Powerful People Want To Hear Your Arbitration Horror Stories

If you’ve been screwed by arbitration, our consumer and public interest friends in DC would like to hear your story for something special they’re cooking up. Arbitration agreements are clauses inside many contracts between companies and yourself that, in the event of a dispute, prohibit you from suing the company in a court of law. Instead, you have to take your case to a special arbitration firm. Arbitration bills itself as a speedy and fair way to resolve legal disputes, but it’s come under heavy fire recently for being heavily weighted in favor of companies. If you’ve gotten the short end of the stick, send your story to arbitration.stories@gmail.com.

(Photo: Getty)

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  1. NightSteel says:

    Heck, post them here too for bonus sympathy. I know I’m interested in hearing about this stuff.

    • Anonymous says:

      @NightSteel:

      Arbitration is a monkey or kangaroo court where the banks and places who use them always win. More and more bans on the class action bans are being won in court to stop all the predatory lending practices going on, especially with banks. Do a search for Advanta complaints and you’ll be amazed at the laws being broken by Advanta and the horrible predatory lending practices they are doing. They can hide behind their arbitration clause and class action waiver to keep you from bringing on a class action lawsuit. Also do a search for Ban on Arbitration Clause Bans and you’ll be amazed at how many of these companies trying to hide behind the arbitration are losing them as uncinsionable and unenforceable.

  2. alexawesome says:

    Agreed. After some shady dealings with comcast sending out a arbitration agreement notice that you were automatically agreed to unless you read the fine print and went through the arduous opt-out process, I’m very interested in this. It seems like when companies sniff out a potential for a class-action, they like to send out shady arbitration notices.

  3. altryan says:

    I think arbitration is a farce and a gross injustice. It undermines the entire justice system. IMHO.

  4. twophrasebark says:

    Arbitrators do not get business from consumers. They get business from the giant corporations that choose them for their gazillions of arbitrations.

    Guess who they tend to favor in their decisions?

    But it’s even worse than that. They don’t even try to be objective. They so frequently rule in favor of their corporate overloads, that the entire industry is starting to look like a complete joke.

    Greedy people never seem to be very bright, eh?

    • dragonfire81 says:

      @twophrasebark: I remember seeing a report on some arbitration company who, in 25 000 cases, ruled in favor of the company in over 24 900 of them!

      Tell me that’s not “weighted”

      • twophrasebark says:

        @dragonfire81: Can you imagine what those 100 cases were like???

        Company employee wrote letter saying “I did it. We defrauded you, ha ha ha, suck it!!! See what the arbitrators will do about it, ha ha ha, fool.”

  5. mythago says:

    Funnily, most companies don’t want arbitration in their dealings with ONE ANOTHER. Just for you piddly consumers.

    A lot of the slant in arbitration decisions is not so much the arbitrators openly hating consumers, but companies who use arbitrators are “frequent fliers” – they know the system and the individual arbitrators quite well. And, of course, consumer-sympathetic arbitrators won’t get hired again.

    • bagumpity says:

      @mythago: Actually, I’m on a gig right now where both sides have agreed to binding arbitration in the case of a dispute. I have to admit that I was very surprised to see that clause in the contract.

  6. SkokieGuy says:

    Arbitration companies are a bit like real estate appraisers. They are making a subjective decision and are ultimately beholden to who hires them.

    They give the illusion of impartiality and fairness, while doing ‘what it takes’ to insure they earn repeat business.

    Since arbitration agreements are not presented as optional, they are inherently unfair.

    Hi! Take out our credit card and unilaterally waive your right to impartial justice.

    Since in many industries arbitration is virtually universal, (the legal equivalent of price-fixing?) there is no ‘competition’ in the marketplace to offer consumers alternatives.

  7. Ein2015 says:

    There should be no alternative to the justice system.

  8. howtragic says:

    Arbitration can be an excellent way to solve disputes without having to rely on expensive, time-consuming litigation. It can be a wonderful alternative to litigation, but the problem arises when the parties negotiating the clause are in unequal positions of power. Additionally, the only way that the consumer can really ever stick it to the corporation is through a class-action lawsuit. That’s where I have a problem with these arbitration clauses that are very often buried in adhesion contracts that the average consumer doesn’t even read. Arbitration should only be used when both parties consciously agree to it.

  9. bones11 says:

    Hell why not, I’ll post mine here.

