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HP The Courts Portables

NVIDIA Gets Away With Bait-and-Switch 336

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-we-blame-moore-for-this dept.
racquetballguy writes "As part of a December 2010 settlement agreement, NVIDIA agreed to provide all owners of laptops containing a defective NVIDIA GPU with a laptop of similar kind and value. In February, NVIDIA announced that a $279 single-core Compaq CQ56 would be provided as a replacement to all laptops — from $2500 dual-core tablet PCs to $2000 17" entertainment notebooks. Ted Frank, from the Center for Class Action Fairness, filed an objection to the court, which was overruled by Judge Ware today. Once again, the consumers of a class action lawsuit lose."
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NVIDIA Gets Away With Bait-and-Switch

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  • I don't care if they really do only spend $279 on replacements... but come ON... Compaq?? I'll keep the defective GPU, TYVM.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2011 @04:31PM (#36004636)
    As a matter of course, you should always opt out of being part of the class. The settlements are rarely very big, and usually the company is better off if it can get everyone into the class and give up their individual rights to litigate.
    • What's the point? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pavon (30274) on Monday May 02, 2011 @04:35PM (#36004684)

      Except 99% of people in the class aren't going to sue anyway, so they gain nothing by opting out. I just got $16 from a Comcast Bitorrent blocking class-action lawsuit, which is more than I would have gotten otherwise.

      • by iamhassi (659463)
        Sounds like the people with the $2500 tablet PCs need to file in small claims, and the ones with the cheap PCs should be happy with their new Compaq.

        What exactly was the problem? "defective NVIDIA GPU" is rather vague, was this a "I can't play games at 1080 HD" defect or "WTF my screen is black!" defect?

        No screen means I want every dime for my laptop since it was completely unusable, but can't play games at 1080 HD... a $300 Compaq might be sufficient.

        One thing's for sure: I've changed my mind ab
        • Re:What's the point? (Score:5, Informative)

          by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Monday May 02, 2011 @06:02PM (#36005546) Journal

          The problem was they used a defective solder on the GPUs, so heat cycling caused the solder joints to fail, which in your description would be the "WTF my screen is black!". I would sue if I were one stuck with the machine, as well as sue the OEM, since many like HP tried to "fix" the problem by simply sending a patch designed to max out the fans (causing them to burn through the battery and wear out quicker) in the hopes that the machine would survive long enough to go out of warranty so they could flip the bird to customers.

          I hope this has taught those that by Nvidia a valuable lesson: don't buy from total douchebags. I was a life long Intel+Nvidia man but after the bribery and compiler rigging came out on the Intel side, and Nvidia trying to dump bad GPUs in the channel and screw customers with bumpgate I'm strictly AMD+ATI for me and my shop. The only way these corps learn is by watching their sales plummet, as we can see in TFA the courts are now bought and paid for.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@NOspAm.world3.net> on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @06:23AM (#36008844) Homepage

            This problem isn't limited to nVidia though, it is just that they have been bigger asshats about it than anyone else. ATI had a few issues, and it is also the cause of the Playstation 3 yellow light of death.

            nVidia's crime was refusing to acknowledge it, then denying it, then trying to wriggle out of fixing it while still shipping defective GPUs. They ended up with millions of GPUs in the field that needed replacing, and the cost of replacement is so high that it is cheaper to ditch the whole motherboard and install a new one. That is what other companies like Microsoft have done when millions of their machines had a design flaw, and some OEMs using nVidia chips did too.

            The killer for nVidia was their deal with HP. Basically they supplied about 95% of the chipsets HP used in its laptops, and so for over three years HP was shipping defective nVidia GPUs. They came to an agreement whereby nVidia would pay HP $100 per laptop, clearly not enough to replace the motherboard for a fixed one (and remember that nVidia were still shipping defective parts at the time) so they just kept swapping mobos until the warranty ran out.

            For anyone in the EU remember that the legal minimum warranty period on electronics is 2 years. For anyone in the UK remember that the Sale of Goods Act requires all goods to "last a reasonable length of time", which for a laptop is generally considered to be 5 or 6 years. If your laptop is less than 5 years and and develops this fault you are entitled to either a partial refund (depending on how much use you have had from it) or a replacement.

