Brand name riggers of the justice system

Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer - Mon., 3/4/13
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Practically every national brand name you've ever heard of now slips predatory arbitration provisions into their customer terms-of-service agreements and/or employment agreements. Not only do these sneaky inserts strip away your constitutional right to take them to court (peremptorily immunizing them from any wrongs they do to you), but many of the boilerplate provisions also arbitrarily ban you from joining with other small claimants in class actions to hold them accountable. Here is a sampling of 10 market powerhouses that suckerpunch you with this double-whammy:

  • Amazon
  • Dell
  • Starbucks
  • Verizon Wireless
  • AT&T
  • eBay
  • Time Warner
  • Wells Fargo
  • Citibank
  • Microsoft

The list of corporations that underhandedly bar your access to the courts ranges across every business sector. Buying a home? If you choose one from Centex, DR Horton ("America's Builder"), KB, Pulte, or Ryland-it'll come with forced arbitration built into it. Maybe you or a loved one needs a nursing home. That can be an unhappy experience, but if you have a complaint, you'll find that such national chains as Carrington Place, Covenant, and Kindred shove you into the dark hallways of corporate justice.

Take out a student loan from Discover, invest through Charles Schwab or T. Rowe Price, purchase a television from Sony, or a game console from Xbox LIVE, get involved in some e-commerce on eBay or PayPal, get a Starbucks gift card, buy a membership at Gold's Gym, go for entertainment through Ticketmaster or Netflix, or call Orkin for pest control--every one of those transactions comes with a fine-print proviso that waives your Seventh Amendment rights.

The same goes for the contract you'll have to sign if you take a job with nearly any national corporation. From Hooters to Neiman Marcus, Papa John's to Yahoo!, Hobby Lobby to Nordstrom, Manpower to Macy's, the employment agreement that they tell you is just a perfunctory part of putting you on the payroll has the binding arbitration "gotcha" in it.



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