Why You Should Opt Out Of Forced Arbitration, In 3 Sentences

(afagen)

While more and more companies are adding “forced arbitration” clauses to their terms of service, only a handful of these businesses are offering customers the choice to opt out of this part of the contract. Here are the reasons why you should take advantage of that option whenever possible. [More]

Supreme Court Won’t Stop Class-Action Lawsuits Over Front-Loading Washing Machines

Supreme Court Won’t Stop Class-Action Lawsuits Over Front-Loading Washing Machines

After several years of shutting down class-action lawsuits or affirming businesses’ ability to preempt such suits with forced arbitration, the U.S. Supreme Court today chose not to hear challenges to a trio of class actions about supposedly defective washing machines from three leading manufacturers. [More]

DropBox Jumps On Forced Arbitration Bandwagon, But Offers Online Opt-Out

DropBox Jumps On Forced Arbitration Bandwagon, But Offers Online Opt-Out

Another company is taking the coward’s way out of resolving legal disputes with its customers by tweaking its Terms of Service to take away users’ rights to take the company to court and to prevent multiple users from having their complaints heard as a group. This time, it’s online storage service Dropbox, which is currently notifying users of the bad news. [More]

Prepaid Debit Cards: Salvation From Overdraft Fees Or Putting Your Money At Risk?

Prepaid Debit Cards: Salvation From Overdraft Fees Or Putting Your Money At Risk?

No overdraft penalties, no overspending and sometime low but occasionally ridiculous fees are all perks that have led consumers to an increased use of prepaid debit cards in the last year. And while the cards are convenient there are plenty of reasons consumers should by wary. [More]

DirectBuy Closed Members’ Local Showroom: Now What?

DirectBuy Closed Members’ Local Showroom: Now What?

Longtime Consumerist readers might remember that we aren’t huge fans of the advertising or sales tactics that shopping club DirectBuy uses. But if someone does spend thousands of dollars to join, then they should be treated fairly by the company, right? Not when the nearest showroom closes down, and the company doesn’t understand why their new members can’t make an easy two-hour trip to the nearest one that remains open. [More]

Your Guide To Proposed Laws & Regulation That Could Help Consumers In 2014

Your Guide To Proposed Laws & Regulation That Could Help Consumers In 2014

2013 is gone, a collection of memories never to be dealt with again.  Next week, the 113th Congress returns for its second session, ideally to enact legislation throughout 2014, some of which could help consumers if they were to become law. [More]

Watch Al Franken Shred A Pro-Arbitration Professor For Trying To Gloss Over The Problem

Watch Al Franken Shred A Pro-Arbitration Professor For Trying To Gloss Over The Problem

Earlier this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on mandatory binding arbitration clauses, those fun bits of contractual language that take away your right to sue a company and force you into a resolution process that is heavily weighted in the company’s favor.  The hearing was chaired by Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, who earlier this year introduced the proposed Arbitration Fairness Act, and so he obviously has a thing or two to say on the topic. [More]

CFPB Report Confirms That Banks & Credit Card Companies Are Taking Away Your Right To Sue

CFPB Report Confirms That Banks & Credit Card Companies Are Taking Away Your Right To Sue

In 2011, the Supreme Court held that it was A-OK to not only hide a complicated forced-arbitration clause in a novel-length contract for a consumer product or service, but that it was also just peachy that such a clause stripped the consumer of his/her right to bind together with other affected customers in a class action. Since then, sellers of everything from cellphone service to video games have added these complicated clauses in an attempt to keep complaining consumers out of court and into the unfair arena of arbitration. Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued its first report on forced arbitration, and the results are, sadly, not shocking. [More]

Court To Hear Arguments In Case That Could Allow Companies To Litigate In Secret

Court To Hear Arguments In Case That Could Allow Companies To Litigate In Secret

Companies don’t ever want the public to know they’re involved in lawsuits. This is one of the many reasons that a growing number of businesses now force consumers to agree to mandatory arbitration for resolving disputes; it keeps the fight out of the public eye and often doesn’t allow for multiple consumers to join their complaints. Tomorrow, a federal appeals court will hear arguments regarding a case that ultimately could give companies the ability to litigate cases under a veil of secrecy. [More]

