Cars And Binding Mandatory Arbitration

Is it possible these days to buy a car, even a used car, from a dealer without a binding mandatory arbitration clause? Nope, we guess not.

From Mother Jones:

After much hassle, the dealership allowed us to bring home the sales paperwork so we could read it over without the salesman hovering over us. Everything seemed to be above board until we got to the end of the buyer’s order and discovered that if we signed the contract, we would waive our rights to sue the dealership in court, before a jury, should any dispute arise after the sale. Instead, as a condition of buying the car, we had to agree to submit to mandatory pre-dispute binding arbitration, handled by the dealership’s pre-selected company, the National Arbitration Forum (NAF).

After learning this, we called our sales guy, Carlton Cotton, and told him we wouldn’t agree to an arbitration clause, but if they took it out, we’d write a check. “That’s not negotiable,” he said. Cotton explained that the dealership inserted the clause to make things simpler for everyone. “We think it’s fair,” he said, and then went on to inform me that we wouldn’t be able to buy a car anywhere without agreeing to arbitration. Clauses like this are standard fare in car contracts throughout the region, he told us, so we should just sign the contract or lose the car to another customer.

So we walked. Because there is nothing fair about mandatory arbitration.

The article goes on to offer a history of MBA and its general evilness, including a write up of our friend Deborah Williams, the “Coffee Beanery” victim who, despite a judgment in her favor by an actual court, lost in arbitration after the opposing party chose their own lawyer as the arbitrator.

Suckers Wanted: How Car Dealers and Other Businesses are Taking Away Your Right to Sue [Mother Jones]