Judge Rules That $19 Coupon Isn't Fair Compensation In Sharper Image Air Purifier Case

A judge rejected a settlement that would have granted a $19 Sharper Image coupon to consumers who purchased the Ionic Breeze… and $1.8 million in fees to the lawyers.

A Sharper Image Ionic Breeze costs significantly more than $19.

From Bloomberg:

U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga in Miami said today that the settlement, which would have provided consumers with coupons worth $19 to buy Sharper Image products, wasn’t a “fair, adequate and reasonable” resolution of the consumers’ class-action case over the purifiers.

“The proposed settlement, in which class counsel receive close to $2 million in fees and class members are given a $19 coupon, is below the range of recovery in which a settlement of this case may be considered fair,” Altonaga said an order.

The class action lawsuit claimed that the Ionic Breeze didn’t remove dust particles from the air and, well, was just crappy. Sharper Image agreed to settle, but says it can’t afford to pay more than $19 in coupons per consumer. Attorneys general from 35 states object to the proposed settlement, criticizing the proposed coupons as well as the $1.8 million in legal fees.

If you bought one of these machines, would you really want to spend $19 more dollars at The Sharper Image? What can you get for $19? Nose-hair clippers?

Sharper Image’s Settlement Over Purifiers Rejected (Update4) [Bloomberg]

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. vex says:

    Another reason why class action lawsuits are silly. Sure the company pays, but the victims get nothing.

  2. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Yet, the lame boA settlement was not rejected. Someone sue them again.

  3. Anonymous says:

    These settlements are almost always a joke. The lawyers line their pockets while the victims get a token gesture of reparations, such as a measly coupon that can only be used at the same store that ripped you off in the first place.

  4. nffcnnr says:

    What can you get for $19? Nose-hair clippers? i wouldn’t buy those either. Nose hairs prolly are a far better “air purifing system” than that Ionic Breeze gadget. What a scam.

  5. ianmac47 says:

    Maybe the solution is to simply pay the legal fees in Sharper Image credits. No doubt a law firm could figure out a way to spend $2M in coupons.

  6. faust1200 says:

    Almost any man over 30 would not mock the value of nosehair clippers. I mean if you are plucking or shoving scissors up your nose you are a sorry mofo.

  7. kimsama says:

    @nffcnnr: Brilliant ^_^

    As for class actions, I heart them. I got $500 cash when my laptop was involved in a class action (that was the minimum you could get — if it had major malfunctions, you could get $1500, the entire cost of the laptop). So they do sometimes work.

  8. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    They can’t afford more than 19 dollars? Oh, that’s a good one. Can I use that excuse next time I get sued?

  9. GenXCub says:

    I have a Sharper Image ionic breeze. It was bought about 4 years ago. I live in Las Vegas, and the dust is everywhere. It definitely gets a lot of it out of my air, but that may not be the case in other cities where dust isn’t an issue.

    I also bought the Fry’s Electronics $99 version of the ionic breeze and, well, it’s just as good if not better. I ended up buying 4 of them and giving them as holiday gifts last year. So, if I’m guilty of anything, it’s buying overpriced crap, but at least it works (for me).

  10. Geekybiker says:

    Class action settlements are generally sickening. I’ve gotten a few letters over the years where I’ve been offered a pittance while the lawyers get rich. Oh course the worse part is without those obscene lawyer fees most of these issues would never get legislated.

  11. Bobg says:

    Reminds me of the laptop settlement that would give me a coupon for $50 off of another terrible laptop. The lawyers made millions.

  12. Buran says:

    Can’t afford to pay customer lawsuits?

    Don’t make shoddy products that don’t work as advertised.

  13. WraithSama says:

    @ianmac47:

    I absolutely agree! If they’re going to make a joke of a coupon the compensation for the customers involved in the settlement, they can make the lawyer’s fees payable in coupons as well.

    “Sharper Image agreed to settle, but says it can’t afford to pay more than $19 in coupons per consumer.”

    That statement is a blatant, obvious lie. Their flagship products tend to cost in the hundreds of dollars. There is no way in hell you can possibly convince me their profit margin on that junk is so small that a discount larger than $19 would ruin them. I can’t even fathom how they managed to rationalize that one.

    Bear in mind, they’re not even offering to pay $19 to each consumer, they’re offering $19 off the purchase of more high-cost merchandise. As a form of restitution! This is a win-win for them. If a customer uses the discount, they profit. If a customer doesn’t use the discount, they’re still not out any money. Settlements like this shouldn’t even be legal.

  14. overbysara says:

    I remember reading the consumer reports review of the iconic breeze. they basically said it “filters” the air as much as an object like a table “filters” the air – just by having dust land on it. lol

  15. WraithSama says:

    And yes, I understand the article states that the judge ruled it as unfair compensation. Good for him! Unfortunately, companies get away with this kind of settlement all the time. It’s sickening.

  16. TVarmy says:

    @vex: Back during the Sony/BMG lawsuits over the rootkits, I bought a “My Morning Jacket” CD even though I knew it would be infected with the rootkit. I didn’t care as I was using Linux at the time, and I also was interested because it looked like the class action lawsuit would pay off. It worked out well for me, as I got a whole new CD for free off of iTunes. I feel like I gamed the system a bit, but I’m happy with what they gave me. Of course, I’m truly sorry for anyone whose computer was ruined by the rootkit.

