If you turn on your Vizio TV right now, you may see a strange message telling you that “you could get money” from a class-action settlement. That’s because Vizio has settled a $17 million lawsuit for allegedly spying on what you’ve been watching — and it’s telling you how to get your money by controlling your TV, because that isn’t ironic or creepy in the least. It’s a feature that’s been spotted in development last September, so we knew it was coming.
Customers — and the Federal Trade Commission — have accused Vizio of tracking data for years, even getting second-by-second details on what people were watching. It allegedly tracked data by default, made tracking difficult to turn off, and compared those streaming habits against your age and gender to target you with ads. In 2016, some customers filed a class-action lawsuit against the company and in 2017, the FTC fined Vizio $2.2 million as well.
Last year, Vizio settled the lawsuit portion for $17 million, and that’s where the payout is coming from. After subtracting legal fees and dividing the remaining money by the 16 million customers who used their Vizio TVs during the affected time frame, most customers won’t be seeing a tremendous windfall — but at an estimated $13 to $31, it should be enough for a month worth of Netflix if nothing else.
One thing that creepy TV message is good for? Putting the word out about how to get that cash. If you purchased a Vizio TV between February 1st, 2014 and February 6th, 2017, you can visit VizioTVsettlement.com to complete the online paperwork anytime before April 29th, 2019.
As part of the settlement, Vizio already promised to delete any viewing data it collected before February 6th, 2017. It also said it would change the opt-out language to “accept/decline” rather than “accept/settings,” so that users could more clearly decline to have their data tracked if desired.
Even though Vizio is notifying users about the settlement, it maintains its innocence, saying, “Vizio denies these allegations. The court has not decided who is right.”