A Worthwhile Strategy?


This article from CNN's tech page discusses consumers filing a class action lawsuit over defects in the new iPod:


On this and other calculator newsgroups, there have been many complaints regarding HP calcs on a variety of issues, from nonfunctioning hardware to buggy software to questionable design.

The question I have is this: if enough people ( HP calc users ) were so disgusted with the current state of affairs, would it be a worthwhile strategy to consider some sort of class action lawsuit? The idea would not be to try 'break' HP or collect a zillion bucks, but rather to simply get their attention that they need to produce machines that loyal users want and that these machines function as they should.

I'm not a legal type of any kind. Indeed, I personally hate lawyers, especially the new breed of sleazy, ambulance-chasing types who continually broadcast ads starting with "Have you been injured in an accident?" And that's why I've posted this question, those of you who may have legal experience can possibly give some good insight here.

Edited: 24 Oct 2005, 9:43 p.m.


I would expect that such a suit would result in the dissolution of the calculator business unit. Many large businesses are very risk adverse when it comes to potential litigation. The only conclusion that HP would arrive at after being threatened by a class action suit surrounding their calculators is that the potential liability is not worth the minuscule income they derive from calculators.

(BTW, there are several attorneys which frequent this forum.)


I doubt a single lawsuit, even a class action, would cause HP to abandon the calculator market. But IANACE (I Am Not A Corporate Executive 8) so what do I know?

But I do think that Apple iPods and HP calculators are different in several respects. iPods are hot sellers that have lifted Apple from the brink of bankruptcy to a solidly profitible company. (Macintoshes? They make computers? 8) Calculators are a niche market for HP. A related point: Apple is a smaller company that has a large share of their success tied up in iPods. HP's got to care about calculators .. a little, at least. Apple's installed base and annual sales in units and dollars probably surpasses similar metrics for HPs's calculators.

Given all that, which company do you suppose will react to a consumer class action lawsuit by actually fixing the problems?

Edited: 25 Oct 2005, 12:22 a.m.


Hi all.

Yeah that ipod thing really surprised me. Someone was asleep at the wheel and then tried to bluff it through. I feel that people would want to sue Apple Corps.... donkey ;-)

HP, though... Come on. Poor HP. Great company. Very old and solid.
Very hard to continuously adapt in a world with markets that change so fast. In a new field as the product life cycle runs, profit margins start big and end up ephemeral.


Also, firmware bugs in computing equipment are a real pain but it's really hard to make a computing item totally bug free as we all know (you guys perhaps better than me, I am no programmer). Same with hardware bugs. That was why micros were invented, you could modify the design in firmware rather than at the logic gate level.

I notice a lot of you guys are quite cranky at this or that model
but there is also some genuine personal preference stuff in there too, which of course is totally cool. We are all "selfish human beings" who want it just our own way, me included.

I can't help wonder whether the bugs are as bad as you all say. I guess they must be. I am confused about what modern machine I would buy (I'd like a graphing calc to muck around with but don't need one).

I have made my peace that the golden era of Western Civilization is well and truly gone and from now on I'll be happy to dodge the H5N1, fallout from petrol/oil prices going nuts and the odd cyclone...

I for one have much more serious, pressing issues to worry about rather than calculators.

But I sure enjoy seeing people helping each other chewing the fat and poling their resources. What an interesting forum. Thanks guys.



Hi Don,

you are right. More important things to do than to put lawsuits on companies that make mediocre and / or faulty products. Pay with peanuts, work with monkeys. Today's silicon technology places zillions of transistors to the fingertips of everyone, for a bargain price, but alas, most of those "everyone" people are VHDL wielding monkeys, and not true adepts of that obscure art of real chip design.

H5N1 is of no concern as it only kills people in close contact with those birds. The dreaded killer disease which might become the next plague (after politicians and lawyers - and will get them, too) may occur by fusing H5N1 with human flu viruses.

Anyone who is no lawyer nor politician may contact me for my ten cents on which medication might help. Tamiflu most likely won't.



I too would have to say that this would simply knock HP out of the calculator business. Why would HP keep making calculators when they make (relatively) little money on them, and get sued.

The ipod one (might) work because everyone knows about ipods, and everyone expects certain things of them.

I wouldn't bite the hand that feeds me, even if it is feeding me bad food. Especially if it is the only hand I can eat from.


The idea would not be to try 'break' HP or collect a zillion bucks, but rather to simply get their attention that they need to produce machines that loyal users want and that these machines function as they should.

The problem with this is, if the lawsuit won't collect a zillion bucks, then no law firm is going to take it on contigency. That means the class would have to bear the cost of the litigation. And as I think many HP calculator fans would (rightly) avoid suing HP, that would leave a small pool of folks on the hook for .1*Zillion bucks in litigation costs.

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