Order in the court!

| Considering that I'm a peaceful individual, unwont to engage in frivolous conflict, I have ended up in an astonishing number of class-action lawsuits.

The latest notice to hit my mailbox is for a class of people who bought gas at Costco between specified dates. Costco, which admits to no wrong, is accused of selling hot gas without compensating for the expansion that occurs at higher temperatures. Here's the kicker: if the suit is successful, Costco agrees to install some gadgetry to properly measure the volume of hot gas, which is only right, but the members of the class get nothing — only the representatives of the class do. So here they are spending a pile of money to trace through all the credit-card receipts to find who purchased gas and mail them a notice promising them nothing. Is America a great country, or what?

I also just did the paperwork for a class action derivinig from the Agilent Technologies initial public offering (IPO) in 2000. One had a choice of filling in paper or going to a website and making one's claim online. I chose the online method. And thereby begins "an experience."

After filling in the appropriate numbers, I was asked to confirm my address and contact information. OK, that's easy.

Then came the challenge: entering the date, number of shares, share price, and total cost for each transaction acquiring shares. I put in the information, pain-stakingly computed at the time of the Agilent spin-off, and it was rejected because the price I put in was "out of range" for Agilent prices on the date in question. Obviously, this was designed for someone who actually went to a broker and bought the shares. But I, and thousands upon thousands of others, acquired my Agilent shares in a share dividend distribution, and the value of each Agilent share depended on the original cost of the HP shares from which the Agilent shares were calculated. So I had a whole spreadsheet of calculations.

Eventually it let me proceed, even though it objected to my numbers, warning me that I might not be qualified.

Then came the second challenge: submitting proof of purchase, such as broker confirmation slips, etc. Of course, I have no such thing — all I have is my spreadsheet. So, I uploaded it anyway.

We all know the lawyers handling the case will make out like bandits — the rest of us will be lucky to get our $0.013 per share.

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018



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