What Is Arbitration? You Sign Away Rights. Is That OK?

May 15, 2012
Christian Science Monitor 

Many consumers may not even realize that they have signed an arbitration clause with their cell phone carrier or credit card provider, under which they agree to forgo their right to a trial or lawsuit if a dispute arises. Instead, the case is heard by a private arbitrator who makes a binding decision. The corporate world insists the practice is fair and curtails litigation costs. According to a 2010 study by the Pew Safe Checking in the Electronic Age Project, of the 265 different types of checking accounts offered by the country's 10 biggest banks, all but 10 require consumers to sign give up their right to a jury trial. Additionally, for 189 accounts, customers must agree to have the dispute settled by an arbitrator selected by the bank. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently announced that it will investigate the use of such clauses in financial contracts. The agency is asking consumers to share their experiences with arbitration clauses by June 23, 2012.
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