- Robert Weed
Why You Should (Sometimes) Ask for Arbitration
Why You Should (Sometimes) Before Bankruptcy Ask for Arbitration
The fine print in your credit card agreement likely gives you–and the credit card company–the right to ask for arbitration. You can guess that the fine print isn’t in there to help the consumer, but sometimes before bankruptcy you can use arbitration for your benefit.
How Can Arbitration Before Bankruptcy Help You?
Suppose you might need a little more time before you are ready to file bankruptcy. If there’s a warrant-in-debt, and you obviously do NOT want to get garnished. You can ask for a trial and a bill of particulars. Then, for your grounds of defense, you can ask for arbitration. Asking for arbitration can get you another month or more to get ready to file bankruptcy.
Stalling for time is not the idea of arbitration. But since the credit card companies put it in their agreement for their reasons, you have the right to use arbitration before bankruptcy for your reasons.
What should be the Purpose of Arbitration?
The idea of arbitration to to handle things that judges aren’t good at. For example, baseball salaries.
Baseball players through their union and the owners have agreed to salary arbitration
Baseball players, through their union, have salary arbitration. If there’s a pay dispute between the player and the club, a panel of arbitrators decide what the salary should be. There’s no reason for judges to be involved, that’s now what judges do.
A second advantage to both the club, and the players, is that the process is secret. Suppose a baseball club says, “we don’t want to pay what Joe is asking, because he can’t hit the low fastball.” It’s bad enough that the player hears his club bad-mouthing him. It would be even worse to read it in the sports page.
Is Credit Card Arbitration is Anything Like Baseball Arbitration?
The good reasons why arbitration makes sense for baseball salaries does NOT apply to credit card arbitration. If you get sued on a credit card, that’s the kind of thing judges decide all day long. Do you owe the debt? Who do you owe it to? Have they done something wrong trying to collect it? Deciding these things is what judges do.
So why do the credit card companies put arbitration in their fine print agreements? As long as consumers don’t fight back, the credit card companies like judges. But suppose there’s a problem. Suppose the credit card company–or debt collector–has done something dirty. Then they want to keep it secret.
They put arbitration in their agreements, so they can take your case to a secret place, if they want to. In arbitration, you lose the right to appeal. You have fewer rights to get evidence. And you can’t join with other consumers who have been done dirty in a class action. That’s why the credit card companies are arbitration in their fine print agreements.
Why is Credit Card Arbitration Allowed?
If you had me on the Supreme Court, I’d allow arbitration for baseball players. Because it’s in the union contract. I wouldn’t allow arbitration on credit cards, because you have a constitutional right to a trial by jury. That’s the Seventh Amendment, which gives American the right to a trial by jury in disputes of over $10.00. The actual Supreme Court has said that doesn’t apply to you. Because when you used the credit card, you agreed to the arbitration.
Government can’t take away your constitutional rights, based on some fine print you never even read. But big companies apparently can.