    • by arbiter1 (1204146)
      Yea the only ones that win in them are the lawyer, they get paid a percent of the judgement and rest is split up among the people involved.
    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      Class actions have worked well for me:

      - $30 from the CE cartel
      - $75 from Disney's baby einstein dvds
      - $100 from paypal for "losses" that I never incurred

      One thing I've noticed - they disguise the checks to make them look like junkmail. I almost threw the Disney check in the trash, until I realized what it was. It had no markings to indicate what it was for. (Probably done on purpose, to screw the consumer even further.) And screwing paypal was just pure pleasure.

  • by blair1q (305137) on Monday May 02, 2011 @04:34PM (#36004662) Journal

    This one has to go over the judge's head.

    • I would hope something this blatant would end up with the judge not working anymore. THANKS FOR NOTHING PUBLIC SERVANT!

      • by Bobartig (61456)

        Judge Ware is actually a well respected judge of the N.Dist. CA for good reasons. I don't know if he just "doesn't get the tech", but having also resided over San Jose, his docket has been filled with technology-related cases for years. I really dislike this ruling, and I'd like to research into the subject more (can't right now due to finals), but my experience based on direct knowledge is that Ware is a good judge. Nothing will happen to him due to judicial immunity, and his track record being better than

  • by Anonymous Coward

    is getting pretty long.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hairyfeet (841228)

      Buy AMD! After they bought ATI they've been opening up the code so FOSS guys can have decent drivers and support chips as old as they want, and their desktop and laptop chips are nice, and the new APUs have low power usage and full 1080p hardware acceleration for just about every format.

      After the Intel bribery and compiler rigging (which they are still doing last I checked BTW) and Nvidia trying to burn the living hell out of their customers for THEIR mistake in picking a bad solder, I've been strictly AMD+

  • by countertrolling (1585477) * on Monday May 02, 2011 @04:36PM (#36004698) Journal

    that they didn't just get a gift certificate for a cup of McDonalds coffee.

  • ...Compaq still exists.

    • by compro01 (777531)

      Compaq is a brand of HP since 2002.

      • by MrEricSir (398214)

        Sure, but have you ever seen a computer with a Compaq brand on it? I thought it was discontinued...?

      • by MarkTina (611072)

        And is a very clever way of HP getting twice the shelf space of a retail store .. your average Joe Public thinks they are separate companies you see :-)

        • by jmauro (32523)

          They likely paid for every square inch of shelf space they have so having two seperate brands doesn't actually get them anything extra. It's the second item in that they seem like seperate companies, with Compaq at the low end to make the higher end HP machines seem better is more probable.

  • judge ware (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2011 @04:41PM (#36004758)

    which was overruled by Judge Ware today

    Is his first name Hard?

    • JudgeWare is a new type of software. It is designed to weigh alternative legal arguments and determine which has the greater merit. There has always been a demand for an impartial and incorruptible judicial system, and JudgeWare addresses these issues. JudgeWare is currently available for the Microsoft Windows XP environment.
  • Get real, people. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Monday May 02, 2011 @04:43PM (#36004780)

    A class action is NEVER about making he victims whole. It's about punishing the offending corporation. Period.

    If you ever go into a class action thinking you're going to gain something personally, you're an idiot. (Unless, of course, you're a lawyer.)

    Since this is slashdot, I'll try to make a poor analogy. It's like the geeks and nerds at a school hiring a freelance bully to take care of their local bully. The nerds and geeks shouldn't expect to get anything out of it except a cessation of hostile activity from their local bully. The freelancer gets to keep the bulk of whatever he manages to recover from the local bully. He may get the bully to agree to give a candy bar to every kid in the school but the geeks and nerds aren't going to recover multiple years' worth of lunch money. The goal is to prevent future bad behavior on the part of the local bully and nothing more.

    • What you say is true(and, for the great majority of class members, the alternative would be "absolutely nothing, and the offender gets off scot free": The class's lawyers pocketing 1.3 times as much as the class sounds absurdly unjust, unless you fancy trying to find a lawyer willing to go up against a reasonably sized corporation for 1.3 times your individual damages...); but there isn't any reason, in principle, why the class-action mechanism couldn't, simply by growing slightly sharper teeth, provide bot
    • by Cytotoxic (245301)

      Well, that's one theory anyway. Many class actions are actually more complex than that. Often a class action is pursued with the tacit support of the corporation. You see, when a corporation faces an unknown liability (in this case based on lots of individual laptops) they'd like to wrap it all up in a single number. And negotiate that number down as much as possible - with one party on the other side of the negotiation. Getting a class certified is step one of this process.

