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Businesses The Courts

Amazon Payment Adds "No Class Action" Language To Terms of Service 147

Posted by timothy
from the you've-been-served dept.
wbr1 writes "I just received an email from Amazon Payments, the Amazon competitor to PayPal, stating among other things, that they were changing and simplifying their policies. It should be no surprise then, that similar to what PayPal and many others have already done, they have added language removing the right to class action lawsuits. See specifically section 11.3 (edited for brevity): '1.3 Disputes. Any dispute or claim relating in any way to your visit to the Site or Seller Central or to products or services sold or distributed by us or through the Site or Seller Central (including without limitation the Service) will be resolved by binding arbitration, rather than in court, except that you may assert claims in small claims court if your claims qualify. The Federal Arbitration Act and federal arbitration law apply to this agreement... ... You and we each agree that any dispute resolution proceedings will be conducted only on an individual basis and not in a class, consolidated, or representative action. If for any reason a claim proceeds in court rather than in arbitration you and we each waive any right to a jury trial. You and we also both agree that you or we may bring suit in court to enjoin infringement or other misuse of intellectual property rights.' This is becoming more and more common, and while the end user normally doesn't make out well in a class-action suit, large settlements do provide a punishment and deterrent to corporations that abuse their power. The question becomes, what do we do to fix this so that consumers are truly protected?"
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Amazon Payment Adds "No Class Action" Language To Terms of Service

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:13PM (#41995799)

    That would make them unenforceable. I'd actually say we need to make the people who suggest such options to be prosecuted as attempting to corrupt the influence and sanctity of the courts, but I doubt that'll happen.

    Heck, if the Constitution didn't make it a legal right, they'd probably try to remove that access. Yet another example of how the Constitution needs a bit of rewriting to deal with the problems of the day.

    Not that we'll ever stop every attempt to weasel around it, but we can try to smack down a few.

    Also the first person who mentions Stella Liebeck can suck it.

    • by surmak (1238244) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:24PM (#41995959)

      Without class actions, how can a company be punished for, for example, cheating a million people out of $10 each?

      I suppose that the government could step in, but a class action has the advantage of providing a market-based solution to the problem. A greedy law firm can determine that the payoff will be profitable, and then invest their own resources to punish the offender. The fear of being on the receiving end of a suit helps keep big corporations in line, and this explains why they hate them so much.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:39PM (#41996137)

        But they do nothing for the consumer. It's a market solution that benefits lawyers and encourages them to pursue frivolous class actions.

        They pay-out to the consumer is a $3 off coupon and a pat on the back.

        There should be financial punishments for corporations who harm vast swaths of consumers, but I'm not sure class action lawsuits were the solution.

        • by reboot246 (623534)
          Class action lawsuits were invented by lawyers for lawyers. I agree that we need some other solution to punish companies that harm consumers.
        • by scot4875 (542869) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @06:06PM (#41996443) Homepage

          But they do nothing for the consumer.

          Sure they do. The threat of a class action suit acts as a deterrent for potential abuse. Without the deterrent, corporations are more likely to try to engage in unethical or illegal behavior if they think it'll make them a buck.

          --Jeremy

          • That is true – but there is still room for improvement. Under the current system with high costs and large variable awards you get Lawsuit Lotto - file frivolous lawsuits until you lucky number arrives. On the other hand, legitimate suits with low payouts are ignored.

            What you want the system to do is to quickly and consistently decided lawsuits – with damages high enough to compensate the victims, be a deterrent to future mischief – but not so high as to deter innovation.

            • by ganjadude (952775)
              The easy solution is too obvious to ever be implemented. Loser pays costs. Make every lawsuit a loser pays costs (in some cases plus $$) we will have less thaan 1/2 the year lawsuits overnight
              • by Geeky (90998)

                So only those who can afford to stand the losses can afford to sue? Let's say I sue Random MegaCorp for some reason. They decide to put a dozen highly paid lawyers on it, run up tens of thousands of costs and I lose - perhaps because I can only afford one crummy guy straight out of law school, rather than down to the merits of my case. If they win, I'm bankrupt. If I win, my costs are peanuts.

