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So they require you to do forced arbitration, then just refuse to act on it (or act very slowly).

From a business stand point, of course they would. Most of these cases will at best require time and money to sort out, and at worse cost them even more money (compensating a driver for damages or lost wages). So why wouldn't they let these get tied up in bureaucracy until the drivers decide it's not worth the effort?

Force arbitration is bullshit and anti-consumer.






> Force arbitration is bullshit and anti-consumer.

Definitely. I love this quote further down in the article:

> Last June, for instance, I wrote about a Fitbit lawyer’s all-too-candid admission that no rational litigant would pay a $750 filing fee to arbitrate a claim over a product that costs $162 – a concession that plaintiffs' lawyers called the “ugly truth” about mandatory arbitration clauses.


>Last June, for instance, I wrote about a Fitbit lawyer’s all-too-candid admission that no rational litigant would pay a $750 filing fee to arbitrate a claim over a product that costs $162

Sometimes it's not about the money - sometimes it's about sending a message.


For Fitbit, it's about the money. They reduce their costs with this strategy, and they don't care about your message.

> For Fitbit, it's about the money. They reduce their costs with this strategy, and they don't care about your message.

I'm saying this is a dangerous line of thinking. What happens when someone does spend the money? Or finances a large group of people to exercise their rights?

(Recall the Gawker case - they threat modeled that Hulk Hogan couldn't afford to seek relief in the courts. But they pissed off someone much richer than Hogan, who was happy to help him access legal relief.)


When people do spend the money, Fitbit is in the same situation they'd be in if they hadn't added that barrier.

If I had millions to spare, I might help finance many thousands of simultaneous forced arbitration cases against some companies who engage in this forced arbitration bullshit.

If you did this to Fitbit, you'd have to spend $750 for each arbitration, plus advertising costs to find people who need arbitration. Fitbit will lose up to $162 each time you do this, plus their costs to attend the arbitration.

Let's assume their average cost is $200 and yours is $800. Are you willing to spend a million dollars to cost Fitbit $250k? This wouldn't hurt Fitbit much, and it's going to be a lot of work to find, vet, and distribute money to the 1,250 people who are willing to undergo arbitration.

Even if your plan worked, you'd just have spent a bunch of money to make Fitbit live up to some of the legal obligations it was using arbitration to avoid. This wouldn't change anything going forward.

The main benefit would be to the people who got their $162 in value. If that's your goal, you could help a lot more of those people if you just gave each of them $162 rather than spending $750 to help them go through the process.

Or you could spend your millions lobbying to change the laws so Fitbit can't require arbitration with a $750 fee.


You don't need thousands. $750 is far more than a lawyer will charge for 2-3 hours of their time. It just so happens that's more than most customers will spend on forced arbitration as well.

State courts charge filing fees. So do federal courts. Fees in both courts now approach $750. The losing party in both courts and arbitrations is taxed costs, which include the filing fee. Figure on paying $400/hour for a lawyer to handle an international arbitration with a $10k downstroke. Same for a federal practitioner. You might do slightly better in state court.

If you're trying to recover damages for a $162 purchase, wouldn't you either be in small claims court or part of a class action suit?

> sometimes it's about sending a message

Important rhetorical question (spoken kindly, despite word choice): Whose message? As in, who gets to send this message that's alluded to? It will be a certain sort of person, with a certain sort of capacity, and anyone else who wants to send a message can get f*cked. The resulting state of any system will reflect this asymmetry.

(Not implying that you were saying the above was fair, just wanted to draw out this aspect for others that the "message" line might resonate with :)


Without being able to start a class action, the message sent by a court will be pretty minimal.

I can't think of many companies that I'm happier to have trying to push mandatory arbitration clauses. A conservative well-capitalized bank or brokerage will duly pay an arbitrator that becomes accustomed to their repeat business. They will likely have their books and legal department in order enough to come up to speed with common sense once a request for arbitration has been filed, or failing that supply irrefutable (even if not necessarily correct) documentation to the arbitrator to support siding against the consumer. In other words, they'll keep up the illusion that their kangaroo court works as claimed.

But Uber, what do they actually do well ? Besides executing on that whole "startup" thing of fomenting civil disobedience, greenwashing it as "sharing", and then capturing it to install themselves as new less-accountable middlemen? This type of grossly incompetent mishandling is exactly the kind of thing we need to demonstrate how ridiculous it is to even entertain these eval(input()) clauses in "contracts".


Can’t people take them to court anyway on the argument that they violated the forced arbitration clause? They would have to prove that they there is a valid reason for them moving slowly in ALL the cases.

Yes you could probably file a civil claim for breach of contract and/or deceptive trade practices alleging the underlying contract requires arbitration and the party is refusing to participate.

It’s compounded by the facts as the litigates previously sued and Uber moved to have the class action litigation compelled to arbitration individually, wherein there were representations Uber made to the court (which now appear to be lies) and a court order of arbitration Uber also appears to be violating.

A clever enough lawyer may even circumvent any waiver of class action provision on the same legal arguments for all such litigants with similar claims.


I just bought a car and at the VERY last moment they brought up forced arbitration...

Did you balk at it? In my experience car dealers tend to both appeal to authority as a first line of defense ("It's out of my control. That fee is mandatory."), yet also will do anything they can to close a deal. I'd be curious if walking out would get it removed.

Which brand? I will be in the market for a new car soon, and avoiding that brand will speed the decision-making process.

Of all the competitive parameters this is one you think it's worth considering?

Voting with your wallet works if a majority of people understand the issue and vote the same way. Here you're just creating problems for yourself.

Not that the enthusiasm isn't good :)


Of all the competitive parameters this is one you think it's worth considering?

No, but it’s one parameter worth considering. I never stated that it was the only deciding factor.

Life is not binary.


A forced arbitration clause was included by my realtor in all the paperwork I filled out when buying a house last year. I didn't sign that page and nobody brought it up again.

So they require you to do forced arbitration, then just refuse to act on it (or act very slowly).

Move slow and break things now? I guess whatever feeds the VC's.




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