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Appeals Court Slaps Down AT&T Arbitration Mouseprint
Fine print eliminating consumer rights deemed 'unconscionable'
by Karl Bode 06:32PM Monday Aug 20 2007
The Consumerist notes that the 9th Circuit Court Of Appeals has ruled that AT&T cannot include mouse-print in their wireless service contracts that eliminates your right to partake in a class action lawsuit against the company for say -- sucky EDGE performance.

The contract language instead forces users to go through out of court "mandatory binding arbitration", a process usually handled by a company paid by AT&T who may, or may not have your best interests in mind. The court has now ruled that clause "unconscionable."

Comcast recently changed their TOS to force this same restriction on its cable and broadband users. Though they did quietly allow users to opt out of the restriction at this URL, they were only allowed a thirty-day window to do so.

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exocet_cm
Free at last, free at last
Premium
join:2003-03-23
New Orleans, LA
kudos:3

Listen Up ComCrap

Your next!

en102
Canadian, eh?

join:2001-01-26
Valencia, CA

1 edit

Re: Listen Up Health Care / Kaiser Permanente

The medical industry should watch.

Kaiser Permanente has a similar clause in their HMO Insurance.
--
Canada = Hollywood North
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3

Re: Listen Up ComCrap

said by exocet_cm:

Your next!
Like ComCAST invented the arbitration clause.

It would be a painful task to try to find business of any size that doesn't have the arbitration clause. Anyone that has a credit card should know that...
--
"Complaining is the least path of resistance for the self-serving, the lazy, and I’m told it’s a woman’s prerogative..."
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO

1 recommendation

TOS's Blow

This is another reason why a TOS should not be allowed to change during a term.

rds24a
Teach Your Children
Premium
join:2000-12-13
Newton Upper Falls, MA
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

I hope there is a point where this all ends

In a perfect world, there will be a point in the near future where some regulation is put into place that bans terms of service that are not readable by the average person in the time allotted. No more 4-foot-long receipts from Best Buy. No more 100-page booklets in your Time Warner bill. No more abuse of the consumer because just about everthing is a monopoly with more monetary and political power than the government. No mor eshjfdalkjhf xmmn

Oh, crap, sorry. I fell asleep. Must have been dreaming.
--
All hail JoePa
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3

1 edit

Re: I hope there is a point where this all ends

So then what you are saying is that anytime you buy something from a company that provides you something, it should just be anything goes? no contracts? and what's the "time allotted?"

Like it or not, the contracts are written in the very same legal terms that EVERY citizen lives under. The fact that people don't want to take the time to read what they are getting into with an entity in a business relationship is no reason to toss out contracts or terms of service. The TOS, like them or not, are not going away, and they are not going to be dumbed down so that people can be lazy. Plain English is vague and isn't very easy to hold up in court because of interpretation. When a problem occurs, the contract or terms are based on law that a court, where the problem would wind up, is going to sort out.

I'm sorry to say that I do not agree with you in the least that things should be in plain English or that there should be no long books that make up agreements. I refuse to dumb down America for those that are too lazy. It will cause nothing but problems.. not to mention, the last time I read a comcast TOS agreement, it IS written in plain English. Further, people cry all the time that "they didn't know" this or that... well? That's why there are TOS agreements.. only no one cares to read them until its too late.

I DO, however, no agree with arbitration clauses.. (only other than to the reason TCH stated below about opportunistic law firms) I have NEVER EVER agreed with the signing/agreeing away of your rights of a citizen of the United States to not be able to file a complaint against another person or entity when they have done wrong. This nation was founded on law and order and to allow arbitration... that's un-American.

