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(UPDATE: CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE CASH SETTLEMENT AND THE COUPONS. As of September 17th, several class members are beginning to report that they have received their share of the settlement in the mail. The settlement administrator’s request for a larger fee, referenced in the May 2019 story below, was ultimately granted in June. KCC was awarded an additional $618,308, $468,308 of which was paid from the cash settlement fund. A smaller cash settlement fund, then, meant there was less cash available to distribute to class members. About 1.29 million people chose to receive a cash settlement, which as of May was set in the amount of $2.74. But deducting $468,308 from the settlement fund reduced everyone’s share by 36 cents, so the checks going out are now in the amount of $2.38. CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE CASH SETTLEMENT AND THE COUPONS!)

It’s been a while since we’ve gotten an update on the infamous StarKist tuna settlement. Unfortunately, it will still be a while before you see any cash or coupons. After patiently waiting nearly four years for them, it looks like you’ll have to wait another several months – if not longer.

Everything appeared to be good to go last October, when a federal appeals court dismissed several appeals and upheld the settlement agreement, finally clearing the way for payments or coupons to be sent out to consumers who filed a claim. But several parties in the case are still quibbling over some of the details, which could affect when – and how much – you’ll get paid.

The case dates back to 2013, when California consumer Patrick Hendricks sued StarKist, accusing it of underfilling 5-ounce cans of tuna. StarKist eventually agreed to settle the case, inviting any shopper who had purchased any of the affected varieties of its products to file a claim “for either a cash payment of $25, or $50 in product vouchers redeemable for StarKist tuna products”.

That was in 2015.

Thanks to the promise of a big payout (“Free money!” many blogs and local news stories proclaimed), the claim form went viral. And that caused problems that are still being worked out today.

StarKist set aside enough money to cover up to 200,000 claims. Instead, more than two and a half million people submitted claims for cash or coupons. So it took a while for the overwhelmed parties to the settlement to work out the details. And they’re still working on them.

Settlement administrator KCC Class Action Services is now looking for a larger piece of the pie – for itself. In a motion filed with the court last week, KCC is requesting an August hearing on its request for a larger administrative fee – with some of that money coming out of the settlement fund and, therefore, out of your pocket.

Either way, the fact that the hearing may not be held until this fall means it will be that much longer before you get anything at all from StarKist.

“The viral nature of this settlement caused the scope of work to expand far beyond the initial projections,” KCC told the court. “This will result in increased costs and expenses” associated with sending out many more checks and coupons than KCC had budgeted for.

So KCC is asking the court for an additional payment of $618,308, which will come out of the settlement fund – and, therefore, reduce the amount of money available for consumers.

But those amounts won’t be very much anyway.

According to details of the settlement worked out earlier this year, claimants who chose a cash payment are eligible to receive $2.74 – far less than the “cash payment of $25” they thought they’d get. Those who chose the coupons will receive $5.03 worth of coupons – far less than the “$50 in product vouchers” they had hoped for.

That’s because of the fine print on the claim form that most people overlooked. “These claim amounts may be subject to pro rata dilution if the total amount of claims exceeds the available settlement funds,” the form read.

“This case received far more publicity than usual, and… several of those reports mistakenly told consumers that by filing a claim each consumer who filed a claim could expect to receive between $25 and $50,” KCC told the court.

That’s why two and a half million people signed on, and why two and a half million people are likely to be disappointed in what they get – whenever they actually get it.

Making matters even more confusing is how StarKist plans to distribute the $5.03 in coupons for claimants who opted not to receive the cash. Rather than providing several coupons for a free can of tuna, with a maximum value of 86 cents apiece, the company has decided to reduce printing costs by providing a single coupon worth exactly $5.03.

