As I have previously blogged about, almost every single consumer contract with a big retailer or service provider includes a broad, sweeping waiver of your rights to a jury trial. Instead, these companies make you agree to arbitrate all disputes in a forum favorable to them. You have probably also waived your right to participate in a class action. This is bad for consumers and good for major companies. It lowers the company’s exposure in case they release a harmful product, and limits the rights of their customers in case of abuse or shady billing practices. Basically, they don’t have to worry as much about treating you fairly. I think that stinks.
However, buried in many of these agreements is an opt-out. If you sign any new consumer agreement in the near future, or if you get an email saying your current agreement has been amended and you have the opportunity to review it, look for the arbitration clause in the agreement, and look for the opt out provision. It will likely require you to mail a letter to some address. Do it. Here is a rejection template:
Via U.S. Mail [or however the agreement specifies]
[address of recipient]
Re: Rejection of Arbitration Provision
To Whom it May Concern:
I am in receipt of your [insert name of agreement, e.g. “Amazon Store Card Agreement”]. Pursuant to [insert arbitration section, e.g. “Section III, “Evil Evisceration of Your Consumer Rights by Corporate Fatcats”] of the Agreement, I am rejecting the arbitration provision. I wish to retain my rights to a jury trial in State or Federal Court.
My information is as follows:
[name, address, account number]
Please let me know if you require any other information. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
Very truly yours,
That’s it. Pay attention to the information requested and include any additional information they request. Also be sure to mail it in within the deadline provided, usually 30 or 60 days.
For the price of a stamp, an envelope, and a piece of paper you retain your constitutional right to a jury trial. Don’t let big behemoth retailers and service providers like Comcast and AT&T and Amazon divide and conquer America’s consumer base–always sign and deliver arbitration rejections!