Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

I asked him if he had seen the “Arbitration Notice.” He said “No.” I said “Are you sure? Maybe it’s in the pile,” referring to the stack of bills and junk mail thrown into the basket for our attention at a later time. He pulled it all out and began riffling through the paperwork. “I don’t see it,” he replied. “Well, where’s the bill?” I asked. “Paid it already, the paperwork is on your desk.” “It should have been an extra piece of paper that had “Arbitration Notice” on the cover,” I said. “Didn’t see it,” he said “Probably threw it out.”

That’s how it went in my house, the house that is always on the look out for dirty tricks by Comcast. So I imagine most other houses did what we did, threw it out as just one more piece of cable mumbo-jumbo fine-print baloney. The now infamous “Arbitration Notice” that Comcast sent its customers sometime in July, had gone the way of credit card offers, coupons and catalogs, to the recycle bin.

It’s a neat trick, gotta give ‘em credit for that. Just notify people one day that if they have any dispute they might have heretofore litigated, Comcast unilaterally took away that right. Poof! All gone!

“Any “Dispute,” claim or controversy between you and Comcast regarding any aspect of your relationship with Comcast (I have a “relationship” with Comcast?) that has accrued or may hereafter accrue, whether based in contract, statute, regulation, ordinance, tort (including but not limited to, fraud, misrepresentation, fraudulent inducement, negligence or any other intentional tort), or any other applicable legal or equitable theory, and includes the validity, enforceability or scope of this Arbitration Provision.”

Then they go on to tell you that class action suits are out and forget about going after any of their officers, representatives, agents or employees.

So if the cable guy comes over to my house and in the course of doing his work hits the wrong wire and starts a fire and my house burns down I will have to go to Arbitration rather than court and will not be able to recover my lawyers’ fees if they find in my favor but will have to reimburse Comcast for all their fees if the Arbitration finds in Comcast’s favor.

Can somebody explain to me what an equitable “theory” is? I think the Comcast guy got the language from, it’s almost exactly like their statement on “limited liability.” But even GermanDeli had the good grace to exempt injury or death. If I’m reading this right, Comcast could kill you and you still wouldn’t be able to collect attorney’s fees.

I also like the term “fraudulent inducement.” It brings to mind a woman who is trying to pass off certain body parts as genuinely her own in order to snag a guy when in fact she paid a pretty penny to look that way. That’s fraudulent inducement.

Way harsh you say? You’re right. Comcast is such an ideal corporate citizen and they give back SO much to the community. It says so on their website.

“Our mission (and you bet we choose to accept it): to empower communities and enrich lives…so that our gifts keep on giving. And that enriches all our lives.”

That peccadillo is under their website heading called “Giving more, Getting more.” Which means “We are stickin it to ya and lovin it!” I wonder who came up with the little “and you bet we choose to accept it”? Makes me want to slap a fella on the back and buy him another beer!

The good news is you do have thirty days from the date you receive the notice to opt out of this fraudulent inducement. You have to do it online or send them a letter. But since my husband can’t remember if he got the notice or not, I am not sure I will beat that deadline. And the letter writing is going really slow because I am having a hard time finding exactly the right phrasing.

Anybody got a dictionary of four-letter words you could lend me?

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