Fleet Tries To Pull A Fast One
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I got a note from the swell folks at Fleet, my credit card company. Actually, not a note, but a Notice:
"This Notice is to advise you that the following Arbitration Provision will be added to your Cardholder Agreement," it cheerfully began. Hmmm, I thought, arbitration. What needs arbitrating? So I squinted at the tiny print they used in this little four-page notice, which had no eye-catching graphics, no whimsical colors, and none of the chatty style you find in other bill stuffers that the companies really want you to ... well, notice. Indeed, it's as though Fleet didn't truly want me to notice this Notice.
But, I thought, don't be cynical, so I plunged into the prose: "This Arbitration Provision will apply to all claims." Claims? Like what? Down in the fine print Fleet told me. Sort of: "The term 'claim' means any claim, dispute, or controversy between you and us arising from or related to this agreement, any prior agreement that you may have had with us or another credit card issuer from whom we acquired your credit card account or the relationships resulting from the agreement of any prior agreement, including ..." yada, yada, yada.
Whoa, I said aloud, trying to uncross my eyes, what's the bottom line here? Then I found it. Fleet's Notice practically shouted that if I filed any kind of claim against it for fraud, false advertising, invasion of privacy, or whatever it could deny me "the right to litigate that claim in court or have a jury trial on that claim." Instead, I'd have to go to an arbitration firm of Fleet's choosing, and "The arbitrator's decision will be final," even though "rights that you would have had if you went to court may ... not be available in arbitration" and "the fees charged by the administration may be higher than the fees charged by a court."
To help stop corporate sneak attacks on our Constitutional right to a trial by jury, call Trial Lawyers for Public Justice 202-797-8600.