Consumer Groups Call Out Microsoft for Use of Forced Arbitration

This week, Microsoft hosted its Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, DC. Microsoft has long used forced arbitration against its customers, so a coalition of DC-based consumer advocacy groups crashed the convention to educate the public and attendees about this abusive practice.

Microsoft, like most tech companies, forces users to give up their constitutional rights by burying a forced arbitration clause in its terms of service. This means that users of Windows, Xbox, or any of Microsoft’s hundreds of other products will not be able to hold the tech giant accountable in court if, for example, their privacy is violated or if the product simply doesn’t work.

With forced arbitration, Microsoft is single-handedly able to kick its wronged customers out of court and instead funnel them into a rigged forum decided by an arbitrator chosen by Microsoft.  This arbitrator is not required to follow the law, and the decision is almost impossible to appeal. And because forced arbitration is completely secret, consumers can never learn if Microsoft’s business practices harmed consumers.

Forced arbitration also prevents groups of harmed users from joining together in a class action, meaning that each person must take on Microsoft alone.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, supporters and staff of the Alliance for Justice, Public Citizen, and the American Association for Justice handed out fliers to conference attendees and the general public at the conference location. As always, people were shocked and angered to learn that Microsoft and other companies are able to single-handedly revoke Americans’ constitutional rights.

Tell Microsoft that you deserve better! Tweet @Microsoft and tell them to #stopforcedarbitration. And if you really want to add insult to injury, make sure to tweet from an iPhone.*

*Apple uses forced arbitration, too.