Comments from the Arbitration Study Respondents: Contracts Can't Take Away Your Rights as an American Citizen

by Jeff Sovern

Last week I posted the abstract for our study, 'Whimsy Little Contracts' with Unexpected Consequences: An Empirical Analysis of Consumer Understanding of Arbitration Agreements. The abstract observed that many respondents think that form contracts can't strip consumers of certain rights. That conclusion is obvious from the statistical data, but the written comments make the point more dramatically. After each multiple choice question, we gave respondents room to comment. Here is some of what they had to say:

  • I don’t see how they could preclude us from filing a class action suit through a whimsy little contract
  • You always have a right to pursue legal action when someone has wronged you, it is not up to one party or another to determine whether or not they will take away that right
  • It is your right as an American to have a trial by a jury of your peers.
  • I believe it is your American right to sue in larger court systems.
  • Binding arbitrators are stipulated, right? I GUESS that stipulation could be contested, THEN we’d get a jury trial. It’s also why I avoid putting very much on credit cards.
  • I did not read this information but I would expect that [suing in a non-small claims court] would be my right as a free citizen of the US.
  • Based on my memory of what I think I’ve read has happened. And an old cliche, “You can’t sign away your rights.”
  • I believe that would be my rights as a citizen.

The Supreme Court has a different view of what it means to be an American citizen.

I hope to write more about the article in the days to come.