Almost anyone with a Chase card has gotten (or will shortly get) an email notification with the subject line “Important information regarding changes to your Chase account”. While this is super generic and they send this shit all the time, this one contains something real that we should probably pay attention to.
Chase is moving it’s cardholders to a system of binding arbitration. In the simplest (I’m not a lawyer, please google it, etc) definition, this means primarily that you cannot sue Chase bank, nor can you engage in class action lawsuits against them. If you have any issues with Chase bank, they must be addressed individually and using arbitration rather than the court system. You have an option to optout of the binding arbitration. According to Chase Support’s twitter feed, they will not cancel or modify your account in any way if you do so (there have been a lot of mixed messages about this from individual Chase customer service people!). The optout has to be done by early August (check the date specific to you in your email) and you have to physically send them a letter (template here)
There are pros and cons of arbitration. It is often faster, cheaper, and easier than the court system, and it removes burden from the court system. Arbitrators are neutral 3rd parties that both you and the other entity have to agree to. Both parties split the cost of arbitration. Arbitration is very standard (most credit card companies have it in their policies).
However, in practice binding/forced arbitration can be a piece of shit that overwhelmingly favors the corporate institution and is used by them to stifle the rights and options of it’s workers or consumers. Stats show that arbitration decides much more often in favor of the corporation and that even when it does not, the dollar amounts awarded are much much lower. You give up your right to address any matters in a court of law, and documents/decisions from arbitration are NOT public knowledge or available. You give up any right of being involved in a class action suit, which is enormously stifling; if the bank overcharges you 30 dollars you aren’t going to pay 500 to bring it to arbitration just like you wouldn’t pay that to bring it to sue. But arbitration offers you no option to join a class action suit where you and 100000 other people overcharged do make it a feasible lawsuit that forces the bank to address.
A collection of coverage/details from around the web
This is a decision that you can make either way (and hopefully never have to use!). A good friend of mine who works in law and has worked for an arbitrator isn’t upset by the changes and says arbitration is common and has a lot of advantages. The internet in general and RBG are REAL against the idea of forced or binding arbitration.
I personally will be opting out. Possibly I may still use arbitration but I do not want to be forced, I do not want my rights to trial taken, I do not want the decision/info to not be publicly available, and I do not want to not be able to participate in class action. I also think this notification tucked in a generic email is bullshit - I usually ignore these emails from Chase because we get them like once a month and they’re never important. I probably would have ignored this if I hadn’t been given a heads up by a friend sending info.