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As Companies Limit Consumer Lawsuits, Their Official Alternative Has Yet to Gain Traction

Published on May 2, 2019 by the FairShake Team

Data from American Arbitration Association Shows Few Consumers Exercise Legal Rights to Arbitration

OAKLAND, CA (May 2, 2019) – With over 150 million subscribers, AT&T is one of America’s largest companies. And in the first three months of 2019, exactly 111 of those customers resolved service disputes using the official legal venue outlined in the fine print of AT&T’s contract.

FairShake: The Consumer Rights Service

Newly-released data on the volume of consumer arbitration from the American Arbitration Association (AAA) demonstrates how rare it is for consumers to take legal action under contract terms. Consumer advocacy service FairShake provided additional analysis of the data.

Since the Supreme Court’s 2011 ruling in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, large American companies can include mandatory arbitration clauses in standard contract language, eliminating access to state and federal courts as well as the possibility of class action lawsuits.

In an arbitration proceeding, a neutral legal professional is empowered to resolve disputes between consumers and corporations. Contracts typically require disputes over aggressive sales tactics, overbilling, and improper credit reporting to be handled via the arbitration process. This clause remains in effect even in cases of systematic wrongdoing like the Wells Fargo fake account scandal.

FairShake’s analysis noted that AT&T’s 111 resolved cases in Q1 were the most among the over 450 companies registered with the AAA. (AT&T’s figure includes cases brought against their subsidiary DirecTV).

companies-with-the-most-arbitrations

Following AT&T (NYSE: T), the companies with the most resolved cases in the quarter included fellow telecom conglomerate Comcast (CMCSA), as well as financial companies Citibank (C), Credit One, and Santander Consumer USA (SAN).

Overall, 895 consumer cases were resolved through the AAA in the first quarter, a 20 percent increase over resolved in the same span last year. Of this year’s resolutions, 59 percent concluded through a private settlement between the consumer and the company.

According to FairShake co-founder and CEO Teel Lidow, arbitration can be a powerful option for consumers. “We hear from so many individuals who are worried about the cost or hassle of pursuing justice. With consumer arbitration, companies often commit in their contracts to pay all hearing fees. And the whole process is typically done by conference call, with no trip to a courthouse.”

FairShake’s consumer advocacy platform enables consumers to easily and efficiently file arbitration claims with the AAA.  “Courts have told Americans that arbitration is a fair and efficient way to resolve their consumer disputes, and in many cases it’s the only available option,” said Lidow. “Clearly not enough people know about it.”

About FairShake

FairShake is building the consumer empowerment platform of the future. Our mission is to give consumers superpowers to take on big companies and win. Founded in 2018, FairShake has helped thousands of consumers through the company’s online platform that makes it easy to file and track complaints, and to escalate them to the consumer arbitration system if negotiation fails.

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For more information, please contact:

Max Kornblith
Head of Marketing & Analytics, FairShake
max@myradvocate.com

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