But TOS agreements can stay.
--
"Complaining is the least path of resistance for the self-serving, the lazy, and I’m told it’s a woman’s prerogative..."
bi0tech

join:2003-06-19
Cockeysville, MD

1 recommendation

Re: I hope there is a point where this all ends

Like it or not, the contracts are written in the very same legal terms that EVERY citizen lives under. The fact that people don't want to take the time to read what they are getting into with an entity in a business relationship is no reason to toss out contracts or terms of service. The TOS, like them or not, are not going away, and they are not going to be dumbed down so that people can be lazy. Plain English is vague and isn't very easy to hold up in court because of interpretation. When a problem occurs, the contract or terms are based on law that a court, where the problem would wind up, is going to sort out.
You say that like the current system is actually working well or has some kind of intrinsic property that makes it the only way to achieve a balance. Neither are true. The assumption that plain english must be deficient in terms of legal structure, or even that the statements that must be understood and agreed to on simple transactions is just ludicrous. You cannot assume within the realm of sanity that every individual is both educated within the terms of legal jargon and is up to date on local/state/federal law that such a contract would be interpreted under. We are talking about contract terms that fall within the monetary bounds of small claims here. Unnecessarily complicated requirements for transactions that are largely a requirement of daily life for 90%+ of the populous only creates more fodder for the legal system to grow into a large and more sycophantic monster than it already is.

This type of attitude will see us all toting lawyers around on daily errands. Not to mention is it damn near unilaterally in favor of supporting corporations with large budgets continually looking for way to suppress and chip away at the basics of functional social contracts. It is extremely basic that both parties of a contract are able to view and understand the terms to which they have agreed. Without that understanding, or often referred to as 'meeting of the minds' there is not basis for a contract.

The nation may have been founded on law and order but it has very little to do with it's current situation. Anyone without the ways and means to support an extended court case has lost before it was begun regardless of the facts at hand. Reinforce corporate strangleholds if you like, I prefer to remember that America is a nation founded on recognizing the rights of all individuals, or at least it used to be.
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3

Re: I hope there is a point where this all ends

Socialist are you?

The nation is founded on law. Contracts are part of law. If you don't like what you are about to get into... DON'T.

"I prefer to remember that America is a nation founded on recognizing the rights of all individuals, or at least it used to be."

That always sounds good in fairy tales and stories, but if you think this nation was ever about the right of individuals, you're really mistaken. But, to take what you are saying and go with that, the law DOES give everyone the same rights to the same laws.

I fail to see your logic.

Plain and simple, you don't like what companies are doing - guess what? You have the same right to make change... just most likely, as just about everyone is, too lazy to or uninterested to do so. Writing a message on a site like this isn't doing anything.

You speak of balance yet you have no concept of what it is. The balance on your side is your choice, your money, and your option to enforce and change laws. Choose to do nothing and accept what you get. YOU make the choice to do business with a company that says arbitration, YOU make the choice to continue that relationship and make up every excuse as to why you have no choice and how they are forcing you.

While what you say SOUNDS good, it holds no merit what so ever. It's a cop out.
--
"Complaining is the least path of resistance for the self-serving, the lazy, and I’m told it’s a woman’s prerogative..."

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK

Re: I hope there is a point where this all ends

Contracts are contracts... but false advertising, lying sales reps, or misrepresented or wrongly stated features and options are commonplace. Misleading people shouldn't be ok just because there was a legalese "Gotcha" in small print somewhere.

Clear, honest, ethical business would eliminate 99.9% of these problems and issues.
--
"Regulatory capitalism is when companies invest in lawyers, lobbyists, and politicians, instead of plant, people, and customer service." - former FCC Chairman William Kennard (A real FCC Chairman, unlike the current Corporate Spokesperson in the job!)
bi0tech

join:2003-06-19
Cockeysville, MD
Socialist no.

You seem to be completely ignorant of the fact that many of these situations people are dealing with companies where they have little or no choice, otherwise they would choose another company to deal with if any of them didn't employ the exact same tactics. Which by the way you may need a paralegal just to see the entire scope of if you had the choice. You seem to continually reiterate ignorance as some form of stupidity or sloth but there is no logical equation. It remains that it is common business practice for the rights on the individual/consumer to be bent, broken, and undermined on a daily basis through the use of dubiously enforceable legal wordings in 'fine print' situations. To infer that practice is correct or innate to business in some way is the real fairy tale.

but if you think this nation was ever about the right of individuals, you're really mistaken
Let me guess, you are one of those people that refer to the constitution as an outdated piece of paper?

