When was the first time two people entered into a contract? I am not sure, but I like to imagine it happened right around the time that fire was first discovered. Flame was actually the second spark that day. The first was the idea of specialization. Instead of two cavemen both going to hunt for food, they agreed that one would go hunt while the other would rub sticks together until they had a way to cook the meat.
Contracts certainly have come a long way since then, but the basic premise remains. One party will do something that benefits a second party, if the second party does something that benefits the first. But recently the basic contractual premise of “mutual benefit” has begun to fade. Sophisticated parties are devising contract clauses with the intent to benefit one party at the expense of the other. Nowhere has this been more blatant than with the recent advent of class action waivers.
In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court handed what is virtually a license to steal to corporations in the decision of AT&T Wireless Mobility v. Concepcion. The Court held that class action waivers, as well as mandatory arbitration clauses, are valid in consumer contracts. This means that millions of cell phone customers have unknowingly waived their right to relief for relatively small breaches of contract by signing a contract they had no power to negotiate. Since then, you would be hard pressed to find a consumer or employment contract that doesn’t contain these provisions.
If you have a cell phone service plan in America, listen up. My bet is that your cell phone company is taking advantage of you without you even knowing it. If you have a cell phone, you likely have a two-year service contract with one of four companies. You promised to pay your cell phone provider a set amount of money per month and, in exchange, they promised to provide you with mobile service. At some point your cell phone provider decided to add a new charge to your bill, one that you did not agree to. They refer to it as an “administrative fee,” and it is between $0.61 and $1.99 depending on your provider.
Traditionally, when a breach is as small as this one but reaches a large group of people, it is handled with a class action. But most cell phone customers, knowingly or not, have waived their right to join or start a class action against their provider. And certainly no rational person would sue their provider for 61 cents when the cost to simply file an action is substantially more than that. Providers have all but completely insulated themselves from liability in contracts with cell phone customers. Sixty-one cents might seem small, but cell phone providers are profiting billions of dollars each year through this practice alone.
I started CrowdSuit to give consumers an avenue for vindication when their rights have been limited through contracts. CrowdSuit is the first and only way for individuals to pursue small damage claims when class action waivers are in play. CrowdSuit works by accepting the assignment of legal claims by would-be plaintiffs, aggregating these claims, and initiating a one-on-one action against the company that is committing the bad act. When individual damages are so low, the main goal of litigating is to stop the continued wrongdoing as opposed to returning every customer’s couple of dollars. In fact, when awards are small, many individuals do not even bother to cash checks or redeem settlements. Instead of sending individuals back very small amounts of money, CrowdSuit shares any recovery made by way of settlement or judgment with charities for which assignors vote.
Go ahead and take a look at your cell phone bill. If you don’t like what you see, visit our website at www.crowdsuit.com and take your rights back.
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