Supreme Court says “Yes” to Let the Buyer Beware!

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court decided a case – AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion – which should make all consumers nervous.  In the AT&T Mobility case, the Supreme Court ruled that it’s just fine for consumers to give up their rights to participate in a class action lawsuit in the fine print of a contract.  This may not seem like a big deal; lots of people think that the only ones who benefit in a class action lawsuit are the lawyers.  But it’s not just a big deal, it’s a huge deal.  It means the end of private consumer protection.

Let me give you an example, and then I’ll explain why this matters on a ripoff trade school blog.  Let’s say Corporation X isn’t doing well.  The company is a subscription based service which charges its customers every month.  In the post-AT&T Mobility world, the CEO can simply direct his CFO to add a $2/month charge to every subscriber’s bill.  If the company has a million subscribers, that’s $2 million/month.  After six months, the company has stolen $12 million, but the most any individual subsriber has lost is $12.  Who is going to sue over that?  Without a class action, “only a lunatic or a fanatic” would do anything. The company gets away with it.  So, what do companies learn from the new decision?  “Don’t worry about consumer claims anymore; maximize your cash while you can.”

In the coming months, you are going to see papers stuck into everything you buy.  Where there used to be only a warranty, now there is going to be a class action waiver too.  These are already in your cell phone contracts, your credit card contracts, and practically every other contract that matters to you.  Now they are going to come with everything you buy, and they are all going to be enforceable.

If you are considering a trade school, class action waivers are going to be in your enrollment papers.  Many people call me about trade school ripoffs, and the best way I can help them is through a class action.  That door is going to close.  Now, more than ever, it’s important for you to check out the school on the front end, and ask the questions I have posed for you in earlier posts.  Read your enrollment papers, and decide if it is worth it to give up the rights they ask you to give up.  The Supreme Court has just given schools the green light to make whatever promises they want, but only be accountable to the few students with the resources and energy to stand up for themselves.  It’s a giant leap backwards to the days of “Let the Buyer Beware!”

In my opinion, yesterday was a sad day for America and our democracy.  But that’s a subject for another blog.  If you’re looking at trade schools, now more than ever you need to be careful!

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