Cablevision Latest to Put Mandatory Arbitration in Fine Print
AT&T Supreme Court Victory Leads to Fine Print Parade
by Karl Bode 12:39PM Thursday Sep 29 2011 Tipped by livings
AT&T long tried to use fine print to try and ban their customers from suing them via class action, instead forcing users into binding arbitration where corporations win more often than not
. Despite the fact that many lower courts declared such activity violated user rights and was "unconscionable," the Supreme Court earlier this year ruled in AT&T's favor
, opening the flood gates for every corporation to include this language in their TOS. Sony added such a provision recently, as did video game powerhouse Electronic Arts.
Broadband Reports has confirmed with Cablevision that their new TOS also includes this language. The cookie cutter language used by each company prohibits users from having a jury trial or participating in a class action lawsuit against a company.
While class actions certainly are a boon to attorney wallets, they've also benefited consumers in the telecom space quite often by forcing changes to company behavior, such as requiring companies pro-rate ETFs or stopping them from covertly extending long-term contracts with every plan change.
Users in our Cablevision forum
alerted us to the fact that the company is informing users of the changes with their monthly bills. We've confirmed with Cablevision that the bill notification process started this month, and that the company's policies (found here
) will be updated online later this week. On the positive side, users have thirty days to opt out of this arbitration clause with a simple e-mail to NOARBITRATION@CABLEVISION.COM.
"The good news is I still have my right to cancel service at any time," opines one forum user. "They didn't take that away." While true, limited competition -- and the fact that every ISP will include this language soon -- makes that a bit of a moot point. Letting these companies know you're paying attention by opting out of these agreements makes better sense if you have few broadband alternatives.
Re: me thinks..
said by Badonkadonk:Well, afterall... Rebok learned the hard way that you can't take take Cartman's big fat ass and slim it down with sneakers-- even if they come with free liposuction.
But see, now those horrible bad evil lawyers won't leave out all the poor wee class participants and get all the settlement money. Win win for everyone, right?
Funnies aside.. claims and terminology within telecom such as unlimited, upto, network management, throttling,and QOS gaurantees will have to include defined provisions which are understandable by the consumer PRIOR to plunking down money. If more people actually understood the way AT&T and Verizon [wireless] in particular are managing their networks they might not consider the prices they are charging such a great value..
Re: Wonder how much...
said by old_wiz_60: The arbitrations go in favor of the company more of the time than not (not 99%) because
The "arbitration" companies find in favor of the cablecos 99% of the time, and well they should since they are paid by the cablecos.
A}consumers fail to answer the complaint in the proscribed format OR
B} The consumer has no legitimate complaint (i.e. arbatrator has no legal standing in the matter the consumer complains about
C} The company lawyers read each complaint an settle if there is a reasonable chance the consumer is correct.
all of these mean few viable complaints reach the arbitrarters hands.
I'm not saying forced arbitration is right, nor should the "opt out now or we'll get you later" be allowed to stand.
But made up/pumped up stats/"FACTS" about the great evil corporate inquistion really don't further pro consumer aurguments.
| |M A R SPremium
Re: Wonder how much...
said by Middleofknow :Make a connection please?
Do any of the SCOTUS judges care about us ordinary citizens?
Of course not!
That went out the window in Roe v Wade
Santa Monica, CA
·Time Warner Cable
| |said by old_wiz_60:Oh please. A 5-4 decision is "blatant", in favor of business?
the cablecos and the others paid under the table to the SCOTUS to get the ruling in their favor? Tens of thousands? Secret deals? It never ceases to amaze me how blatant the SCOTUS has become in favor of businesses. First they are allowed to spend unlimited amounts for "campaign contibutions" that allow them to own congressmen, then "mandatory arbitration". Do any of the SCOTUS judges care about us ordinary citizens?
Karl had to dig deep to defend class actions - pro-rated ETFs and non-extension clauses was all he could produce - for over two decades of such cases. Class actions benefit lawyers and the firms they sue, not the consumers. Good riddance.
As for your desire to suppress Free Speech, sorry, but the Constitution is rather clear on the subject. Just as we can't muzzle the California Nurses' Association, ACORN, the SEIU or George Soros, you can't seek to silence employers, business owners, or people of faith.
My Congressman has held a death-grip on his seat for 36 years. I would like nothing better than to see him have to run on a fixed campaign budget, handicapped by the number of years in office, so challengers would have an "equal" footing. But that would violate his right to free speech, along with the group-think masses that routinely re-elect him.
Best defense against offensive companies is often secrecy I actually thought removing the courts from the marketplace would be found illegal, but since the Supreme Court has found it to be legal, we must instead look at this seriously.
Since now the marketplace is not a legally accountable place, we must take other forms of defense.
The primary defense is to avoid allowing them access to our money. Hide our money from them. I recommend never using checking accounts, credit cards, etc. with such companies, unless such accounts/cards are of limited impact to our lives if such should be compromised. For instance, never pay a bill with anything but a gift card with limited balance, cash, or cashier's check/money order, and never reveal any account numbers or card numbers of accounts that would damage us if they were compromised to entities. The final piece of the puzzle goes without saying, but just to be sure, I'll say it: for any entity that refuses to do business with us without us revealing vulnerable assets, we must refuse to do business with them.
After all, life without every possible company is possible; I live a life almost completely free of AT&T, although I admit my boss still makes use of them so my life isn't 100% free of them. When Netflix took my money without notice, I stopped using them and the bank that conspired with them. Living without Netflix is entirely possible.
Never give them power over you, and you won't need to worry about arbitration. Give them power over you, and you're screwed. Don't do it. Never give the spammers/scammers/corporations anything that you would miss.
| |Mr Matt
The difference between big business and you and I. I was involved in negotiating a 24 month contract for a burstable OC3, for broadband access for my employer an ISP. The cost for the service was $9,450.00 per month or $226,840.00 over the term of the contract.
Since there were big bucks involved our parent company which had several Attorneys on their payroll was allowed to review and modify the contracts Terms and Conditions with the approval of the service provider. Our attorneys deleted the paragraph that gave the service provider the right to change the terms of the contract at any time and the service provider signed off on that change.
It was my responsibility to review and approve payment of all invoices for communication services from our service providers. Several months after the service was installed an item was added to the invoice from that service provider for $945.00 per month listed as the RTRF.
The broadband service providers Customer Service Representative identified that new charge as the Real Estate Tax Recovery Fee. When I pointed out to the CSR that there was no provision for an RTRF in the contract I was told that under the terms of the contract they could make changes without our approval. I sent a memorandum regarding the matter to our legal department with a copy of the invoice. Shortly thereafter we had a conference call with the manager of the broadband service providers accounts receivable department and one of their staff attorneys. After one of our lawyers advised the Accounts Payable Manager and their lawyer that they were in breach of contract they removed the charge.
At about the same time my wireless provider AT&T added a crap charge of about $3.50 per month to my bill. When I protested I was advised that if I was not satisfied I could go somewhere else for wireless service but would have to pay a ETF because I was still under contract and did not respond fast enough to cancel my service.
Remember that Declaration of Independence declared that all men are created equal. Apparently the US SCROTUM has declared that large corporations are more equal then ordinary citizens. Because of their wealth they can demand the right to review and modify a service providers boiler plate contracts when big bucks are involved. They can afford to and do hire staff attorneys to resolve issues such as these. On the other hand how many of the persons reading this post can afford to hire a staff attorney or would be allowed to have their attorney modify a wireless service providers contract.