Class actions

I got a post card in the mail today about yet another class action lawsuit.  This time it’s Sirius XM.  Apparently some people (probably former XM customers) were upset that Sirius bought XM, then raised their prices.  Well, yeah.  It’s a time honored tradition.  You buy up your competition, become king of the hill, and charge what you want.  Or sometimes you buy up your competition because they were close to going under anyway, and raise your prices so you don’t follow them down the hole.  So of course they got sued for anti-trust violations, and agreed to a settlement.

Naturally the customers who were affected got…  nothing, squat, dick.  Not that I care; it didn’t affect me in the slightest.  The settlement terms basically say that groups of customers can renew their subscriptions at the current rate, people who dropped their subscription can renew without a reactivation fee, and no one gets any cash.  Except, of course, the lawyers who will without a shadow of doubt get their hefty portion of the estimated $180 million in settlement valuation.  And of course Sirius XM might possibly get a bunch of subscribers back.  It’s like the Blockbuster class action settlements…  millions of people got coupons for a buck or two, to be used the next time they rented from Blockbuster.  I bet they (Blockbuster) really felt the sting from that!

What an incredible victory for the consumer.  Or maybe everyone but the consumer.  Class action lawsuits seem to be a are pretty good business to be in if you’re a lawyer, and if you’re a cagey defendant you can twist it around to your advantage.  In the end the only people who get screwed are the customers, who have to bear the cost of the whole sideshow.