                I'd like to see a system whereby I can limit their costs to match mine - if I choose to pay one guy, or represent

          • by 91degrees (207121)
            That's not how tort law is meant to work though. The idea is that if there's a disagreement, you can get the legal system to settle things, and restore the injured party to where he should be.

            If the behaviour is illegal then it shouldn't be up to private citizens to get justice when there's a justice system that's meant to do this.
        • by Spril (524430) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @07:07PM (#41996919) Homepage

          No longer true. I (among many) received payment exceeding $1,000 this year from a Honda class action lawsuit, in which air conditioner compressors died at astonishingly high rates.

      • The government already steps in by providing courts with the power to enforce their judgements.

        You punish companies by introducing loser-pays, or loser-pays-up-to-the-value-of-their-own-costs. Settling a class-action over 1,000,000 people swizzed out of $10 will be nothing compared to settling 10,000 cases with individuals, each with its own costs bill.

        • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@wor f . n et> on Thursday November 15, 2012 @06:39PM (#41996713)

          You punish companies by introducing loser-pays, or loser-pays-up-to-the-value-of-their-own-costs. Settling a class-action over 1,000,000 people swizzed out of $10 will be nothing compared to settling 10,000 cases with individuals, each with its own costs bill.

          So out of those 1M people cheated of $10, you expect 1% of them to take the time, effort, and money to sue the company for that $10 back? You do realize that even small claims court requires paying a filing fee (around $20-40) just to file, right? So even if you win, you've gained... $-10 or so. And you lose a day's worth of PTO.

          A smart company would realize that and make sure the amount they cheat people out of is always going to be less than the filing fee. Sure there'll be a few who do so out of principle, but you can bet the numbers would be way less than 1%. And hell, you don't even have to do anything - just wait for the default judgement, pay up and cheat a few more people to pay for it all. Or just bill those people again and let them fight it all out again in small claims. Lose another half day of work and dollars.

          And yes, the company just does... nothing. No expensive person has to show up in court (default judgement is fine). Cost to you - time and money, cost to the company - nothing - it's pure profit that they'll probably extract from you next month when you'll be too tired to keep fighting it.

          • Maybe there should be a law that follows on the the old Chinese(?) proverb, "Once is happenstance, twice is circumstance, thrice is enemy action", a three strikes law for coporations/businesses. You take the company to small claims court once, win. They try it again next month, you go again and win. If they try the same thing (in general) a third time, you get the right as an individual to large damages (Thousands of dollars) damages and the right to publicise your win. Also, since a third strike judgement

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      And it needs to be taken to court and struck down. Before people just accept it and move on.

    • by jmauro (32523) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @06:05PM (#41996435)

      According to the Supreme Court in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion [wikipedia.org], the term to ban class actions in a EULA or other non-negotiated agreement is actually valid. As such the term is getting added into every EULA during the re-writing process since the benefits are overwhelming (basically preventing a normal consumer from every suing you for fault since they could never recover enough to make it worth while) and the costs are nothing.

      • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @06:19PM (#41996561)

        (basically preventing a normal consumer from every suing you for fault since they could never recover enough to make it worth while)

        In the UK, where there isn't really such a thing as a class action, what is done is that the plaintiffs get together, select a case, or a few cases which are good examples of the group and then everybody supports those people to sue. Once they win, the others can point to the first win as evidence in their own cases and so are pretty much guaranteed a cheap win. This means companies are almost forced to settle and certainly end up with huge costs if they don't.

        Why doesn't the same thing work in the US?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2012 @07:44PM (#41997219)

          (IANAL). The UK uses the English rule loser-pays costs system. Thus, if you're sure that you're going to win, you don't need to worry too much about attorneys' fees. If you have a case that will clearly result in a judgement of £10,000 and will cost £50,000 per side to litigate, then the defendant is going to end up out £110,000, and you'll end up getting £10,000.