      Of course, the class action

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      A class action is NEVER about making he victims whole

      Correct, its about making the attorneys ( on BOTH sides.. ) wealthy.

    • by Dahamma (304068)

      A class action is NEVER about making he victims whole. It's about punishing the offending corporation. Period.

      Except in reality it's not even about that, but more akin to class-action lawyers acting like derivatives traders, where they make millions doing nothing useful for the economy while their customers are lucky to see any gain at all.

    • by Bob9113 (14996)

      > A class action is NEVER about making he victims whole.

      Are you saying that the above is the case, or that the above is good?

      I think most of the discussion is in the context of whether it is good, not whether it is the current state of law -- though your observation that it is the general state of law is an important fact in the greater discussion of whether it is what should be.

      If you are saying that the above is good, do you suggest an alternative avenue for making those who were wronged whole, or that

  • by Calibax (151875) * on Monday May 02, 2011 @04:45PM (#36004794)

    So some 3 year old HP laptops that cost a lot back then are being replaced by $350 HP laptops now. Normally a 3 year laptop can't even be sold for $350 (unless it's a top of the line Apple model - and these aren't). And what about the specs? Nowhere in TFA is a comparison of the specs of the system being offered with the specs of the original systems.

    From TFA, a lawyer and an expert witness for the people suing NVIDIA actually agreed the systems were broadly equivalent. Maybe they needed an expert witness who was either more expert or less honest.

    Where exactly is the bait? Or the switch? I guess the article was submitted by one of people who expected his 3 year old system with something that costs the same now, so he could have a substantial improvement in performance.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Viewsonic (584922)

      I think the argument is that back then, those were top of the line laptops. The ones they are getting today are not top of the line laptops.

      The specs may be the same, but the court should recognize that equivalent should be associated with cost as well as specs. The laptop of old was meant to run games of that day, the new laptops should run games of this day. If one laptop cost $2k, the new one should at the very least run $2k today.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Hi! Meet my friend depreciation.
      • That never works in most warranties, let alone product recalls. Back when I did cell phone insurance, the wording only provided that you'd get "a like or comparable model when available." That seems to be the same wording used in the settlement this time. For cell phones, it did not mean that your $300 fancy phone of 3 years ago would get replaced with a $300 smart phone of today. It meant that the insurance would give you a new or used phone of today that had the same features, or similar features, to y
        • but that assumes that you have a working phone for 3 years, then one day it breaks, and a week or so later, a replacement shows up which is the same (if there are still stocks) or the next closest thing which is available. So you pootle on your merry way with your phone's relative capability degrading as it was before it broke.

          It sounds like we're talking about someone who bought a $300 phone, it never really worked, and after 3 years of not being able to use a fancy phone, they're finally offered a replace

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2011 @04:57PM (#36004922)

      The laptops with this nvidia were sold defective, and it was spotted RIGHT AWAY. Nvidia lied about the parts not being defective and refused replacement. That is why there is a lawsuit. The lawsuit has taken 3 years, so of course you can't replace these laptops with the exact model anymore. It's stupid to even offer replacements at this point, so this should be a cash settlement instead.

      Since nvidia parts aren't usually sold in laptops that cheap, the refund should be much higher. This isn't about getting something new three years later. It's about something that should have immediately been covered under warrenty and recalled especially since they knew they were bad. Intel has had bad silicon before, and did the right thing!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It is not the consumers fault that it took 4 years to get action, and the laptops had depreciated by then. Most consumers laptops barely lasted one year. Then, they had to buy new laptops, because HP refused to replace the defective ones. That is why small claims court would have been a better route. You can sue for lost productivity. I am also getting stuck with the $350 replacement Compaq.

      So, I bought a $1200 laptop that lasted 6 months before overheating. I had to back everything up and ship it back. HP

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Also misleading: bait-and-switch. This is not a bait and switch. They did not offer to sell the customers one thing and then deliver something else. This is about a class action lawsuit settlement. There is no "bait" at all here except to file a claim.