Balance? You have the choice to deal with a company or not, I grant you. However you have a choice to eat or not also, I think most people would choose to. You completely ignore that regardless of the capitalist propaganda, not everything is really a free market. Many people have only the choice to have nothing or to deal with the companies employing such practices. To say that it is somehow their deficiency for not somehow creating competition out of thin air is purely delusional. You are just putting the onus of legally enforceable business terms on the consumer, when they are in this position because they had no choice in their creation to begin with. So there is no legal responsiblity of gov't, no responsibility or punitive enforcement for corporations, all because the consumer is just a lazy sob.

You may want to get that peg leg shortened, you are leaning a bit too far to the right there. =)
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
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kudos:3

Re: I hope there is a point where this all ends

Oh geez... if you ever read my posts, I've never hid the fact that I am neither right nor left... ok? So forget that.

HOWEVER, back to my rebut..

What you say sounds good.. however, it's not the way the world really is. You lost me right away with you say that people have little of no choice.. that does not give ANY credit to why you feel contracts should be written in looser terms. Again, read the comcast TOS.. tell me where you see anything that is less than real english wording. If you can't understand that TOS, then there is no hope. I've read my Sprint Nextel contract.. hell, I read them ALL! and guess what.. BEFORE I sign up or accept them! Fancy that...

.. Show me the contract that has the legal wording in fine print an then lets talk. This just shows me that you haven't read any of these "legal mumbo jumbo" contracts... maybe you should start reading the contract terms and stop complaining about them as much and you'd realize how far off you are right now.

The legal system we all live in doesn't see a single person any different from a company. The law is the law and we all live in the same world. If you don't understand the contract, don't take the service with out a lawyer reading it first. Don't want to do that? That's your choice and your loss.

There is nothing you can tell me that will change my mind on this. I am tired of the dumbing down of American for the lazy who want to be victims.

I don't think the system is always fair.. but the law is still the law.

And yes.. ignorance IS stupidity... at least as the uppers here define it. I've called people ignorant, however, those posts get pulled every time. If the mods here only knew what the word IGNORANT meant, they'd feel like idiots. To be ignorant is to over look, not pay attention.. with out.. ignorant of the facts... not knowing. Ignorant doesn't mean stupid.. but again, like I said, around here, people believe it does.
--
"Complaining is the least path of resistance for the self-serving, the lazy, and I’m told it’s a woman’s prerogative..."

funchords
Hello
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-11
Yarmouth Port, MA
kudos:6
said by fiberguy:

I DO, however, [not?] agree with arbitration clauses.. (only other than to the reason TCH stated below about opportunistic law firms) I have NEVER EVER agreed with the signing/agreeing away of your rights of a citizen of the United States to not be able to file a complaint against another person or entity when they have done wrong. This nation was founded on law and order and to allow arbitration... that's un-American.
Does this mean you don't sign them? How can you avoid them, as ubiquitous as they are.

I sign them (or tacitly agree to them via my continued use of XYZ service). Believe me, I hate them, but I usually opt to sign up for the service anyway.

I -heart- the 9th Circuit Court -- a big win for the consumer!
--
Robb Topolski -= funchords.com =- Hillsboro, Oregon USA
Are you affected by Comcast's RST forging? How to test it! -or- Read my original report.
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3

Re: I hope there is a point where this all ends

How can you avoid them? SIMPLE! (let me say this slowly)..

DON'T
DO
BUSINESS
WITH
THEM!

This next line is more for comic value than anything, but it's somewhat true... the Amish seem to get along in this world just fine.

The 9th district court's opinion is nice for the fact that it does set things in a better direction, or so it may seem. However, wait for the landslide of lawyer hungry class actions over "I don't like how they won't answer my calls in 5 minutes or less" suits.

I do NOT agree with legislating from the bench. (Ick, I know, it's a republican talking point, but it does have some proper uses)... Writing a line that says you agree to arbitration, as crappy as it is, is still something you agree to like it or not. If there is a problem with something an industry or company is doing, then congress is the body that should be changing it.. not the courts. If the law was broken, then fine. BUT, is there a law that states that two parties can't agree to terms? Is there a law that says arbitration is against the law?

