Forced arbitration is raising some serious concerns for consumers. In the arbitration process, those who have entered into the agreement must settle their disputes with a neutral intermediary in lieu of going to court. But many consumers do not know that they have agreed to such a thing after making a deal or signing a contract with a company or corporation.
Recently in 2014, 88-year-old Kenny Johnson entered into an arbitration agreement when renting a refrigerator from Rent-A-Center. After having the product serviced twice by a Rent-A-Center employee, Johnson alleges that the servicer returned a third time, wearing a Rent-A-Center uniform. Inside Johnson’s home, the man brutally beat and robbed him.
In arbitration, parties give up the right to appeal on substantive grounds in court. Because Mr. Johnson entered into an arbitration clause as result of signing Rent-A-Center’s contract for the refrigerator, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Mr. Johnson cannot file a lawsuit against Rent-A-Center to seek justice for his injuries.
Many consumers are not aware of arbitration clauses in the contracts they sign. If they are aware of them, they assume that the clause has to do with the goods or services they are purchasing, not the possibility of beatings and robbery by employees. Mr. Johnson’s case is just one example of unfair, forced arbitration that is so rampant in our country.