    • by hcmtnbiker (925661) on Monday May 02, 2011 @06:31PM (#36005850)

      So some 3 year old HP laptops that cost a lot back then are being replaced by $350 HP laptops now. Normally a 3 year laptop can't even be sold for $350 (unless it's a top of the line Apple model - and these aren't). And what about the specs? Nowhere in TFA is a comparison of the specs of the system being offered with the specs of the original systems...
      Where exactly is the bait? Or the switch? I guess the article was submitted by one of people who expected his 3 year old system with something that costs the same now, so he could have a substantial improvement in performance.

      The TX1000 series which is a large portion of this suit is a convertible tablet PC. I own one of these, it was a dual-core 1.9GHz Proc, 3GB RAM, 12.1"(which is VERY portable), and had a screen that could be turned over and closed to provide a tablet. You cannot touch one of these for anywhere near the price of that Compaq being offered, nor does this "comparable" computer listed offer ANY of the features this notebook did. An iPad would be a closer fit to a Tx1000 series notebook, and even that is less of a machine and twice the cost of the Compaq.

    • A new econobox 15" laptop is not even close to equivalent to a three-year-old high-end ultraportable. Or a three-year-old 17" gaming laptop. Or a three-year-old tablet PC. Or even a three-year-old high-end 15" office laptop. It's dishonest to suggest that because the new econobox has comparable benchmarks, that it's a comparable system. Laptops are more complicated than that. The econobox has nowhere near the same utility.

      If you disagree, try lugging it through an airport instead of the older ultrapor

  • Paid the lawyers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jamesl (106902) on Monday May 02, 2011 @04:51PM (#36004866)

    I'll bet a $279 single-core Compaq CQ56 that the lawyers are well paid.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      The question though is why these lawyers, who were acting on behalf of the consumers in the first place, are not acting on the behalf of the consumers in order to get a reasonable replacement?

      • by idontgno (624372)

        The question though is why these lawyers, who were acting on behalf of the consumers in the first place,

        Faulty premise. The lawyers, purporting to represent the class of plaintiffs, were really representing themselves. I'm sure the negotiation comes down to Nvidia saying "OK, Counselor, how much is this going to take to make this go away?" and the lawyer saying "Well, I need about $13 million. And you can give the plaintiffs whatever you feel like. Don't go nuts. You're supposed to do that paying me first

  • by tlhIngan (30335) <.slashdot. .at. .worf.net.> on Monday May 02, 2011 @04:54PM (#36004884)

    I got lucky. My Dell laptop with a nice dual 8800M-GTX (SLI) card in it failed in a very interesting way. It would boot up in 2D just fine (I could boot in safe mode, and I could get to the login screen), but the instant it started up 3D, it would either lock up or bluescreen (an interesting one - it wasn't the usual BSOD, just one that said something like "Hardware parity error")

    Thankfully I bought the 4 year extended on-site warranty, so I simply called Dell, faked through their OS restore procedure (same effect - though it gets as far as the testing 3D performance step before it locks up - I already tried it).

    I had them also send the tech a replacement graphics card as well, and told them to replace that first. Half an hour later, it was working great.

    Thank god for extended warranties. I usualy get them for laptops because heat failures are common... and probably one of the few times an extended warranty makes sense.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      No need for extended warranties on new items.

      Just use the warranty that already came with the unit (1 year typical), and if the company refuses to accept a return, go ahead and return the item to the company anyway. Then file a credit card dispute saying, "I returned this damaged unit. Here's proof of delivery," and you'll get your refund from Visa or Mastercard.

    • by zippthorne (748122) on Monday May 02, 2011 @07:37PM (#36006342) Journal

      If an extended warranty made sense, they wouldn't sell it to you. You're pretty much always better of taking the money the were going to charge you for the extended warranty and setting it aside in your own "personal warranty" fund. Think of all the devices you've bought over the years. How many of them have really failed during the time period and in a way that the extended warranty would even have been effective...

