Parent of Micro Center Settles Class-Action Suit


The parent of Micro Center agreed to pay up to $6.6 million to about 120,000 Southern California consumers to settle a class-action lawsuit that charged the Ohio-based electronics retailer with illegally asking for--and recording--personal information from customers who made credit-card purchases at its Tustin store.

The bulk of the payments, ranging from $10 to $50 per customer, would consist of discounts on merchandise, service and repair contracts and training classes at the Tustin store. In addition, Micro Electronics Inc. would donate 150 computers valued at $112,500 to the Tustin Unified School District.

The settlement, scheduled for final approval in Orange County Superior Court on Jan. 12, would end a 1996 suit brought by UCI student Kellene Perez. She claimed that between Nov. 23, 1995, and July 1, 1997, Micro Center employees recorded personal information such as addresses and phone numbers on credit-card receipts, a violation of state law.

“This isn’t about a company that had gone out and defrauded people and profited from it,” said Martin W. Anderson, a Santa Ana attorney who represented Perez. “Rather, they were violating the law and would not stop when asked.”

As part of the settlement, Micro Center agreed to stop asking customers for personal information. The company has one other California store, in Santa Clara, and 12 stores in seven other states.


Micro Center attorney Robert Hubbell said the company doesn’t believe it broke any laws and that it is settling the suit to avoid a costly trial.

The company used the customer lists for internal purposes only, and did not resell them to others, Hubbell said.

If the settlement is approved as expected, Micro Center will mail discount coupons to affected customers in late January, Anderson said. The coupons expire Aug. 31, 1998.