All About Arbitration

A System to Keep Big Business Honest, and Help You Get Compensated

All FairShake claims are administered by the American Arbitration Association (AAA) - it's like going to court, but easier.

More on the AAA

If you want to know everything about consumer arbitration, you’ve come to the right place. (If you want to know how FairShake helps you with the process, start here)



Arbitration is a way to resolve a dispute with a company without the formality and expense of having to go to court. It allows you to have your dispute decided by a neutral third party, rather than the company.

The “arbitrator” – the person who decides your dispute – acts like a judge and has the power to issue binding decisions about your claim.

Arbitrations filed through FairShake are administered by the American Arbitration Association – a non-profit that administers arbitrations.


The “Arbitrator” is like a judge – she or he listens to your story and evidence (and those of the company) and issues a decision about how your dispute should be resolved. The arbitrator is often a practicing lawyer or retired judge who has no connections to you or the company.

The “Claimant” is you – the person who is submitting a claim against the company.

The “Respondent” is the company that you’re filing a claim against – they are the ones who have to “respond” to your claim in front of the arbitrator.

The American Arbitration Association is a non-profit organization that administers arbitrations – they appoint case administrators and arbitrators and provide the procedural rules for the arbitration.



Many companies require you to resolve disputes with them through individual arbitration. The companies listed on FairShake’s website all include a clause in their contracts that prohibit you from filing a traditional lawsuit or joining a class action against them. However, many companies and the AAA permit you to file eligible claims in small claims court.



This depends on the agreement between you and the company. The American Arbitration Association requires both you and the company to pay “filing fees” and cover other costs associated with the arbitration, but in many cases the company has agreed to pay all of those fees, or reimburse you for the portion that you have to pay. FairShake sometimes covers your portion of any filing fees (and is entitled to their reimbursements). In addition to filing fees, you may have to pay the company’s legal fees if you file a fake or frivolous claim.



The arbitrator will listen to both you and the company and may ask you and the company to provide proof of what you each say. This may happen through emails (a “documents-only” proceeding), over the phone or, in some cases, in person. The arbitrator will then consider everything she or he has learned and will issue a decision – an order that resolves the dispute, just like in court. This order is binding and, in most cases, final.

What does FairShake do in an arbitration?

FairShake automates the process for filing consumer disputes through the American Arbitration Association, making it easy for you to take your issues beyond customer service.

Below is a description of every step that we take when you file a claim through our interface. FairShake does not change this process based on your particular claim, so you should only use FairShake if you want to take the following steps.

The entire process, from submitting your claim to a final arbitration decision, can take multiple months. However, most FairShake claims are resolved early in this process. Claims filed through FairShake rarely make it through all of these steps, because companies usually offer to settle (before Step 6, where an arbitrator is appointed).

What Are the Steps of Arbitration?

Step 1 - You fill out our online form


To start your claim, use our online interface to create an account, tell us which company you want to claim against, and describe your issue and what you want the company to do about it.

Step 2 - We send the company a letter


We take the information that you’ve submitted and put it in a hard-copy letter (that’s right – old fashion snail mail) to the appropriate company. We tell the company that, if they haven’t sent you an offer to resolve your issue within a certain amount of time, your claim may escalate to a consumer arbitration.

calendar Then we wait 30-60 days...

Step 3 - The company offers to settle


At any time after we send the company a letter, it can offer to resolve your issue. They may send the offer to you through FairShake, or may contact you directly by phone or email. If you accept an offer at any time, then congratulations! Please let us know by signing in to your FairShake dashboard, selecting the claim and clicking “It’s Resolved!”.


Step 3 - We generate your arbitration filing documents


If the company has not offered to settle within the waiting period, then we’ll give you the option of escalating your claim to consumer arbitration by automatically generating and submitting the form documents of the American Arbitration Association. We’ll use the description of your claim and request that you provided (in your own words or the form you’ve chosen). We’ll also use your contact information. We will default to requesting a “documents only” arbitration – which means that you won’t have to show up for a meeting or phone call to discuss the issue. If you would like to request an in-person or telephone hearing, please contact us using your FairShake dashboard.

Step 4 - We file your consumer arbitration


After generating your filing documents, we will file them instantly with the American Arbitration Association to start your arbitration. We will also send a copy of the documents to the company to tell them that the arbitration has been filed. In some cases, the American Arbitration Association will require you to pay a filing fee of $200 – and the company will usually reimburse you for this. We may offer to pay the filing fee – if you accept, we will be entitled to any reimbursement of the filing fee.

calendar Then we wait about 2 weeks...

Step 5 - Your case administrator is appointed


The American Arbitration Association will appoint someone to manage the administrative matters for your claim, including getting documents filled out and scheduling appointments (if any). The case administrator will also ask for identifying information of everyone involved in the claim. In that same communication, the company will be issued a bill for administrative costs of the arbitration (usually a few thousand dollars).

calendar Then we wait about 2 weeks...

Step 6 - Your arbitrator is appointed


Your claim administrator will notify you that an arbitrator – the person who will act like a judge for your dispute – has been appointed, and will give you two weeks to object to the appointment.

calendar Then we wait about 2 weeks...

Step 7 - The pre-arbitration meeting


This is where all of the parties – you and the company – and the arbitrator have a phone call to discuss how the arbitration will take place. If you are having a “documents only” arbitration, you will set the dates on which the documents are due. If you requested an in-person or telephonic hearing to argue your claim, then you will set a date for the hearing. Your claim administrator will schedule this meeting.

Step 8 - Your arbitration & decision


Your arbitration will take place in the manner that you agreed to in your pre-arbitration phone call. FairShake is not an attorney, so cannot be present or represent you in your arbitration; however, FairShake will provide you with self-help materials that you can use to understand the process and win your claim.

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