Have you ever spent an hour working your way through your cell phone company’s customer service call center to try to reverse a bogus $5 charge and then wondered whether it was worth it? Of course it’s not worth it, that’s why companies make so many bogus charges – because they know lots of people won’t notice or won’t have the wherewithal to challenge the charge. And to make doubly sure they get to keep their ill-gotten gains, most consumer companies require us all to “agree” to arbitrate any claims we have individually, meaning we can’t join together with other consumers and bring a class action. This tactic virtually ensures that the company will come out ahead in the long run giving it every incentive to routinely cheat us all out of small amounts.
One public official is trying to fight back against this onerous practice. Richard Cordray is the former Ohio Attorney General and now the head of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (an office the President and Republicans are trying to abolish). Mr. Cordray is pressing forward with rules to eliminate forced arbitration and class action waivers in the financial industry, and he is out with an op ed in today’s New York Times that makes a compelling case for his position (Read about it here). It is well worth your time and attention.
This issue may not be a hot button political issue, but it really affects us all where it really matters most – in our wallets!