Today I successfully objected to an arbitration clause and was still able to get the service. It was for acupuncture. I was filling out all the blah blah forms and then I came across the arbitration agreement. I wasn’t even planning on this, I just saw it and got really uncomfortable.
My eyes skimmed over the words… forgo constitutional rights… American Arbitration Association… binding… I thought about all the other arbitration agreements I had signed: cellphones, rental cars, and credit cards—why was it a problem now? I also thought about how I had written post after post about how arbitration strips consumers of their rights… how arbitrators that rule in favor of corporations get most of the work… how I had urged people to support the Arbitration Fairness Act. I signed everything except the arbitration form and slipped it between the papers and handed it back…
I hoped that maybe it would go unnoticed, but the receptionist looked through all the papers and said, “Oh, we need you to sign this one.” The acupuncturist arrived and got in the conversation, which went something like this:
ME: I’m sorry, it’s nothing against you guys, I have no plans to sue you, I just don’t feel comfortable giving up my constitutional rights.
THEM: Well, it’s just something we have to have you sign for our malpractice insurance.
ME: Are you going to deny me treatment if I don’t sign it?
THEM: We have attorneys come in here all the time and they even say that it wouldn’t hold up in a court of law…
ME: Oh, it’ll hold up, believe me. Are you going to deny me treatment if I don’t sign?
Then they gave in and let me get stabbed with needles without signing an arbitration agreement. I wasn’t trying to be a hardass, I just genuinely felt physically distressed when I saw that word staring back at me. ARBITRATION. Consumer Rosa Parks I’m not, but being able to negotiate the contract process, object to what I felt objectionable, and still get the services rendered, felt good.