“Assuming an average retail price of $0.86 per can of tuna and a voucher value of $5.03, the class member would receive five cans of tuna at no cost, plus the option to apply the remaining $0.73 towards the purchase of a sixth can of StarKist tuna. The class member would not be eligible to take the $0.73 in cash,” StarKist explained in a court filing back in February. In addition, “StarKist will agree to make the vouchers redeemable for any StarKist product, canned or pouched, not simply the varieties that were the subject of the litigation”.

According to that plan, it appears that StarKist’s lawyers don’t completely understand quite how coupons work.

There’s nothing StarKist can do to prevent stores that give overage from giving cash back to consumers who use a $5.03 coupon on four cans of tuna. In fact, consumers could conceivably buy one can of 86-cent tuna and get $4.14 cash back.

There’s also currently no way to code a coupon to deduct exactly $5.03 off the purchase of one or more StarKist products. The only way to make such a coupon work as StarKist describes it, is to either require cashier intervention to apply the coupon manually, or make it an “all-scan” that will work on anything in the store and deduct $5.03 from your total no matter what products you buy.

And just imagine the potential for fraud and counterfeiting, when there are about a million coupons out there, with a long expiration date, offering more than $5 in free stuff, or even cash if your store allows it.

But it seems now that the date when those coupons – or the checks for two bucks and change – will end up in anyone’s hands is still pretty far off. So if you submitted a claim, don’t wait anxiously by the mailbox. Four years later, it seems this settlement is still far from being settled.

48 Comments

  1. Kamal A Emami says:

    This whole StarKist issue has been an scam. I do not purchase their products anymore, can not trust them.

  2. Two days ago I received my check for $2.38 cents,that I cashed and with the money purchased a lottery ticket that was a hundred dollar winner.Thank You starkiss.????????????????

  3. Michelle Mobley says:

    If you move while you are waiting for these scoundrels to send you your coupon, you are hosed. Sorry Charlie, but going forward, it’s ‘Chicken of the Sea’ for me.

    • Not in my experience. Mine was forwarded to an address I had just moved to about a year before the coupons were mailed. Got my 3 free cans at Target, plus $2.06 off the rest of my purchase.

  4. Catherine A Hutchison says:

    Just tried my $5.03 coupon at kroger and the declined it cashier says these coupons are on the fraud list so idk now.

  5. Walmart refused my $5,03 coupon, manager said, it was because, there’s no expiration date on it . Now what ?

    • From this message board string, looks like Walmart is problematic. Try another grocery? Meijer worked for me, though a supervisor had to override the transaction. Target worked for another writer. Good luck!

    • Ronald Lauzon says:

      I took my $5.03 to Safeway. They hadn’t seen one of these vouchers yet, but it went through just fine. Let’s see…figuring 4+ years of waiting, doing a little quick math, I got slightly less than one 5 oz. can of “chunk” tuna per year.

  6. David Chesler says:

    $2.38 appeared in my Paypal account on September 19. I’d forgotten about filing this.

  7. Just used mine at our Michigan Meijer store, three pouches of Starkist in water, $5.03 coupon applied, net cost to me $.05. The transaction required a supervisor to log in to accept coupon, they normally have a $5 coupon unsupervised limit.
    No worries. Took a while though, right?

  8. Don’t use them at Walmart. Use them at Target. You can purchase 3 cans/pouches for 99 cents each, and still get the excess $2.06 off your remaining purchase. I did it yesterday!

  9. I tried to use my coupon at Walmart; it was declined. The next day I tried to use the coupon at FoodLion for 4 cans & the amount deducted was $3.00, not $5.03. I questioned this & the manager unsuccessfully tried to over-ride the amount, so at my request FoodLion returned my coupon & deducted the purchase prices for the 4 cans.
    This sounds like a scam between the settlement company & StarKist!

    I haven’t bought StarKist in quite a while & will never do so in the future!

    • Carol Hebert says:

      I never filed any claim with Starkist yet I received a check for the $2.38 settlement fee . I sent it through my shredder. I would rather pay for a can of Bumble Bee than be given a free can of Starkist. Honestly Bumble Bee is far better than Starkist (in my opinion).

