What should I do with Dell shares?


My husband and I have 300 Dell shares.We just got tax statement our gross income is $135...$20 tax withheld.

Then we got a letter from LinkShareholder Services LLC, 7 Dawson Street, Huntington, NY 11746 saying we had $40,000 in shares and offering some service for a fee......We don’t understand this but can send you a copy by post.

Have you heard of this firm? Maybe I’m paranoid but do I smell a scam here?

Ms W.C., email

My initial response was to be as sceptical as you but it does appear that a LinkShareholder Services does have an interest in the Dell shares. As you probably know, shareholders voted in September last year to approve a scheme in which Michael Dell – the company founder – took the company private again in association with a group called Silver Lake Partners.

As a result, from October 29th last, Dell is no longer a public company and any shares you hold in it are no longer trading. However, the terms of the take private stated that investors would receive $13.75 in cash for every share they held, plus a special dividend of 13 US cents per share. So, you should have got around $4,164 before any tax.

It would appear that has not happened and it is my guess that the company’s “transfer agent” is trying to track down shareholders who have not yet applied for their payment, like you. The company’s transfer agent is a group called American Stock Transfer and Trust (AST) and LINK Shareholder Services is listed on their website as an affiliate. What confused me somewhat is the reference to $40,000 in shares, which is not a figure related in any way to your understanding of your holding.

I am also not happy about them offering services for a fee. If it is the same LINK that is part of AST, they are already being paid by Dell to organise the payment to shareholders.

My suggestion is that you contact AST directly by mail at: American Stock Transfer & Trust, 6201 1 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11219, USA./ You could also try telephoning on 00 1 718 9218124.

Bad attitude to Sepa

I am surprised at your advice given to a fellow Danske Bank customer from Prague. Sepa is indeed up and running and even our beloved Revenue now uses it. It operates in all 28 EU member states including Czech Republic.

It seems anachronistic that someone would have to physically travel to Ireland to set up an account, which, indeed, might be difficult to prove residence with utility bills etc.

The idea behind Sepa is that cross-border transactions can be made by a single bank located on any of the 28 member states. It has also greatly speeded up transfer times between banks.

Your attitude is indicative of an insular mentality shared unfortunately by our Central Bank and National Consumers Agency, whose websites have not been updated to accept the realities of greater European integration.

Mr P.M., Cork

Your faith is touching ...in Sepa that is, not in me. You are quite correct that Sepa should be up and running across the member states of the European Union and a further five non-EU members of the European Free Trade Association (Efta). And, I daresay, that in some of them, it actually is.

What I can assure you is that it is not “up and running” in Ireland. As far as the banking, retail and services sectors are concerned, the more appropriate term would be that they are by and large in the process of being “dragged kicking and screaming” into Sepa compliance.

Try using our supposedly seamless bank switching code. Insofar as it works at all – and I have yet to come across anyone who has found it “seamless” – it expressly does not include Sepa direct debits, i.e. those for companies based outside these borders, including such niche entities as Sky television, among others. Direct debits for such matters must be organised by the individual switching customer outside the switching process. So much for Sepa.

In a profile case recently, Eircom mailed more than 30,000 customers telling them their direct debits had not been drawn down because of a Sepa glitch in its software. They were told they had paid but the money was not taken and they now face the bill again.

The EU commissioner responsible for overseeing the introduction of Sepa – internal markets commissioner Michel Barnier – had to throw in the towel in early January and grant a six-month extension to August 1st. At the time, he said: “I regret having to do this but it is a measure of prudence to counter the possible risk of disruption to payments.”

On that basis – and despite the “anachronism” of someone having to fly home from another EU state to organise a bank account – the advice I gave Mr S.O’S seems the only one practicable.

Please send your queries to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara St reet, D ublin 2, or e mail to dcoyle@irishtimes.ie. This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice.

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