When you buy a new cellphone you have to sign a contract where you give up your right to sue. You agree to what’s called, “mandatory binding arbitration.” This is a bad thing to give to an industry that has high levels of complaints about hidden fees and abusive anti-consumer practices. Because if their crummy customer service fails to remedy an issue, your last resort option is to participate in a kangaroo court system that is paid for out of fees paid by the cellphone companies themselves. So Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Al Franken (D-MN) have today introduced The Consumer Mobile Fairness Act that would ban mandatory arbitration clauses in cellphone contracts.
Said Blumenthal, “Smartphone users deserve their day in court for legitimate complaints against abuses. Consumers should have rights to access to appropriate avenues – enforceable in court – for recourse in order to hold cell phone companies accountable for poor service or excessive fees. For consumers relying on smartphones – growing in number – the shield to accountability enjoyed by companies can lead to unfair contracts and unacceptable costs.”
Said Franken, “Consumers should never be forced to give up their rights in order to purchase a cell phone or get a new data plan. This bill makes sure that Minnesotans have the ability to hold their mobile service providers accountable if they are cheated. It also ensures that any dispute resolved through arbitration is truly voluntary, and that consumers are not being forced into it.”
Like to see what becomes of this.
To learn more about how mandatory binding arbitration agreements work, here is a fun “choose your own adventure” style story to help illustrate.