          The US, unlike almost every other country in the world, uses the American rule, where each party pays their own attorneys' fees regardless of outcome. Thus, if you have a case that will clearly result in a judgement of $10,000 and will cost $50,000 per side to litigate, the defendant will end up paying $60,000, but you'll end up losing $40,000. To make matters more difficult, this means that a defendant under threat of numerous small suits can intentionally make the litigation as expensive as possible for both sides: while it makes it more expensive for them, it makes it so that the plaintiffs will end up losing money on the case even if successful.

          Small claims can help somewhat, as it doesn't allow attorneys, but even so, there are costs involved for the plaintiff. Thus, if a company cheats a few hundred thousand people out of $50 each, none of those people have any recourse in the courts that won't cost them much more than they'll gain.

      • by rgbrenner (317308)

        (basically preventing a normal consumer from every suing you for fault since they could never recover enough to make it worth while

        You've never actually read one of these arbitration clauses, have you?

        Here's PayPal's
        https://cms.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/?cmd=_render-content&content_ID=ua/upcoming_policies_full [paypal.com]

        We will pay the initial filing fee to commence arbitration and any arbitration hearing that you attend shall take place in the federal judicial district of your residence.

        Here's Amazon's
        http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/?nodeId=508088 [amazon.com]

        We will reimburse those fees for claims totaling less than $10,000 unless the arbitrator determines the claims are frivolous. Likewise, Amazon will not seek attorneys' fees and costs in arbitration unless the arbitrator determines the claims are frivolous. You may choose to have the arbitration conducted by telephone, based on written submissions, or in person in the county where you live or at another mutually agreed location.

        In business contracts, the arbitration clause has been standard for years (decade+)... and it usually says something equivalent to: loser pays all arbitration costs and attorney's fees.

        So if you have a legitimate claim, then you can file for arbitra

        • by rgbrenner (317308)

          the last bit applies to the business contracts I was referring to. Obviously, PayPal and Amazon do not have a loser pays clause... which is why I included what they actually say in quotes.

      • Terms like this and mandatory arbitration clauses should be illegal. It's a very slippery slope to when people can forgo their legal rights, and we're already slipped too far.

    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @06:37PM (#41996689)

      Yet another example of how the Constitution needs a bit of rewriting to deal with the problems of the day.

      You seriously want our current politicians... democrat or republican... to do a bit of "rewriting" of the constitution? You're fucking nutz.

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        Considering how divided the two main parties are, not much chance that they would be able to, even if they tried. I don't know the exact procedure but likely it'll involve things like having a 2/3 majority.

    • The clause is unenforceable. It has been established time and again that a person cannot sign his rights away with a contract. Whether there is an actual contract, or a TOS, a verbal agreement, or whatever - if you otherwise qualify as a member of a class that sues the company, then you remain qualified despite the language in the contract.

      The only useful (or useless) purpose of the language is to confuse people who might qualify as part of a class. If people don't believe they qualify, then they may not

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      What does a constitution have to do with contract law? That's not what a constitution is for. This is contract law related.

      The issue is much simpler: what you need is either an amendment to the law that allows the right to class action trials to be waived in a contract, or the creation of a law that forbids waiving such rights. Whatever applicable.

    • Seems like corporations want it both ways. They want the terms of service to have binding effect on the end user, but then they don't want the terms of service challenged to be deemed unbinding when they are challenged. Arbitration is something that unions use to obtain a middle ground even when there is none. Same here, corporations want a middle ground when in fact the policies are unjust/untenable. Hence we need something to make these types of agreements unconscionable without a person having to do two
  • I've never understood why people use Paypal. All I ever hear is how horrible they are. Are credit cards so difficult to use?
    • Re:Why use paypal? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ThatsMyNick (2004126) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:17PM (#41995849)

      Accepting credit cards is difficult. Accepting Paypal (or Amazon payments) is very easy.

    • Paypal is exquisitely convenient to use for eBay purchases, and eBay is roundly superior to most other online shopping.

      That's not to say that Paypal doesn't have its faults - it's like having an employee who will do things for you, but can't be trusted with anything important or valuable. If you give the employee a bunch of cash, he'll keep it and won't give it back.

