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San Antonio Express-News





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Arbitration agreements that typically accompany credit card agreements and other services can work well—or work disastrously. What many consumers do not realize is that in numerous everyday interactions with banks, employers and retailers, they are waiving their right to sue in court if a dispute does arise. Given the lack of consumer familiarity with arbitration, there is an inherent fear and distrust of the system often referred to either as alternative dispute resolution or private dispute resolution. Some of that public fear and distrust is well-founded. We know that private dispute resolution poses the opportunity for businesses to potentially take advantage of consumers or employees with little bargaining power.

Though there have been examples of organizations using the leverage of arbitration to abusive ends, other clauses can aid the consumer in finding a resolution at a lower cost than taking a case to court. But a recent study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) shows that most consumers do not know how to use arbitration—or even that they have agreed to it. We must know more about this privatized dispute resolution process to which so many of our consumer, employment and health care claims are headed. Government should require arbitration providers and businesses that impose arbitration to report data on arbitration claims and their resolution and more transparency is needed in such agreements to ensure a fair process.

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Ramona L. Lampley, Contracting away your right to sue: What you need to know about arbitration, San Antonio Express News (last updated May 2, 2015, 11:06 PM).

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