Forces arbitration in user agreements (3 Responses)

Hi Will,

I was just reading an article in today’s NT Times regarding the increasing use of arbitration clauses by major corporations like American Express, Discover, Netfilx, EBay, etc in their user agreements. To quote the article:

“By inserting individual arbitration clauses into a soaring number of consumer and employment contracts, companies like American Express devised a way to circumvent the courts and bar people from joining together in class-action lawsuits, realistically the only tool citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful business practices.

Over the last few years, it has become increasingly difficult to apply for a credit card, use a cellphone, get cable or Internet service, or shop online without agreeing to private arbitration. The same applies to getting a job, renting a car or placing a relative in a nursing home.”

I’m disturbed by this trend which basically prevents a consumers right to litigate when they are in the midst of a dispute. Many of the clauses force consumers to split the cost of arbitration which means if I dispute a $50.00 charge on my Amex bill, I could get stiffed for thousands of dollars in arbitration fees.

The entire article can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/01/business/dealbook/arbitration-everywhere-stacking-the-deck-of-justice.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

It does mention that Mass and California have taken some action to protect consumers there. Is this something that the legislature is looking at?

Regards,
Tony

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    Will Brownsberger
    State Senator
    2d Suffolk and Middlesex District