      Or alternately, it's like skating on a pond where you know the ice is unsafe at one end, but you don't readily know where the boundary is.

      It wo

    • by kms_one (1272174)
      Buying from 30 vendors with PayPal: 30 vendors have your email address. Buying from 30 vendors with a CC: 30 vendors have your credit card. It's just that simple. The idea of PayPal is brilliant - The execution is just shady since they haven't been designated/regulated like a bank which they should be.
    • by cvtan (752695)
      Most sellers on eBay do not take credit cards. They are not horrible in my experience. Charges are too high, but if you need oddball stuff on eBay, you are practically required to use it. If bank-to-bank transfers were as cheap in the US as they are in Germany, PayPal would be out of luck. Also, if you are in the US and try to buy something from eBay Germany, it is difficult to pay unless the seller uses PayPal.
    • by jockm (233372)

      Could that be because people don't really say "hey I did XXX and nothing wrong happened?" I have been using paypal for a very long time, and the two times something hinky happened they were friendly, prompt, and took care of the issue right away. But I also don't feel compelled to write a blog post or start a campaign about it, and I doubt anyone would care.

    • by Tokolosh (1256448)

      I have in front of me almost exactly the same letter from American Express regarding arbitration.

  • by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:15PM (#41995829) Journal
    I've received several class action post-cards or emails over the past several years. They always go in the trash (real or virtual). Most of them are for some imagined offense that a company has committed, and amount to little more than a shakedown by some law firm trying to make a quick buck. I'm sure there are legitimate class actions, I've just never seen any that have benefitted me.
    • by OverlordQ (264228)

      > I'm sure there are legitimate class actions, I've just never seen any that have benefitted me.

      Class actions aren't to benefit you, it's to punish the company that did the wronging. (And make lawyers money)

      • by AuMatar (183847) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:22PM (#41995935)

        Exactly. The idea behind a class action is that if a company is wronging a lot of people in a way that's too small to be worth going after by any one person, it can be punished by them as a group. The problem is two-fold. First, they're frequently allowed to pay in goods/services (especially discounts) that will make them money rather than cost them money. Second, they settle for a fraction of the harm they caused, leaving no reason not to do it again. Those two things need to be fixed- the penalty needs to be made cash only, and the minimum penalty applied needs to be the total harm done. Preferably total harm done plus a puntitive fine

        • There are plenty of class actions that can be beneficial to the claimants (as well as the lawyers). These aren't the class actions you get postcards in the mail about some made up offense ("nutella isn't healthy!"), they are situations where you have experienced a real harm and you are probably aware of it. It turns into a class action when a bunch of people who have experienced the same harm try to sue and get consolidated into a class (or start out has a class but would have had legitimate cases on thei
        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          Is it that such penalties are defined in law to be so low? Or is it the judges that hand out those lenient penalties?

      • by oobayly (1056050)

        I always thought it was to make lawyers money (and to punish the company that did the wronging).

    • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:21PM (#41995923) Journal

      So, propose something better instead of simply removing one of the few ways we have to hold a corporation's feet to the fire. If arbitration was better at punishing corporations when they do wrong, they wouldn't be moving to it in large numbers.

      • by T Murphy (1054674)

        If arbitration was better at punishing corporations when they do wrong, they wouldn't be moving to it in large numbers.

        Not necessarily. It is possible that arbitration costs less than a court case, even if the results for the consumer come out the same. Also, having every case go through the same arbitration firm is sure to give more consistent results than coutrooms scattered around the country.

        Realistically, corporations will seek out arbitration firms that are favorable to them, but if arbitration were to reduce the cost of lawsuits by enough, an "honest" corporation might even prefer a consumer-friendly arbitration f

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This exactly! Class action lawsuits are just a scam. Corporations *never* do the evil shit they are regularly accused of, and even if they did, big fucking deal! This country is supposed to be a FREE MARKET, so just stop buying from them if they sell you a defective product or whatever! Of course, this is now Hussein Obama's AmeriKKKa where personal responsibility and rationality is dead and everyone expects the government and corporations to give them everything for free.

