In a new study analyzing the pernicious effects of arbitration clauses in consumer contracts, Professor Jean Sternlight concludes that the Supreme Court’s decision in ATT v. Concepcion has effectively immunized corporations from being held accountable for fraud, discrimination, antitrust violations and other harms perpetrated on consumers. The article offers a detailed analysis of how arbitration clauses suppress consumer claims and leave consumers with no meaningful access to justice.

Professor Sternlight also notes how organizations like Consumers Count can play a role in ending the use of arbitration clauses in consumer contracts. As Professor Sternlight states: 

“The website and Facebook page for Consumers Count invite consumers to complain about unfair company practices.The site states that once a “critical mass” of consumers have complained about the same practice, Consumers Count will “spring into action” and refer the complaints to a law firm which can then enter into fee agreements with the multiple consumers and attempt to pursue their claims whether in court, in arbitration, through referral to a government agency, or in the press.The idea of programs such as Consumers Count is intriguing. . . 

In one way the idea of consumers joining together to file individual claims may even be highly intimidating to companies. When consumers file small claims, companies’ own clauses or arbitration provider rules often require the company rather than the consumer to pay the bulk of administration costs and arbitrator fees.Although these fees and costs may be low per individual claim, they can become quite high when many claims are brought. If the arbitration filing fees and costs were just $1000 (a quite low estimate) and ten thousand consumers were to file individual claims against the company, the company would have to pay ten million dollars in filing fees and administrative costs alone.”

Corporations seek to suppress your rights. As Professor Sternlight highlights, we can turn their efforts against them if you make yourself a consumer who counts.