On January 12, 2010, Skype concluded a class action lawsuit in which they settled for $1.85 million. The lawsuit took place in the United States and only applies to U.S. Skype customers who lost Skype credits. Skype was sued for “stealing” your paid-for SkypeOut credits if they weren’t used within six months from purchase, regardless of the amount. There was a disclaimer, in the tiny fine print somewhere, stating that SkypeOut credits would expire in six months. Remember what we always say here at groovyPost about the fine print. :)
This issue is very similar to when you have in-store credit or a gift card somewhere. The credit is as good as cash with that company – since it is offered as a currency alternative. You didn’t sign up to donate money. You purchased credit. In a sense, it’s like the company owes you X amount, and they can’t just forget about their debt of service or dollars after six months or a year. Skype isn’t alone in this practice; many retailers have attempted the same scam with expiring gift card policies, but several States have cracked down on it and passed laws making such policies illegal. The accusing party used these laws to pressure Skype into a settlement.
Read the full case details from this PDF [Google Docs]
Due to the lawsuit, Skype has changed their policy, and SkypeOut credit will no longer expire after 180 days. Instead, it will just become inactive. But what is the point of that? If you don’t lose it why make it inactive? Doesn’t that just cost Skype more resources? A puzzling move indeed, until you read the fine print of the new policy.
Once your Skype credit goes inactive, you can never get a refund for it! How sneaky! Although if you haven’t used Skype to make a call, or requested a refund for 180 days then you probably won’t be bothered too much by that.
How do I get my SkypeOut Credit refund?
Skype was able to settle the suit with the plaintiffs outside of court. As a result of the settlement, Skype is to pay up to $4 to any Skype customer who had his credits expired IF purchased before December 31, 2009. Since the court case was won using U.S. State laws and such, this only applies to U.S. customers.
If you were one of those people who lost their Skype credits and you want your $4, you can make a claim at:
Note: All claims must be made before March 1, 2010, or they will not be considered valid.