    • I've received several class action post-cards or emails over the past several years. They always go in the trash (real or virtual). Most of them are for some imagined offense that a company has committed, and amount to little more than a shakedown by some law firm trying to make a quick buck. I'm sure there are legitimate class actions, I've just never seen any that have benefitted me.

      If all these companies are so scared of being sued in a class-action lawsuit then clearly they are working the way they are supposed to. A class action isn't supposed to benefit you directly, it's supposed to be a punishment to the company to correct bad behavior.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Many years ago I got a letter for joining a class action against Paypal, whom I used occasionally at the time. I don't know exactly what it was for, but all I had to do was send a letter to some US law firm, and a year later or so I got a few dollars credited into my account. About $5 or so, not much, just enough to pay for lunch or so.

      I don't mind. If people are handing out money, I'm happy to receive some. Even if I'm not American, never even having set foot in the US, just happen to be using that service

  • Hope that a judge deems otherwise, since you may as well agree to sacrifice your second child and 5 goats to use their service if they can do this...

    As someone mentioned in a similar story (credit to whoever they are) you don''t get such shackles with in-store purchase unless there's ongoing payments!

    • by davecb (6526)
      It's not quite legal in Canada, although a court can honour and enforce the decisions of lawfully-entered-into "alternative dispute resolution". I suspect it's not been litigated, for fear of getting a decision (:-))
      • Re:Easy.. (Score:4, Informative)

        by compro01 (777531) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:51PM (#41996281)

        Whether a binding arbitration clause is valid depends on the province's consumer protection laws.

        No-class-action clauses have been found invalid in BC and Ontario, in the cases Seidel v. Telus Communications and Griffin v. Dell Canada respectively.

        I don't believe there have been cases on this regarding any other provinces' laws.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Before everyone jumps to conclusions,
    Class action lawsuits are nice for the law firms that pursue them, but rarely do much for the people that are part of the class.

    I've been involved in several in my life and never saw more than a few bucks.

    As a matter of fact, you usually have to specifically ask to be REMOVED from the class or be assumed to be a part of it. Kind of like being automatically opted-in instead of automatically being opted-out. And after you are opted-in, you lose any right to sue them o
    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Before everyone jumps to conclusions,
      Class action lawsuits are nice for the law firms that pursue them, but rarely do much for the people that are part of the class.

      I've been involved in several in my life and never saw more than a few bucks.

      Yeah that's not really true. I was involved in the Fujitsu class action lawsuit here in Canada relating to defective HDD's, and received nearly $1000 as compensation for the dozen or so drives I had fail. This was over the actual value of the drives that I had purchased.

  • No Class Action (Score:5, Informative)

    by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:18PM (#41995877)

    The question becomes, what do we do to fix this so that consumers are truly protected?"

    Congresss needs to step in and clarify. Either just git rid of the class action (and replace it with what?) or confirm that all consumers have a class action right, no matter the language of the contract.

    Even more far out, would be arbitration reform. Instead of arbitrators being hired by the companies that have a stake in the outcome, make the companies pay into a pool for each instance of arbitration they are called to. The arbitrator for a specific dispute would be pulled randomly from a pool of trained arbitrators. The could be industry specific pools, or just train the arbitrators in contract law. Of course if I were such an arbitrator, I'd throw out any contract over N pages. (Unless both parties had actual input into the contract)

    • by AuMatar (183847) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:24PM (#41995957)

      That's a great idea! Even better- we could have those trained arbitrators be paid for by taxes so that they aren't beholden to anyone but the law. We'll call them "judges".

      • Many places judges are not trained, they are elected. Some aren't even lawyers.

        An extension of the small claims process for interstate companies would help. The lawsuit wouldn't last more than a day, and the Judge would be impartial.
        • by AuMatar (183847)

          Pretty much every place I've seen that elects judges requires them to be members of the local bar.

          There's definitely ways we can improve taking people to court. But arbitration isn't one of them- it will always be biased towards companies, and there's no reason to create a parallel court system made out of people with no legal accountability and no appeals process. We have a court system. Hire more judges and make it take less red tape for short trials under a certain dollar limit. Maybe even as simple

    • by alexo (9335)

      The question becomes, what do we do to fix this so that consumers are truly protected?"

