Arbitration - what’s that?
It’s a sneaky but super-powerful clause that just about any business you want to do business with makes you sign up to in their standard contract. It takes away any right you have to sue them in court, and requires you instead to pay an arbitrator who will most likely vote for the company that made you sign up for their service and won’t pay for your attorney’s fee (like the way the laws provide for in a court case). Big business says that it’s good for consumers because “it keeps costs down.” The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau thinks otherwise and it may even be successful in banning them - an effort you should support.
Quiz: What do these two scenarios have in common?
Person 1 is a customer of a major credit card provider. The card company reports Person 1 as late to the credit bureaus when they actually weren’t and now Person 1 can’t get a loan to buy a house!
Person 2 took out a short term internet loan and now the loan company is repeatedly violating State and Federal laws by calling and harassing Person 2 everyday even though Person 2 told them not to!
Here’s the answer: Neither person can get a consumer attorney to take their case for no money down to fix their bad situation to and collect the compensation that they’re owed under the law because neither person opted out of arbitration when they could have!
That’s right - many contracts (that you’ve got to sign or else you don’t get internet service, or a credit card, or some other essential service) provide you, the consumer, the right to opt-out of the arbitration clause in the contract. All you have to do is follow the directions in the contract. Look under the part that says “arbitration.” Does it tell you that you can opt-out by sending a letter within 30 days of the contract - do it! And keep a copy!