How Companies Block Your Day in Court


Your checking account balance is wiped out because of a massive fraud. The bank failed to protect you, but you can’t sue. Why? You’ve signed a contract barring you from taking it to court.

If that sounds surprising, you have company. Three out of four people surveyed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last year did not know whether they had signed away their right to bring a lawsuit against a financial company. That’s because these restrictions—known as mandatory arbitration clauses—are usually hidden in contract fine print. Yet they’re pervasive. If you watch videos on Netflixor shop on Amazon, you’re governed by one of these clauses. Ditto, most likely, if you have a cell phone plan with a major provider; you may even see them in nursing-home and employment contracts.


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