Here’s something neat. Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Cablevision/Optimum actually let customers opt out of arbitration when they sign up. If you don’t want to give up your right to personally sue them in a court of law and be forced into a kangaroo court overseen by a judge whose fees are paid for by the company you’re suing, Cablevision will let you. The caveat is that you have to tell them within 30 days of signing your contract. Here’s the links and relevant contract language to opt-out:
“IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO BE BOUND BY THIS ARBITRATION PROVISION, YOU MUST NOTIFY COMCAST IN WRITING WITHIN 30 DAYS OF THE DATE THAT YOU FIRST RECEIVE THIS AGREEMENT BY VISITING WWW.COMCAST.COM/ARBITRATIONOPTOUT, OR BY MAIL TO COMCAST 1701 JOHN F. KENNEDY BLVD., PHILADELPHIA, PA 19103-2838, ATTN: LEGAL DEPARTMENT/ARBITRATION. YOUR WRITTEN NOTIFICATION TO COMCAST MUST INCLUDE YOUR NAME, ADDRESS AND COMCAST ACCOUNT NUMBER AS WELL AS A CLEAR STATEMENT THAT YOU DO NOT WISH TO RESOLVE DISPUTES WITH COMCAST THROUGH ARBITRATION. YOUR DECISION TO OPT OUT OF THIS ARBITRATION PROVISION WILL HAVE NO ADVERSE EFFECT ON YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH COMCAST OR THE DELIVERY OF SERVICES TO YOU BY COMCAST. IF YOU HAVE PREVIOUSLY NOTIFIED COMCAST OF YOUR DECISION TO OPT OUT OF ARBITRATION, YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO SO AGAIN.”
“e) You may opt out of this agreement’s arbitration provision. If you do so, neither you nor TWC can require the other to participate in an arbitration proceeding. To opt out, you must notify TWC in writing within 30 days of the date that you first became subject to this arbitration provision. You must use one of these addresses to opt out:
Time Warner Cable
60 Columbus Circle, Rm 16-329
New York, NY 10023
Attn: Arbitration Opt-out
You must include your name, address and TWC account number and a clear statement that you wish to opt out of this Agreement’s arbitration obligation.”
"IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO BE BOUND BY THIS ARBITRATION PROVISION, YOU MUST NOTIFY CABLEVISION IN WRITING WITHIN 30 DAYS OF THE DATE THAT YOU FIRST RECEIVE THIS AGREEMENT BY EMAILING US AT NOARBITRATION@CABLEVISION.COM OR BY MAIL TO CABLEVISION RESEARCH & SUPPORT, 200 JERICHO QUADRANGLE, JERICHO, NY 11753, ATTN. ARBITRATION. YOUR WRITTEN NOTIFICATION TO CABLEVISION MUST INCLUDE YOUR NAME, ADDRESS, AND CABLEVISION ACCOUNT NUMBER AS WELL AS A CLEAR STATEMENT THAT YOU DO NOT WISH TO RESOLVE DISPUTES WITH CABLEVISION THROUGH ARBITRATION. YOUR DECISION TO OPT OUT OF THIS ARBITRATION PROVISION WILL HAVE NO ADVERSE EFFECT ON YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH
CABLEVISION OR THE DELIVERY OF CABLEVISION SERVICES TO YOU.”
I couldn’t find an arbitration clause in the contract for FiOS.
Most people will not have to sue their cable company, but why give up any rights as a consumer that you don’t have to?
It would be better if customers could opt-out at any time during the contract, or, better yet, there wasn’t an arbitration clause in there to begin with, but at least there is the option to regain the rights you’ve signed away.
Comcast Agreement for Residential Services [Comcast]
Time Warner Cable Residential Services Subscriber Agreement [Time Warner Cable]
FiOS terms of service (PDF) [FiOS]
Agreement for Optimum Voice [Optimum] (Thanks to Kathy!)