      You can't. There's no profit in protecting consumers.

      Congress needs to step in and clarify.

      Congresscritters are predominantly lawyers, their buddies are predominantly lawyers and CEOs.
      Why would they act against their own financial interests?

      (And don't talk to me about democracy. Democracy only works with an informed and engaged electorate.)

    • Are there any countries running a form of capitalism which is comparable, in which class action lawsuits are barred? Any indication that this hurts or helps consumer rights? I could see no class action lawsuits on average helping consumer rights if they resulted in less apathetic politicans and consumers. However, I could also see that hypothesis being totally wrong, and people just accepting whatever minor abuses companies throw at them.

      Seems like something which would have been researched by some ec
    • Congresss needs to step in and clarify. Either just git rid of the class action (and replace it with what?)

      Stone-faced, hard-hearted Federal prosecutors with as much power as the FBI, dedicated soley to the arresting, trying, convicting, and imprisoning (in Gen Pop, PMITA prison) the actual executives that are responsible for lying to and robbing from US citizens.

  • by Facekhan (445017) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:19PM (#41995893)

    Congress never intended pre-dispute binding arbitration clauses to apply to consumer contracts under the FAA but business-friendly courts have interpreted the law that way. Congress just needs to amend the FAA so that pre-dispute binding arbitration is not binding in consumer contracts, as well as prohibiting the requirement that consumers waive their right to class-action and jury trial pre-dispute.

    It would also help if Congress gave the CFPA or some other pro-consumer leaning agency oversight of private arbitration companies because right now they have a massive conflict of interest since their customers are the big businesses that count on them ruling in their favor more often than courts would in consumer cases.

    • ... big businesses that count on them ruling in their favor more often than courts would in consumer cases.

      AFAIK, it's not just "more often", it's like greater than 90% of the time.

    • by BigFire (13822)

      If you don't like the terms of the agreement, you do not have to abide by it. Simply don't do business with your supplier. That wasn't hard to understand.

      • by pavon (30274) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @06:24PM (#41996599)

        What if I do like the contract, but they break it? Then I go to court to resolve the matter. Oh, wait I can't, I have to go to arbitration, where the result is already determined against me.

        If a contract isn't enforceable by law than it isn't a contract anymore. It is a bundle of official looking lies with no weight. Such a thing is unconscionable. It violates the very foundation of market based societies of law, and is tantamount to fraud.

        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          When accusing someone of breaking a contract, in how far are you yourself still bound by the terms of that contract?

          If you buy say a mobile phone plan, and they overcharge/miscalculate/whatever: that's not necessarily a breach of that contract. The exact pricing terms are usually separate, if only so they can be changed without having to change the service contract itself. Yet if they say cancel your service without sufficient notice or your agreement, that'd be a direct breach of contract.

  • Since there is no way congress is going to fix this when lobbied by the public we need to amend our political system in the following ways: : 1.) Stipulate that use of public airwaves by a licensed television station requires that the licensee provide access to the public airwaves for a reasonable amount of time. In this way we can provide access for advertising to public officials without requiring legislatures to sell their soul to gain access to what is basically a public right of way. 2) Make it il
  • Maybe I'm missing something, since I've never had to go through arbitration (or small claims court). But couldn't a lawyer/firm put together a kit to show you what you needed to do to take these cases to small claims court, or even requesting arbitration? Do companies have a time limit for arbitration? I could only imagine if a law firm did a "class" action style sign up for these kits, and charged people a small amount of money for it (generic kit, couple hours, sell it for like $10 even) that it would
  • Imma sue those bastards. Who's with me?
  • Don't shop there.

    I don't buy stuff from any store I don't like, it's called personal choice.
    • by Microlith (54737) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:59PM (#41996347)

      Don't shop there.

      Which will hold for only so long, corporations are going to be applying this to everything. Eventually you will be unable to buy from anywhere or use anything without being forced to give up your rights to the courts.

