The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the city attorney is suing a leading credit card dispute resolution service, accusing it of favoring industry and stacking the system against consumers in debt collection cases.
The suit, filed by the office of City Attorney Dennis Herrera late last month in San Francisco Superior Court, alleges that National Arbitration Forum, one of the nation’s biggest dispute resolution companies, is biased in favor of debt collectors. It says the forum “is actually in the business of operating an arbitration mill, churning out arbitration awards in favor of debt collectors and against California consumers.”
The complaint cites forum statistics showing that of 18,075 cases brought before one of its arbitrators from January 2003 to March 2007, a total of only 30 resulted in victories for consumers.
The suit touches on a matter that’s become an increasing concern for consumer groups in recent years – the push by financial services companies and other businesses to impose mandatory arbitration as a substitute for lawsuits to settle disputes with customers. If I did the math right, consumers win approximately .16 of the cases and the credit card companies and banks win…uh…99.84 of the cases. Amazing.