Cashing In

I have a new retirement scheme.

As a UGA professor, I’m a part of the state’s optional retirement system, one separate from the teacher retirement plan.  As an untenured assistant professor a million years ago, I couldn’t risk not getting tenure and thus losing money put into the account should I have to leave UGA for another university.

In other words, my TIAA-CREF account relies heavily on the stock market to pay for my golden years.  If you have a sore neck from watching the ups and downs of the market lately, you understand how disconcerting this can be.

At UGA, “optional” means you have only the option of retiring, not actually doing so.

In a few years I’ll waddle to class behind a walker, an IV stuck in my arm to keep myself properly medicated.  Or I can turn to an exciting new supplemental retirement plan that involves me as a member of several class action lawsuits that I wasn’t even aware that I was participating in to begin with.  Until recently, that is.  To explain, in the past couple of weeks I’ve received three emails giving me the good news – I’m part of a class action decisions that will mean money in my pocket.  They are:

  •  Ticketmaster.  Apparently I attended a concert sometime in my past.  In this case, I’m part of “a nationwide class of consumers” (known as the “Class”) who bought tickets through Ticketmaster’s web site (known as “the Website”) between Oct. 21, 1999 and Oct. 19, 2011 (known as the “Class Period”) and followed by a crapload of other legalese that tells me Ticketmaster is accused of deceptive and misleading tactics in hiding costs.  What do I get?  A buck-fifty for some concert I don’t remember, probably in Atlanta.
  •  iTunes.  Yep, like everyone else I’ve bought an iTunes card or two (or a million as safe holiday gifts for nephews and nieces I barely know).  Some of the cards were labeled as “songs for 99¢” when songs often sold for $1.29.  Bad Apple.  Rotten Apple.  In this deal, I get a $3.25 iTunes Store credit to buy, I suppose, songs for more than 99¢. This is a “top settlement” according to one site that tracks this stuff.
  •  My favorite.  You may have seen this online site, and my high school reunion used it, which led to me in a moment of weakness to foolishly create an account there.  Among other things, the lawsuit claims that “Classmates sent e-mail to subscribers of that violated the law and the privacy rights of subscribers.”  In less legal terms, they annoyed the hell out of you with stuff they made up and they wouldn’t go away, no matter how often and how nicely you asked.  This is a big score.  I may rake in as much as $10.

If there’s a lesson here, it’s that you have to spend money to make money.  Spend enough, spread it around, and somewhere somehow, some sleazy company will get caught doing dirty and you’ll reap tens of dollars in future settlements.  That’s enough to help fund a retirement plan based largely on me stealing from a bowl whatever food the cat doesn’t eat.

It’s a plan.


Photo licensed by from © BanksPhotos
Barry Hollander

Barry Hollander

Former hack at daily newspapers, now hack journalism professor at the University of Georgia, number cruncher and longtime Net user, caffeine addict, writer of weird fiction, and a semi-retired god in an online fantasy world where godhood suits him quite well, thank you very much. He also blogs at

  1. Frank Povah

    Good one, Barry – bloody hilarious.

    (I got one of those notices telling me I could join a class action against Netflix. Apparently they’ve overcharged me and did me wrong when they decided to split their rental plan in two sections.)

  2. Barry Hollander

    That’s great, Frank. As a Netflix customer, I can only hope to look forward to yet another few bucks for retirement. Gotta go now and check my emails.

  3. Robert Lamb

    Barry, the point of this one escaped me. Sorry.

  4. Barry Hollander

    Sorry it didn’t work for you, Bob. It was meant as a lighted-hearted diversion to demonstrate the absurdity of our times and these silly small-change class action suits. And it struck me as odd to get three so close together.

    But there’s a writing rule I’ve always believed in … if you have to explain it, the piece failed.

  5. Jingle Davis

    It did not fail for most of us, Barry. Your writing is outstanding. I’m sending it to my college professor kids in North Carolina and Texas who need to consider getting a cat so they, too, can adopt the cat plan. Please write more.

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