The last couple decades, it seems as though we’re being forced into mandatory arbitration agreements with every product and service we use. Whether it’s doctors, cell phone providers, or banks… pretty much everyone is forcing us to have our disputes handled by arbitration, waiving our rights to take a matter to court
Why It’s Unfair
Although arbitration saves big money for the business, it’s rarely fair to the consumer. Because the company is paying for the process (and often using the same arbitrators over and over) you can guess how the rulings usually go. Add in the fact that there’s no jury and you’re only allowed to present very limited evidence, it’s not very consumer-friendly. To make matters worse, even when the business is found to be at fault, the awards are typically only a tiny fraction of what you would get in court.
A Move In The Right Direction
On November 20, 2009, Chase announced they would drop forced arbitration on their credit cards – starting in 2010 and they will do so for at least three and a half years. Why? It’s the result of a class action lawsuit filed against Chase and a number of other major credit card issuers which accused them of “secretly consulting each other numerous times with the aim of requiring cardholders to arbitrate all disputes.” In return, the plaintiffs have agreed to not hold Chase liable for this alleged practice.
This is great news for consumers and I hope this trend continues. No one should be forced to waive their rights to a court trial unless they choose to do so.