For those unfamiliar with the whole “binding arbitration” thing, it works like this: A company adds a paragraph or two of language to its already over-complicated user agreement (which most people never read in the first place) that effectively takes away the right to join in any future class-action suits against the company. So even if the company does something that adversely, and unjustly, affects all of its customers, each customer would have to enter into mediated arbitration with the company instead of being able to join together as a class.
Sounds like a shady, anti-consumer practice that could in no way pass legal muster, right? Nope, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of such clauses in 2011 and since then, large companies have been rushing to leash their customers with binding arbitration clauses.
Here is the language that was recently added to the StubHub user agreement:
9.2 Agreement to Arbitrate. You and StubHub each agree that any and all disputes or claims that have arisen or may arise between you and StubHub relating in any way to or arising out of this or precious versions of the User Agreement, your use of or access to StubHub’s Site or Services, or any tickets or related passes sold or purchased through StubHub’s Site or Services shall be resolved exclusively through final and binding arbitration, rather than in court, except that you may assert claims in small claims court, if your claims qualify. The Federal Arbitration Act governs the interpretation and enforcement of this Agreement to Arbitrate.
(a)Prohibition of Class and Representative Actions and Non-Individualized Relief
YOU AND STUBHUB AGREE THAT EACH OF US MAY BRING CLAIMS AGAINST THE OTHER ONLY ON AN INDIVIDUAL BASIS AND NOT AS A PLAINTIFF OR CLASS MEMBER IN ANY PURPORTED CLASS OR REPRESENTATIVE ACTION OR PROCEEDING. UNLESS BOTH YOU AND STUBHUB AGREE OTHERWISE, THE ARBITRATOR MAY NOT CONSOLIDATE OR JOIN MORE THAN ONE PERSON’S OR PARTY’S CLAIMS, AND MAY NOT OTHERWISE PRESIDE OVER ANY FORM OF A CONSOLIDATED, REPRESENTATIVE, OR CLASS PROCEEDING. ALSO, THE ARBITRATOR MAY AWARD RELIEF (INCLUDING MONETARY, INJUNCTIVE, AND DECLARATORY RELIEF) ONLY IN FAVOR OF THE INDIVIDUAL PARTY SEEKING RELIEF AND ONLY TO THE EXTENT NECESSARY TO PROVIDE RELIEF NECESSITATED BY THAT PARTY’S INDIVIDUAL CLAIM(S). ANY RELIEF AWARDED CANNOT AFFECT OTHER STUBHUB USERS.
However, there is a way for StubHub customers to opt out of the clause. Current StubHub users must do so by April 18, 2013. New customers will have 30 days from the date they accept the User Agreement for the first time.
StubHub has created a template [PDF] that customers can print out and mail in.
If you want to make your own, here is the required information that must go on the letter:
StubHub, Inc. Opt-Out Notice
I am writing to provide notice that I’m opting out of the Agreement to Arbitrate in the StubHub, Inc. User Agreement. Pursuant to the terms of the Agreement to Arbitrate, I’m providing the requested information as follows:
My Street Address:
City/Town Where I Reside:
State Where I Reside:
Email address associated with the StubHub account for which I’m opting out of the Agreement to Arbitrate:
(Please list all email addresses associated with the account.)
As usual, while you can accept the terms of an anti-consumer user agreement with the click of a button, the only way to opt out of this nonsense is by mail.
All opt-out notices MUST be sent to:
Attn: Litigation Department
2145 Hamilton Avenue, San Jose, CA 95125
Do NOT send opt-out notices to any other address. And don’t forget, the letter must be signed.