Computer Chip Manufacturers to Pay $310 Million to Benefit Consumers Over Price Fixing Allegations
Eligible Consumers Who Purchased Electronic Devices with DRAM Memory Encouraged to Submit Claims for Multistate Settlement
BOSTON – Consumers in Massachusetts who purchased computers, printers, video game consoles, or other electronic devices with Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) can file claims following preliminary approval of multistate settlements worth $310 million with major manufacturers for conspiring to fix their prices, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
“These manufacturers chose to fix prices rather than compete fairly for business in the marketplace and will be held accountable," AG Coakley said. “We encourage Massachusetts consumers and businesses who were overcharged in this scheme to submit claims for reimbursement.”
After completing an investigation in 2006, the AG’s Office and 32 other states filed antitrust lawsuits in federal court. According to the complaint, industry leaders conspired to fix prices and lower the production of DRAM to artificially raise prices on products containing the memory chips between 1998 and 2002. DRAM is a common form of memory chip found in computers and other high technology devices.
The settlements reached in conjunction with class action lawsuits pay individuals and businesses that purchased DRAM or devices containing DRAM in the United States between 1998 and 2002 from retailers like Best Buy or Staples.
DRAM manufacturers are also required to implement antitrust compliance and training programs and are prohibited from certain conduct that would violate the antitrust laws. The settlements, many of which were reached with the leading manufacturers in 2010, followed by proceedings before a court-appointed Special Master to determine fund allocation, are still subject to final court approval, along with the resolution of any appeals.
To receive money from the settlement, eligible consumers need to submit a claim form by Aug. 1. The amount of money received depends on the type and quantity of electronic devices purchased, and the total number of claims made. Individuals who purchased DRAM or products containing DRAM are expected to get a $10 payment at minimum and may receive an amount equal to the overpayment due to the alleged price fixing.
Any consumer who purchased one or more of the following between 1998 and 2002 is eligible to make a claim:
- Desktop computers
- Laptop computers
- Computer servers
- Computer graphics cards
- Video game consoles
- MP3 players
- DVD players
- Digital video recorders
If you purchased other technology devices also containing DRAM memory, you also may be eligible to make a claim.
The AG’s Office will also recover an additional $665,000 for Massachusetts governmental agencies that purchased DRAM. Government entities should anticipate receiving funds from a separate portion of these settlements with details to be announced after final approval of the settlements.
Other states in the settlement include Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
For more information about the settlements, or to file a claim, visit www.DRAMclaims.com or call (800) 589-1425.
This case was handled by Mary B. Freeley of Attorney General Coakley’s Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau.