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What’s in the fine print: Forced Arbitration

Posted in Consumer rights,Uncategorized on October 16, 2014

We’ve all seen it- we go to buy the latest cell phone or apply for a new credit card and there it is, page after page of fine print. Most of us see those pages and easily skip over them and sign the back of an agreement without ever knowing what we just agreed to. Unfortunately, lurking in the fine print is a huge danger to consumer rights-forced arbitration.

Most people do not understand arbitration, much less forced arbitration. Arbitration, as defined by the National Association of Consumer Advocates is “an alternative method of resolving disputes in which two parties present their individual sides of a complaint to an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators. The arbitrator decides the rules, weighs the facts and arguments of both parties, and then decides the dispute.”

Forced arbitration, as defined by the same group, when “a company requires a consumer or employee to submit any dispute that may arise to binding arbitration as a condition of employment or buying a product or service. The employee or consumer is required to waive their right to sue, to participate in a class action lawsuit, or to appeal. Forced arbitration is mandatory, the arbitrator’s decision is binding, and the results are not public.” This short film highlights the dangers of forced arbitration