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]
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]
Among the other controversial changes to Instagram’s Terms of Service is a spanking new forced-arbitration clause that, as things do, effectively takes away consumers’ rights to band together in a class-action against the company. Thankfully, you can opt out of the clause in writing before Feb. 15, 2013. [More]
Credit card companies scored a win yesterday, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that credit card claims by consumers must go to arbitration, instead of being tried in a court room. The ruling overturned one made by a U.S. appeals court in San Francisco that had said the Credit Card Repair Organizations Act was meant to bar arbitration. [More]
Here’s a live webcast of the judiciary committee’s hearing on mandatory binding arbitration going on right now. The title of the hearing is “Arbitration: Is it Fair When Forced?” Arbitration clauses appear in all sorts of consumer contracts and they mandate that in order to use the product or service, you have to agree to give up your right to sue if anything goes wrong. Originally designed for businesses to expedite disputes with other businesses, binding arbitration clauses are now also a popular way for companies to strip consumers of their basic legal rights. Since the hearing is chaired by Senator Al Franken, you know there’s bound to be some good zingers. Pop the popcorn and sit back! [More]
Here’s something neat. Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Cablevision/Optimum actually let customers opt out of arbitration when they sign up. If you don’t want to give up your right to personally sue them in a court of law and be forced into a kangaroo court overseen by a judge whose fees are paid for by the company you’re suing, Cablevision will let you. The caveat is that you have to tell them within 30 days of signing your contract. Here’s the links and relevant contract language to opt-out: [More]
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. [More]
A provision buried deep within the recently passed Wall Street reform bill has the power to finally kill off mandatory binding arbitration, one of the more dangerous anti-consumer practices still sanctioned by law. While the bill includes a limited provision banishing arbitration agreements from mortgages and home equity loans, it also gives broad powers to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to kill off arbitration in all other consumer financial products. [More]
A little over two weeks ago, tipped by reader Chan, we told you about how buried in T-Mobile’s online terms and conditions is a way to opt-out of their mandatory binding arbitration clause, but unfortunately the website where you were supposed to do it was down. We gave their PR guy a heads up and now the site, www.t-mobiledisputeresolution.com, is online. [More]
Think the arbitration clause in a contract is unfair? Go ahead and contest it! Of course, you shouldn’t expect to win, since the Supreme Court has just ruled that it’s just fine for the arbitrator to decide whether the clause is fair. [More]
Consumerist is no fan of mandatory binding arbitration, a clause in many consumer contracts that forces you to give up your right to sue in small claims court and have all disputes resolved by a professional arbitration firm that gets paid directly by the companies. So when I saw that there was an way to opt-out of T-Mobile’s arbitration clause online, I was stoked. Then I tried to go there, and the site was broken. Fail phone! UPDATE: T-Mobile Fixes Broken Arbitration Opt-Out Site [More]
A woman who was allegedly raped while working for Halliburton/Kellogg Brown & Root in Iraq will have her civil claims heard in court, not by a company-selected arbitrator, thanks to a ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Feisty Dell laptop purchaser Elijah says he bought a Dell laptop that failed him, and when Dell warrantied it out it sent an inferior one in its place, saying it had comparable functionality. As this replacement laptop has a smaller screen and a weird haunted keyboard that presses Ctrl all on its own, Elijah doesn’t agree.
The “credit union on steroids” has gone to mandatory binding arbitration for all disputes, removing customers’ ability to successfully sue them if things go wrong. Previously, USAA had arbitration as an option, but allowed members to opt out. Now, if you want to opt out of arbitration, you’ll have to close your accounts.
Last month, the Minnesota Attorney General brought an oppressive arbitration regime to its knees. Nation Arbitration Forum handled over 200,000 arbitrations per year. But many of those cases will end up in the 50 states’ district courts, where consumers may fare no better.