Again... a good victory for THOSE IN THE 9TH district. Can't wait to see the next round of stories to hit the press about what is next to come.
--
"Complaining is the least path of resistance for the self-serving, the lazy, and I’m told it’s a woman’s prerogative..."
jc100

join:2002-04-10
We only have ourselves to blame for the legal disclaimers longer than your average book. If it weren't for idiots using hairdryers in the bathtub or suing for millions on spilled coffee, we wouldn't be inundated with this crap. Yet, thanks to your village idiots, companies have long legal mumbo jumbo to protect themselves. While I disagree with this clause of arbitration, I can at least see where they are coming from. They want to avoid a disasterous lawsuit, which in the end, gets offset by its members. It's a catch 22 in the real sense. Even though I think their intentions are good (for the most part), no company should be immune from bad conduct. Hence, this is where you draw the fine line between protecting the consumer and not screwing the company. That is where it gets tricky, and I think a more acceptable balance must be found, than some forced arbitration. Some suggestions might include a nonbinding mediator to help resolve disputes, in order to prevent them from turning "legal". One other idea might be to treat customers better. Whatever the choice, this decision to force arbitration is definitely overzealous. I applaud the courts for recognizing this fact.

FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

1 recommendation

Arbitration clauses a result of shark class action lawyers

While all contract terms should be readable and not in obscure legalese, the mandatory arbitration clauses came about because of those opportunistic law firms that tended to file class action lawsuits at the drop of a hat and frequently without any reason other than greed. The costs of defending these suits became prohibitive and weren't in anyone's interest but the suing law firms. The so-called winners in a class action suit were NEVER those on whose behalf the suits were filed.
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Stumbles

join:2002-12-17
Port Saint Lucie, FL

Re: Arbitration clauses a result of shark class action lawyers

Then the courts should have been slapping the opportunistic lawyers instead of giving companies a new kind of power. T

Though you are right in that the only real winners in a class action lawsuit are the participating lawyers.

pnh102
Reptiles Are Cuddly And Pretty
Premium
join:2002-05-02
Mount Airy, MD

Re: Arbitration clauses a result of shark class action lawyers

said by Stumbles:

Then the courts should have been slapping the opportunistic lawyers instead of giving companies a new kind of power.
Why? Such an action would reduce the need for more judges.
--
Only SHATNER is Kirk.

vpoko
Premium
join:2003-07-03
Boston, MA

Re: Arbitration clauses a result of shark class action lawyers

And why would more judges be in the interest of existing judges?

N3OGH
Yo Soy Col. "Bat" Guano
Premium
join:2003-11-11
Philly burbs
kudos:2

Re: Arbitration clauses a result of shark class action lawyers

Because all judges above the district justice / justice of the peace level must be lawyers.

More lawyers in positions of power (judges) the more power lawyers have.

More judges means more power for the judges in power all ready...
--
Petty people are disproportionably corrupted by petty power…

JTRockville
Data Ho
Premium,MVM
join:2002-01-28
Rockville, MD
I can't speak to ATT's reasoning, but I've been following news about Comcast for a few years now, and I'm not aware of even one class-action mighty enough that could cause Comcast to amend their terms. Can you cite any?
hottboiinnc
ME

join:2003-10-15
Cleveland, OH

Old News

This was covered on other news sites several months ago.

Rob
In Deo speramus.
Premium
join:2001-08-25
Kendall, FL
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: Old News

said by hottboiinnc:

This was covered on other news sites several months ago.
What AT&T did may have been covered on other new sites several months ago, but the ruling was filed August 17, 2007. Far from being "old news".
hottboiinnc
ME

join:2003-10-15
Cleveland, OH

Re: Old News

The ruling was announced long ago making it old news. Just because it was actually filed today on record doesnt mean it was just announced today.

Rob
In Deo speramus.
Premium
join:2001-08-25
Kendall, FL
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Comcast

1 edit

1 recommendation

Re: Old News

said by hottboiinnc:

The ruling was announced long ago making it old news. Just because it was actually filed today on record doesnt mean it was just announced today.
Sure. But it was filed 8/17, making it news. Tada.
hottboiinnc
ME

join:2003-10-15
Cleveland, OH

Re: Old News

w/e DSLReports reports news only when they think it is. CNN and Washington Post had this when it was first ruled.