    I signed up for cell service through Verizon in May ’07. I read and reread the contract and understood the etf fully, they would take $5 off the $175 for each month I had service with them should I choose to cancel. I signed up through a 3rd party kiosk at the mall. Anyways I signed and initialed everything including agreeing to the arbitration agreement. I ported my number to ATT after 5 months and 1 week because they were about $40 cheaper per month than Verizon. That was in October ’07., in December I paid in full the etf directly to a Verizon rep.

    Two weeks ago I received a letter from the 3rd party saying I owe them money because I canceled service before 6 months in to my contract. Apparently the money is for the lost commission on the sale so they are trying to recoup the difference of the full price of the phone to the sale price they gave me. They are sending me this letter 1 year after I ported my number out. When I asked why so late they said they got a new computer database and just finished moving everything to a new server so they’re behind on a lot of accounts.

    Anyways they want me to pay $150 for the difference on the phone sale. I never agreed to any kind of 6 month termination plan with that company. I asked if he would mail me the contract and he wouldn’t. I went to the kiosk and asked to see the agreement, turns out it’s a separate paper they staple to the contract after the contract has been signed.

    Any thoughts on how to get out of that bill? I talked the guy down from owing $200 to $120 but that’s still something I don’t think I should pay nor do I want to pay.

    • TheSpatulaOfLove says:

      @bones11:

      If you didn’t sign the agreement that was stapled on, tell them to go scratch. Judge Judy would LOVE that one. ;)

    • Difdi says:

      @bones11: I don’t see that you owe them anything…inform them that you signed a contract with them, and when you signed it, the extra page was not included.

      • frodo_35 says:

        They don’t have to prove anything to screw up your credit. If you do not pay get ready for a lot of bs. Is it worth it. If I were you I would get verizon involved. I don’t think verizon wants their name tacked onto those types of shady business deals.

        • NightSteel says:

          @frodo_35:

          I’m pretty sure that’s not true. They can *try* to screw up your credit, but if you formally dispute it, then they *have* to show proof.

          Pardon my post/thread necromancy…

  10. bones11 says:

    Oh I meant I talked them down from $200 to $150

  11. TakingItSeriously is a Technopile says:

    Yeah. Refuse to pay, and make sure you contest anything they put on your credit report. I doubt very strongly that they will pay several thousand dollars for an Arbiter to collect a $150 unwarranted bill.

  12. Roycester says:

    We’ve been fighting arbitration for a couple of years now – http://www.arbitrationjustice.com Join in the forum and learn now to fight back.

  13. jdhuck says:

    Back in 1998 I went through Arbitration over a car with Chrysler.
    Chrysler was allowed to buy the car back at a deep discount. We paid $19,000 and Chrysler bought it back for 16,000. I was forced to accept this or at least I thought I had to. The car was defective and could not be fixed. i wish I would have been as wise as I am now, because I would have handled things differently

    To me, Arbitration is a nice way to say bend over, here it comes.

  14. Urgleglurk says:

    Arbitration is pure BS. Unfortunately, it is indeed buried in contracts or forced on the consumer as part of doing business with large corporations. As far as I am concerned, it should be banned.

  15. levenhopper says:

    At first glance at the title/picture, I thought this said abortion….

  16. Joeyjojo says:

    “our consumer and public interest friends in DC “

    Can we get clarification as to who is actually reading the emails we’d be sending in?

    My insurance company is going into arbitration with our car dealer’s insurance company. Neither company seems that interested in coming to any resolution that would actually help us, being the customer of both companies.

  17. sonneillon says:

    The arbitration companies only have to work hard enough to not get it’s members disbarred for ethical violations. It is really hard to get disbarred for ethical violations. Think about how hard it was to disbar Jack Thompson and he accused the bar association of being involved in criminal racketeering.

  18. CSchnack says:

    sonneillon, re: your statement, “It is really hard to get disbarred for ethical violations.” I agree.

    We hired a lawyer a few years back to represent us in a construction defect case. He did no work, lost one of our payments, lied to us by claiming the othr side’s attorneys had not contacted him when they had, failed to negotiate a settlement or even make contact with the other side (which is what we wanted him to do), nearly missed our statute of limitations, then forged our signatures and had his assistant notarize them. We filed a bar complaint which resulted only in a private reprimand. (The bar’s general counsel has since resigned in a sex scandal) Years later, after at least one other serious complaint, he was suspended but only for one year. The lawyer he still works with and is “overseen” by? His mother!

    That these arbitrators are subject to even LESS oversight says a lot. And one of the owners of a construction arbitration company was twice disbarred, but was nevertheless practicing law as an arbitrator. Many homeowners lost when they should not have in those arbitrations. We only were able to pursue our case by getting out of arbitration, which was very difficult to do.