Arbitration For Collection Actions – Fair or Unfair?


We are not big fans of arbitration as it is often very unfair for Alabama consumers. We recently read a post in Credit Slips which is so typical of what Alabama consumers face when they are hit with an arbitration claim, particularly arbitration claims in the National Arbitration Forum (NAF). Here is the guts of the story but also read the entire post:

Had a very interesting experience today. Responded to an arbitration claim by FIA Card Services f/k/a MBNA denying client agreed to arbitration and disputing amount owing. Requested an in-person hearing and client paid $250 fee for the hearing. Originally the hearing was scheduled at a location more than 3 hours away from my office. I objected and it was rescheduled about an hour away. The arbitration was Harold Curry. I showed up at 12 noon. At 12:45 no one from FIA appeared or called. The arbitrator called NAF to find out what he should do and left a message that was not answered. Mr. Curry and I went into an office and talked a while. I pointed out to him that the claim was based on breach of contract, but no contract was ever produced, so he could not possibly determine the parties’ obligations or damages. He asked me what my client owed MBNA. I told him I did not know and that it was not my job to help MBNA establish damages. If they were so concerned, they could have shown up for the arbitration hearing. He admitted that they never show up and he has never had an attorney show up before. Just before I left, he suggested that we might reschedule. I told him I would not agree to rescheduling and that I believed he had no choice but to find an award in favor of my client. This made him extremely uncomfortable and he indicated he would need to talk to someone at NAF first. I reminded him that he was supposed to be impartial and he told me he would give me his decision in a few days.

We are seeing more and more Alabama consumers who have been nailed with arbitration awards and they never received notice of the arbitration or they could not seem to get a hearing. We will be posting more on this growing issue facing Alabama consumers.

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