(Rich Rogala)

Yelp Sues Law Firm Over Allegedly Bogus Reviews

The folks at Yelp have decided to get tough with what they believe are businesses that post fake reviews on the site in order to appeal to customers or to counteract genuine, negative feedback from actual customers. The company has sued a small San Diego-based bankruptcy law firm, alleging that it filled its profile with false, positive reviews. [More]

(MoneyBlogNewz)

Comcast Lawsuit Shows Why Mandatory Binding Arbitration Is Just Plain Evil

I know, I know… lots of you hear a phrase like “mandatory binding arbitration” and your eyes gloss over and your mind drifts off like it did when your high school history teacher tried to teach you about the Monroe Doctrine or the Teapot Dome scandal. And that’s exactly how companies like Comcast — and AT&T, Time Warner Cable, American Express, Sony, Microsoft, eBay, and many, many others want you to react. But here’s a decent example of why you should give a hoot about having your rights taken away by a few words in a contract you can’t possibly alter. [More]

(angela n.)

TiVo Adds Mandatory Binding Arbitration For Customers: Here’s How To Opt Out

We at Consumerist have crusaded against the evils of mandatory binding arbitration for most of the last decade. Companies love it, though, because it means we can’t sue them. TiVo is only the latest company to insert language requiring customers to use arbitration and give up their right to sue. You can opt out of that provision, though, if you want to. [More]

Time Warner Cable Customers Sue Over CBS Blackout

Time Warner Cable Customers Sue Over CBS Blackout

It’s two weeks into the Time Warner Cable vs. CBS staring contest and millions of TV viewers around the country still have no access to the network or its premium counterpart Showtime. That means it’s apparently time to call in the lawyers. [More]

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Straight Talk Users Sue Walmart And TracFone Over Throttling Of Unlimited Data Plans

Once again, a lawsuit calls into question the definition of “unlimited” when it refers to smartphone data plans. This time, the plaintiff claims that Straight Talk Wireless (a partnership between TracFone and Walmart) is effectively putting monthly data caps in place by throttling data speeds for users once they use a certain amount of data. Furthermore, alleges the complaint, users aren’t being told about the throttling until it’s too late. [More]

Important information: Time Warner Cable hates you.

Time Warner Cable Jacking Up Modem Fees

Not even a year after Time Warner Cable ticked off its entire customer base (except maybe some who are also heavily invested in TWC) by deciding to charge a $3.95/month modem rental fee for equipment that customers already had in their homes, the company has done as we predicted and begun raising that rate to $5.99 a month for equipment that is now even older and more out-of-date than it was last October. [More]

(bclinesmith)

Supreme Court Deals Another Blow To Consumers, Lets Companies Use Forced Arbitration To Skirt The Law

The Supreme Court has once again ruled that forced arbitration clauses in contracts are enforceable, and that they can be used to preempt class-action lawsuits, even in cases where class-action suits are the only economically feasible way for the plaintiff to make its case. [More]

Click on the image to see how each of the surveyed banks fared in the Disclosures categories.

Consumer-Friendly Checking Account Practices Vary Wildly From Bank To Bank

Unless you’ve been hiding under a bed for the last six years, you probably know that the banking industry isn’t exactly beloved by many American consumers. As a reaction to public sentiment (and threats of regulation), a number of banks have begun phasing in some more consumer-friendly practices, but a new study shows these changes are not industry-wide and that several banks are still years behind. [More]

Charles Schwab Drops Class-Action Ban Clause From Contracts

Charles Schwab Drops Class-Action Ban Clause From Contracts

After AT&T somehow convinced the U.S. Supreme Court that a couple of sentences buried toward the end of a contract that maybe .05% of customers ever think about reading was all that was needed to preempt class-action lawsuits, many large companies have rushed to pack their user agreements and licenses with clauses that force customers into arbitration. But, stuck in a battle with an industry regulator, the folks at Charles Schwab have decided to go another way, announcing that they have gotten rid of the part of their arbitration clause that bans class-action suits… for now. [More]