      • by toddestan (632714)
        It can make sense in some situations. For example, you know how you plan on using your laptop, whereas they can only assume you are going to follow a typical usage pattern. You can use this to your advantage. If you are going to use your laptop for many hours a day, constantly on the go, etc. it's more likely that your laptop will need servicing than the average laptop, so in your case it may make sense to buy a policy that's designed to cover a laptop that will only see "typical" use. Of course, this o
      • by hedwards (940851)

        An extended warranty on laptops is usually a good idea. Most other things the extended warranty is a waste of money, but for laptops it's a good deal. I wouldn't go with one longer than about 3 years though, I've found that to be sufficient to make it worthwhile. Just make sure to know the terms, some will replace it with an equivalent model, but a good one will replace it with one that is of similar price if they can't find the same one.

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Monday May 02, 2011 @04:54PM (#36004894) Homepage

    This is why my standard response when I receive notice of a class-action settlement is to return the paperwork with the "I decline to participate in the class" boxes checked. If you don't respond, you're considered part of the class and are bound by the terms of the settlement. By declining I preserve my right to make my own claim against the company.

    • So will you try to take them to small claims court to get more than the cheap laptop? Or did you just give up the ~$200 you could have made selling this thing on eBay?

      • by Todd Knarr (15451)

        Well, if I had one of these laptops I'd simply contact whoever I bought it from about returning it as defective. If they balked, next step is to call American Express (you think I'd pay for something like this with anything else?) about a merchant refusing to accept a return of defective merchandise. Supporting documentation from the court filings, yadda yadda, and barring something unusual the money will be credited back to my card, the merchant's account gets debited and the merchant gets to argue with Am

    • Is this a matter of principle, or have you achieved better-than-class results independently?
    • by Cytotoxic (245301)

      Strangely, this also offers you a bit of an opportunity for leverage. A certain percentage must opt in for the class to be certified. If you randomly happen to be a hold-out in a case where a few more opt-ins would make a difference, you might get offered all kinds of goodies to join the class.

    • by zero0ne (1309517)

      My question is always, how can that be legal?

      How is it that Class action lawsuits are OPT-OUT instead of OPT-IN?

      What happens if I moved and they sent it to an old address? Could I still make my own claim?

      If they aren't sending the letter using registered mail, how am I able to prove I never received it? How can THEY prove that I actually received the letter if they have no confirmation it was even delivered?

    • Unfortunately, many of us liked the terms of the settlement that said "new laptop of similar kind and value," and choose to not opt out. The CQ56 wasn't selected until mid-February - 2 months after the opt-out deadline. Now we lost our right to file a claim against either NVIDIA or HP. Lesson learned: vagueness in settlement agreements is NOT accidental.

  • So I take it people are getting downgraded from nvidia graphics to intel graphics?
    Looks like all the gamers can throw away all their games other than solitare and farmville.

    Sorry, but let's face it, any kind of integrated nvidia gpus is massively superior to any of the intel gpus, or whatever is the appropriate term for those integrated graphics chips.
  • The deadline to file was March 14th, and I own one of these defective HP's. In fact it died three months ago.

  • by BearRanger (945122) on Monday May 02, 2011 @05:16PM (#36005066)

    My Macbook Pro had one of the offending NVIDIA chips. When it failed out of warranty Apple simply replaced it. They didn't send me to NVIDIA for a solution. I assume they hammered NVIDIA to get their money back for the replacement part. The OEM computer manufacturers are always going to have more leverage with their suppliers than you or I will. Responsible vendors should shield the end user from this sort of pettiness and finger pointing. After all, you didn't buy your laptop from NVIDIA...

  • Once again, the consumers of a class action lawsuit lose, and the lawyers win.

    There, FTFY. You KNOW they got their golden parachutes even while the "business" tanked. It's not a coincidence that lawyers, CEOs, and politicians are all indistinguishable: they're all paid to screw with (over) people.

  • ... you could be the not-so-proud owner of one of the other affected brands (e.g. Toshiba) NOT included in the suit, and get nothing at all except the finger and a Simpsons-like "Ha-ha!".

  • If the courts continue to act not in the interest of the people, we will surely reach the boiling point of revolution sooner. And myself and Jefferson both say hurrah!

  • by kpainter (901021) on Monday May 02, 2011 @06:53PM (#36006028)
    I sent in my claim and was shocked at what they claimed was "similar value". I am not going to even bother sending mine in. I am sure that will make NVidia happy. Except that I will never buy another product with the NVidia stink attached to it. I am not likely to buy anything HP either.

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