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK

Re: Old News

said by hottboiinnc:

CNN and Washington Post had this when it was first ruled.
And I see interesting articles and "News" on here which never make it on CNN and into the Washington Post. So?
ossito16

join:2004-07-31
Whiting, IN

When is it going to stop

This is why Castro kicked these idiots out of Cuba. He asked them to play fair and not exploit the people or resources. They chose not to agree so bye bye. I think the govt should temp suspend them from any fcc auctions.

ropeguru
Premium
join:2001-01-25
Mechanicsville, VA

2 recommendations

Re: When is it going to stop

said by ossito16:

This is why Castro kicked these idiots out of Cuba. He asked them to play fair and not exploit the people or resources. They chose not to agree so bye bye. I think the govt should temp suspend them from any fcc auctions.
You really believe that crap??? Castro kicked them out because he wants full control of everything in his country. Just like what Chavez is attempting to do with his country now.
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moonpuppy

join:2000-08-21
Glen Burnie, MD

1 recommendation

said by ossito16:

This is why Castro kicked these idiots out of Cuba. He asked them to play fair and not exploit the people or resources. They chose not to agree so bye bye. I think the govt should temp suspend them from any fcc auctions.
You can't be serious. Castro does more to exploit his own people than any corporation could dream of.
ossito16

join:2004-07-31
Whiting, IN
Come on, I know you guys don't believe the propaganda that has been spread since the 60's. Corporations get nationalized because they get carried away. Cuba became a tug-of-war piece between our country and the former Soviet Union. Castro did what he had to do when US companies in Cuba refused to do anything that would help the people. i.e. U.S.-owned refineries in Cuba refused to process the oil the Soviets imported to Cuba, US cut sugar imports. i do believe he went to far with his reforms much like Chavez is doing now, but the motive was clear and needed to be done. Find yourselves a book called "Bitter Fruit: American Coup in Guatemala" and you will then understand the "true" exploitation at the hands of US companies backed by our government. Just makes sure you recognize an important famliy name in all this, John & Allen Dulles, and how they tie to the United fruit company.

ropeguru
Premium
join:2001-01-25
Mechanicsville, VA

Re: When is it going to stop

Ok, so how long did you live in Cuba? Are you from Cuba? My wife's family came from Cuba just after Castro took over and they still have family there. So I think I have more than "60's propaganda" to go off of...
--
FWD#: 223611
ossito16

join:2004-07-31
Whiting, IN

Re: When is it going to stop

You might have more than propagande but you also might have a little bias since most of the Cuban nationals had there land stolen from them by Castro. It that situation, I believe Castor went over the line. As far as the people go, he never followed through on promises of reform and restoring the constitution. He became just as bad as the corporations he expelled from Cuba.

“Cruel leaders are replaced only to have new leaders turn cruel!” -- Che Guevara

No to ESPN

@comcast.net

COMCAST TOS

I got the COMCAST TOS in my last bill. I wrote on my check to them that I did not accept the language of their TOS with some addtional legal stuff. It would be interesting to see if they cashed my check and accepted my language. Am waiting on a copy of the cleared check to arrive in the monthly bank statement. Stay tuned.

•••••

Alakar
Facts do not cease to exist when ignored

join:2001-03-23
Milwaukee, WI

Wider Impac t

I wonder what the total impact of this will be. I know credit card companies, cell phone, and others use mouse-print disclaimers like this.

Jim Gurd
Premium
join:2000-07-08
Livonia, MI

9th circus

This is the most overturned court in the country. Arbitration is both legal and standard practice. I believe this ruling will be overturned by the Supreme Court.
Methadras

join:2004-05-26
Spring Valley, CA

the answer is simple...

how about the removal of fine print or mouse print from every contract... that way no one can ever say they couldn't read it or didn't see it... the whole notion of fine print is stupid and should never have been adopted as a legitimate contractual practice...

Yogibear227

@spcsdns.net

Forbidding the Class Action Lawsuit in the Telecom contract

Sprint has this same leagalise listing in their software for anyone that choses to use their EVDO REV A product. It prohobits the consumer from initiating a class action. But allows Sprint to change the terms of the "signed contract " without due cause.

What a crappy deal. All of these telecoms need to ABANDONED this tactic... Are the afraid they are going to deliver crap service in the 2 year agreement that you have just signed with them? Sounds like it.