Why mandatory binding arbitration is bad for consumers

Many consumer contracts, including credit cards, contain mandatory binding arbitration clauses buried in the fine print of the terms and conditions. The clauses are very broad and encompass virtually any dispute between the consumer and the company. Increasingly, creditors are invoking mandatory binding arbitration clauses to collect debts. Rather than sue consumers and pursue a court judgment, credit card companies are forcing consumers into arbitration.

250kangaroo1Arbitration is a dispute resolution process that, according to supporters, produces a resolution in less time and for less money than litigating a case in court. Sounds great, right? But unlike a judge, who is publicly elected and accountable, an arbitrator is chosen by a private arbitration company. The arbitrator is not required to issue a written decision, so the parties rarely get an explanation about the arbitrator’s ruling. And unlike a court ruling, arbitration rulings are final and not subject to appeal. The arbitration clause usually mandates what arbitration company will hear any disputes. Predictably, creditors choose arbitration companies that pander to their interests. Since credit card companies provide the arbitration companies with thousands of cases, which generate huge sums of money for the arbitration companies, its not surprising that they rule against consumers the overwhelming majority of the time. There are even stories of arbitrators being blacklisted by arbitration companies for ruling in favor of a consumer.

Arbitration may indeed resolve a consumer dispute faster and cheaper than a court proceeding. But the arbitrator is chosen by your opponent, rules in favor of your opponent the vast majority of the time, is not required to explain his decision, and his decision cannot be appealed. Sounds like kangaroo court to me.

If a credit card company is forcing you to arbitration or is trying to confirm an arbitration award against you, please contact us immediately to discuss your case.

(photo: Tasumi1968)

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