'Binding arbitration': Consumers find frustration
A parallel universe of justice for hire has existed in the world of consumer finance for some years now, fueled by the fine print of credit-card applications and other financial-service agreements.
The practice known as "mandatory binding arbitration" was created by a lawsuit-weary corporate America to bypass the costly courtroom. It diverts unhappy customers into a process in which they settle their disputes through an arbitrator paid for, and often chosen by, the company they're at odds with.
But mandatory arbitration is now under fire, as evidence mounts that it favors corporate interests and leaves many consumers out in the cold.
Critics argue that it's wrong to force people to give up their right to sue as a pre-condition for buying a product or service — before they even know what the dispute might involve. Consumers must agree to the company's terms or forget about getting that credit card, cell phone, car loan, bank account, brokerage fund, insurance policy or — in some cases — even medical care.
Among the reasons the practice is a hot-button issue this year:
•The Arbitration Fairness Act of 2009, which would bar companies from forcing prospective customers to waive their legal rights and submit to arbitration first, is gaining momentum in Congress. Companion bills are moving forward in both the House of Representatives and Senate.
•A big industry player, the National Arbitration Forum, stopped doing consumer debt-collection arbitration in July after Minnesota authorities accused it of deceptive business practices and serving as a pawn for debt-collection companies. The NAF ruled for companies in 94 percent of its cases during a four-year period, according to a 2007 study by Public Citizen, a Washington, D.C.-based consumer-advocacy group.
Beware Some Pre-paid Debit Card Gouging Schemes
A cottage industry only 10 years ago, reloadable prepaid cards have tapped into the vast pool of about 80 million consumers who have little or no access to bank accounts. The market includes college students who do not want to carry around wads of cash and others.
Because it is a relatively new industry, prepaid cards have not undergone the Congressional and regulatory scrutiny of credit and debit cards. In the spring, lawmakers restricted interest rate increases and hidden fees on credit cards, and regulators are now examining stricter rules on overdraft fees on checking accounts. Even gift cards, which expire when the money runs out, will soon be subject to new rules limiting monthly fees and expiration dates.
Congress has asked regulators to determine if prepaid cards warrant the same protections extended to debit and credit cards. The industry’s trade association says such measures are unnecessary and would make cards more expensive.
But consumer advocates say the lack of regulation means that prepaid card users can continue to be blindsided by hidden fees, and have few legal protections to recover their money if a card is lost. More at: http://www.gainesville.com/article/20091006/znyt01/910063020&tc=yahoo
Ever wonder just how astronomical our national debt is getting or what to do about it? Check this group’s site for useful insights.
Find a job via partying. Social events (networking) can prove helpful. Try these sites to find events near you.
AARP Tax-aide is training volunteers for next year’s tax season (you don’t have to be a tax preparer; they need greeters and technology coordinators too).
www.aarp.org/taxaide or call 888-687-2277
Find a yard sale near you by simply entering your starting address and how many miles you are willing to travel and the day of your treasure hunt. It’s a free service.
Easy Ways to Perk up Someone’s Day
• Pay them a compliment
• Give them the go ahead – as in letting another driver pass you or move ahead of you in the supermarket line. It can be contagious.
• Turn off the tech – show a friend they are a priority by turning of your cell phone or computer when speaking with them.
• Perform a secret act of kindness – leave a coffee on a co-workers desk, put some change into a parking meter ready to expire, etc.
Become inspired and discover ways to spread kindness in your area by visiting:
“Let the people think they govern & they will be governed.”
If you’ve lived in the United States for any length of time, you’ve probably come to the realization our election system offers little choice,that both parties have created laws which make it virtually impossible for 3rd party candidates to get on a ballot or to raise the insane amounts of money candidates now spend on elections.
Democracy is a fine form of government so long as the people don’t participate in the process. Leave that to the corporations who buy and sell politicians and leave us with the illusion of a democratic ideal.
Rarely a week goes by where we don’t learn of some crooked elected leader. It’s unfortunate, but too many of them are liars and cheats and are bought and sold by Wall Street. According the Bureau of National Affairs, corporate crime is 20 times greater than all of the larceny committed by individuals and they are rarely prosecuted thanks to their political influence…most get a slap on the wrist. After all, ‘free enterprise’ is the state religion.
Freedom in America, like our justice system, works best for those who can afford it. It seems the goal is to keep the average American broke; mere serfs. Few will argue that our government (mostly owned by Wall Street) has become the master instead of the servant.
A New-Old Way to Restore Democracy
I believe George Bush spent over $200 million during his last re-election effort. That is wrong. Politicians spend more time and effort on securing funding for their next election run than they do on the people’s business. That is wrong.
Plato argued that representatives should be selected at random from the entire population, that from a fund of qualified voters we simply draft our representatives who would be required by law to serve. That would draw equally from rich and poor, women and minorities as well. We essentially draw our juries in this fashion. Of course, these folks would be paid for their time serving and their jobs would be held secure. And, I would limit their term to no more than two – regardless of state or national service.
From this group we would form a committee who would in turn, select candidates for president. Such leaders would have a far greater potential to have values consistent with themselves – they would be more likely to put people ahead of profit.
Some might argue that we’d be electing non-qualified individuals to our highest office. I contend we’ve been doing that for decades. This is a much more democratic system than what we currently use.
I’ve added a We The People petition to the website which urges term limits.I’m also working on a new ebook which will show people how to regain their freedom; probably ready within a month. Check it out and feel free to forward it to your politicians and friends.
Good Ideas Don’t Always Make for Good Laws
While writing this week’s bulletin I was listening to a call-in radio show on Canadian radio, CKLW. The topic revolved around the Provincial government’s ban on smoking in commercial trucks, usually operated by one person. The fine is a whopping $300; more than most other infractions.
As most of the callers stated, “enough is enough with the laws already and the fines…it’s simply another money grab by the government.”
I couldn’t agree more. It seems our governments have the philosophy that make enough laws and you create more lawbreakers, so courts can become another taxing authority.
The US has more laws on the books than any other nation and more people in jail than any other nation; few can keep up with the amount of laws created at the state and national level anymore!
Most laws are passed without a vote and it’s an expensive and time consuming proposition to band together to shoot down these laws…but it sure is time people began exercising their civil discontent just as they have in the past for other stupid laws (civil rights laws for instance). The power is supposed to be with the people.
Each week the average person breaks 21 laws. Each time a so-called crisis is declared by the government, (drug laws come to mind) more laws are passed; usually abrogating our civil rights under the guise of “it’s for the greater good.” Personally, I fear the government more than I do drug dealers.
As more behavior becomes criminalized, the greater the erosion of due process becomes. Our government loves to ‘declare war’ on all kinds of things, but I feel they’ve declared war on citizens rights. That’s my opinion, what’s yours?
Yours for better living,
Bruce “The Poor Man”