  10. This is so dumb. All anybody EVER does is lie. Starkist you have lost my business. You know where you can put your coupon.

  11. We’ve been waiting for four or five years for our settlement voucher. From time to time we joked about how when that tuna money comes in, we’ll be eating like kings. We just bought a new house and the one thing I was (slightly) bummed about was the fact that we’d never get to see when that voucher came.

    I was stoked when, on our last night owning the house, the voucher showed up in the mail!

  12. I just received the coupon I applied for since we buy a lot of StarKist tuna. I received my voucher of $5.03 for 3 StarKist products. I will use it but feel it is a ripoff to force people to buy certain items. We shop at Sam’s Club and Walmarts. I hope they will honor it.

  13. sorry charlie cannot use coupon…..won’t buy your products….sorry charlie

  14. I tried to use my coupon at Walmart today and it was declined. I was purchasing 6 cans of tuna, not just 3.
    I wonder how we are supposed to be compensated if the coupons are declined?

    Maybe we need a class action suit against the settlement administrators.

  15. I received my $5.03 voucher today and it states that you “must choose at least 3 Starkist products, in any combination & size, to qualify.”

    • Have you tried to use it yet? Mine was declined by Walmart and I was actually purchasing 6 cans of tuna instead of only 3.

  16. FREDERICK J ROSENTHAL says:

    Ditto here. Had completely forgotten about this claim $5.03 oupon in the mail today. I’ll take this forgotten claim coupon any time! FJR Mountaineer

  17. Debbie Taylor says:

    Got my $5.03 coupon. I forgot i did this! Hey I’ll take it. Better than NOTHING!!

    • Have you tried to use it yet? Mine was declined by Walmart and I was actually purchasing 6 cans of tuna instead of only 3.

  18. I’d never even heard of this, so didn’t choose coupons OR check, and yet just received a voucher for $5.03 in the mail. Weirder still, they sent it to me here in Washington State, when I lived in Idaho during all the years in question (and I still have Idaho ID).

    • Everyone’s personal data is everywhere in the corporate/advertising world…and the NSA, too. Read “Permanent Record” by Edward Snowden to understand just how bad this corporate surveillance has become. The consumer themselves has become the commodity, your personal information bought and sold daily, including your home address.

      We got our coupon, had to buy three DIFFERENT products for it to work. There was no way to price it out exactly, so of course we ended up having to spend about $0.40 over the coupon amount. Exactly what Starkist hoped we’d do, earning them a profit even on this meager settlement. What a joke.

  19. Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.

    Benjamin Franklin

  20. Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.

    Benjamin Franklin

  21. Robert P Barry says:

    Just got a coupon for $5.03 today. Hope it works.

  22. Nomore Starkist says:

    How much money did the attorneys get in this ridiculous settlement??? So sick of the corruption in this world….

  23. Got my $2.38 today

    • Got mine yesterday!! I will not waste my time or gasoline trying to cash it!! $2.38 what a joke!! I literally flushed it down the toilet!! Thanks but no thanks ????

  24. Thanks everyone for the updates – I just did the math and updated the story. The settlement was supposed to be $2.74 each, but the settlement fund was ultimately reduced by $468,308. So $468,308 divided by 1.29 million people = 36 cents deducted from everyone’s share = $2.38. A far cry from the $25 most people had originally hoped for! Did anyone out there choose the coupons?

  25. I am sure I marked coupons but also got the pay pal for $2.38.

  26. just got my $2.38 via paypal lol

  27. I just received a payment today for $2.38

  28. I got $2.38 back today.

  29. Because the lawyers are the only ones making money, and they don’t care whether consumers get anything back or not.

  30. when I get mt $5 coupon it will be the last time I buy starkist products.

  31. I want my 25 cent check so I put it on the refrigerator to remind me not to buy Starkist tuna ever again.

  32. There is NO justice here. Let’s just put an end to this lawsuit.

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