      • I'm surprised it's taken amazon this long. Several other big companies have done it and have not faced revolts, lynchings, or even much noise that I've heard about barring such clauses via legislation. What were they worried about, it couldn't possibly be that they respected their customers too much: they're a large corporation.
        • by paulatz (744216)

          I'm surprised it's taken amazon this long.

          Maybe they wanted to avoid the negative publicity that comes with; maybe they were forced to do it now because they just found a severe defect in one of their most successful products. Maybe I'm just paranoid

          • But there IS no negative publicity: everyone else is already doing it, and consumers don't care. Aside from a few specific incidents with phone carrriers, I haven't heard much noise about how ridiculous it is.
  • Generally, the only people who profit from the class action suits are the lawyers.
  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:57PM (#41996337) Homepage

    As others have pointed out the main benficiaries of class action law suits are the lawyers -- who make a lot of money out of them. Many law makers (Parliament/Senate/Congress/...) were lawyers when younger and will remain good friends with those who are still lawyers.They are not going to see their old profession or friends suffer: they will pass legislation to stop these sorts of clauses.

    Cynical ? Moi ?

    • by alexo (9335)

      You forget their other friends, corporations.

    • That's not cynical. The only groups who go against their self-interests are voters and consumers.

      Cynical would be assuming the lawyers and the corporations are going to come to some sort of agreement where the lawyers will still get paid but the consumers will still not be able to band together to hold corporations responsible for things.

      Of course, most of us are cynical enough about it to think that's pretty much what we have already with class-action lawsuits.
  • I've been mistaken. You're probably heading to China, not Russia.
  • by houghi (78078) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @06:06PM (#41996451)

    Normally if a contract contains something that is not legal, the whole contract can become void. So even if they put this in, how can this be legal?

    If they put in their contract that they will now be the legal guardians of your children, that would not make it so. At least I hope.

    Saying:Yeah, but you signed, does not make illegal contracts legal. I doubt it is possible to take away that kind of rights by signing a contract. I am using signing and not even 'clicking on ok'

  • Binding users into a contract that takes away their rights to litigate is just plain wrong. Class-action or not. If I don't like something Amazon has done with my privacy, history, purchasing info, whatever I should have every tool available to slap the shit out of them in court. Simply saying "Oh Hai, yeah that class action thing paypal did? We're doing it too so... lol.. fuck you. Love, Amazon" seems to me is just side-stepping the law in case they do something nefarious. Intentional or not.

    I can totall

  • by cmattdetzel (1067146) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @06:53PM (#41996803)
    Here's a great law review article [uoregon.edu] written by Jean Sternlight of UNLV's Boyd School of Law discussing the impact of the recent case--AT&T Mobility, LLC v. Concepcion, 131 S. Ct. 1740 (2011)--that paved the way for companies like Paypal and Amazon to impose arbitral class action waivers in their consumer contracts.

    As others may have pointed out, the most effective (and direct) remedial measure here would involve amendment by Congress of the Federal Arbitration Act. Partisanship and regulatory capture by big business may render this option unworkable for now. In that case, changing the composition of the high court justices, coupled with nationwide reports of the deleterious effects of the Concepcion decision, could allow for SCOTUS to agree to hear a similar case in which Concepcion's holding could be narrowed or abrogated.
  • For all of you non-lawyers who have not followed Supreme Court caselaw on arbitration, the fault lies with the Federal Arbitration Act. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Arbitration_Act [wikipedia.org] In short, the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that that Act has such a strong presumption for the validity of an arbitration clause that it is impossible to wiggle out of it. The next emerging threat is going to be binding arbitration in employment contracts. It already is inserted in many employment contracts, and
  • > "The question becomes, what do we do to fix this so that consumers are truly protected?

    Well, the obvious solution is to fix the US court system, where almost any case can be brought against a company or an individual, often even with barely any basis in law. It is much too lucrative to sue, and thus that right gets abused left and right.

    So, tighten up the court system so that it becomes more about upholding established law rather than entertaining suits from attorneys who just happen to have found som

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