Do you qualify for a memory-chip case settlement payment?

By Anthony GiorgianniConsumer Reports

If you purchased a computer, printer, or other electronics containing memory chips between Jan 1, 1998, and Dec. 31, 2002, you could be eligible for a payment of at least $10.

Claims now are being accepted from those seeking payment from a $310 million fund created to reimburse individuals and businesses that bought devices containing Dynamic Random Access Memory computer chips. Claim forms must be submitted by Aug. 1.

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The fund is part of a settlement to resolve lawsuits brought by state attorneys general in California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Washington, and 28 other states, accusing DRAM chip manufacturers of conspiring to fix chip prices during the five-year period.

“These companies betrayed the trust of consumers by artificially inflating prices to drive up profits,” Attorney General Kamala Harris of California said in a statement.

In agreeing to settle the lawsuits, the companies denied wrongdoing. The settlement has received preliminary approval from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

To take part, you must have purchased the electronics from a retailer, such as Best Buy or Staples, in the U.S. instead of directly from the chip manufacturers.

The amount you'll receive depends on the items purchased and the number of claims, although the minimum payment is expected to be $10. Larger purchasers could receive as much as $1,000. You don't need receipts or other documentation to file a claim, although such items may be requested later. Among the products covered by the settlement are computers, printers, DVD and MP3 players, TiVo/DVRs, graphics cards, personal digital assistants, video-game consoles, and memory modules.

—Anthony Giorgianni

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