  17. tcabeen says:

    Tweezerman started selling nosehair clippers. They’re manual, so the whole annoying battery issue is removed. And they’re <$19. I have some, but haven’t tried them yet.

    How’s that for on-topic + fascinating. ;)

  18. veronykah says:

    I was part of the class action suit against apple for the 1st gen of ipods. I ended up getting $50. Just spent it on a refurbished airport and couldn’t be happier. $50 to spend at the apple store is not so bad…not to mention the iPod in question was replaced 3 times [for free] by apple and ended up lasting about 3 years with HEAVY use.

  19. SOhp101 says:

    Wow, I should become a lawyer!

  20. infinitysnake says:

    @overbysara: My MIL insists on having a miniature version of the silly thing in her fridge.

  21. dwarf74 says:

    Heh. I was given one of these as a gift, and I didn’t have the heart to refuse it. It doesn’t seem to do a thing; it collects some dust – a bit more than the aforementioned table top – but otherwise seems to do absolutely nothing. I was not impressed.

    I wish I would have known there was a class-action lawsuit… I would have mentioned it to the folks who bought it for me.

  22. Major-General says:

    @vex: I just got my email from the Asurion class settlement. 127 minutes of long distance calling worth ~$12.70. For a cell phone insurance suit. I’d rather have $10 in cash. Or even $5.

  23. Mary says:

    Sharper Image actually sued Consumer Reports for saying that the Ionic Breeze was a bad product.

    “A federal judge ruled the suit not only had no merit, but was actually an illegal attempt to squelch public discussion. SI was ordered to pay CU $400,000 to cover its legal defense costs.”
    -[www.stellaawards.com]

    So maybe they really can’t afford to pay more out ; )

  24. Smackdown says:

    Sharper Image is such a ridiculous, stupid junk purveyor that I’m almost tempted to just say “If you were dumb enough to shop at that snake-oil-reimagined-as-easily-broken-unitasking crap store, then you deserve what you get” except eff that. I want Sharper Image to go bankrupt and stop ripping people off.

  25. thekizerman says:

    @WraithSama:

    “That statement is a blatant, obvious lie. Their flagship products tend to cost in the hundreds of dollars. There is no way in hell you can possibly convince me their profit margin on that junk is so small that a discount larger than $19 would ruin them.”

    While it may seem that Sharper Image should have billions of dollars saved up from selling bunk products at astronomical rates, (cost for an Ionic Breeze GP is roughly $67, compared to the $349 retail) they are not necessarily on top of the world right now. I used to work there, and during my stay the board of directors had the CEO (creepy Richard Thalheimer) booted out b/c he was losing millions of dollars on junk products (anyone remember the “Goodies” section?) At the time that I quit, they had brought some big shot “Turn-around” guy that was supposedly going to bring profits back, but haven’t heard much else.

    Long story short, they’re probably telling the truth.

    Shop at Brookstone, if you must buy overpriced gadgets.

  26. alhypo says:

    I’ve never personally met anyone stupid enough to buy one of those, but I’d sure like to.

  27. mandarin says:

    The only thing I got from Sharper image is an umbrella that has a button for closing… Thats it (it was raining that day hehe)

  28. RoyInHell says:

    I’ve had an ionic breeze for years, and I’ve got to say that I love it – I have a small apartment and I’m a smoker, and it gets rid of any smoky smell quickly. If it doesn’t remove dust and crap from the air, then what’s all that gunk on the blades when I clean it?

    I used to have a HEPA filter purifier, but it was horribly expensive to replace the filters, it was loud, it used a lot of power, and didn’t work at all.

    Btw, I bought by ionic breeze at Bed Bath & Beyond on sale.

  29. shades_of_blue says:

    I’ve got one, is does work. However, since it only generates a slight breeze, it’s very inefficient. I had an air purifier and that monster drove me nuts, for dead silence the Ionic Breeze was great. At least for the first couple months, now it hums. Not sure it is poor built quality or the fact that I’ve knocked it over at least a dozen times. Got mine at BB&B too, for considerably less than Sharper Image.

  30. Anitra says:

    It works, but isn’t very efficient, because it hardly moves the air… which is why it’s quiet. We got one not long after we got cats, so that our allergic friends would still be able to visit us. Our friend with the worst allergy found that if he sat next to the thing, he had no allergy problems at all… if he wasn’t as close to it, he still had allergy problems, but not as bad as he used to in our house – but that might also be the result of switching from wall-to-wall carpeting to a hard floor.

  31. mrwilson says:

    Since the Class Action Fairness Act was enacted in February 2005, the amount of attorney fees for plaintiffs’ class action lawyers (in federal cases) can only be tied to the amount of coupons actually redeemed, not to their face value. The practical effect of this is that few class actions will settle for near-worthless coupons anymore – they will settle for cash or meaningful coupons that are likely to actually be redeemed. For cases filed prior to 2/05, some of those may still have settlements like this, but the point is, this sort of thing will continue to be less and less of a problem going forward.

  32. JayDeEm says:

    My wife bought one of the ‘bathroom’ Ionic Breeze filters to put in the closet next to the cat box. It made a great night-light but was otherwise useless. We are included in the class even though the unit was a refurb from their Ebay store. I don’t think we actually paid more than $20 for it, though I could use a nice nose hair trimmer :)

  33. Sasquatch says:

    I don’t even think you can get an empty shopping bag at TSI for $19. I’ve always said stores like that are for people who have more money than common sense.