essentially a small clause that is in almost ALL consumer and employment contracts that keeps consumers from being able to sue or engage in class action suits, The company gets to choose the arbitrator (as well as the location) so you don't stand much of any chance and if you lose they will then charge you for anything even slightly related to the costs of the arbitration regardless of how valid the claim was.... so essentially a court where the judgement is usually destined to both be in the companies favor and punish the consumer for even attempting to arbitrate a disagreement.
(summary from my memory of a case that occurred about 2 years ago, so apologize if some minor details are wrong)
In one case with haliburton a women signed it as part of an employment contract, she was working in a war zone and was raped by several employees, the company/ employees at the company engaged in several violations following including locking her in a shipping container long enough to potentially cause issues with any medical evidence, since it was in a war zone, the company handled the rape kit and subsequently lost it but it was later found missing some evidence.
she could not sue the company, she was forced to do mandatory binding arbitration..... she fought that in court and could not sue..... so she went through with the arbitration, despite the inherit unfairness she was awarded 3 million dollars..... Then the company wanted to take it to court because they didn't like the arbitration results....
You may think it doesn't matter, but what happens if your 401k is lost? or you are severely injured at work? or your cell phone company mistakenly gives you a $10,000 bill, you are at their mercy with no legal recourse, period, not a thing you can do if the arbitration panel decides against you, no jury, no appeal, you just lose.
I ask you to encourage your representatives (especially republicans who are ok with this abuse) to ban mandatory binding arbitration.
S. 987: Arbitration Fairness Act of 2011 (GovTrack.us)
I hate to turn this into a D vs. R thing, but the support of republicans for this alone should show you just how much republicans want to **** on the average american. no basic legal protections of citizens from abuse of corporations. You can argue then don't sign the contract and that only works if you live completely off the grid in a shack in the woods with no insurance, medical plan, cell phone, cable, internet, employer, so yes if you meet that criteria you can avoid mandatory binding arbitration, but otherwise you are stuck with it.