While nearly all car dealers require car buyers to agree to arbitration as a condition of getting a car, car manufacturers have not been covered by those documents. But now, as this article from Jalopnik neatly explains, Chrysler is engaged in an enormous effort to get consumers to sign away their constitutional right to a trial by jury. Here’s how it works.
Employee Advantage – Friends Program Pricing & Acknowledgement Form
Some customers, especially those who later try to bring lawsuits under the Lemon Law, are informed that they’ve signed an arbitration agreement with Chrysler. The problem is that customers are surprised at the news and don’t remember signing the form. A little investigation into the paperwork signed at purchase reveals that they’ve signed the “Chrysler Group LLC – Employee Advantage – Friends Program Pricing & Acknowledgement Form.” This form gives a one-percent discount from the factory, but it also includes language that takes away customers’ rights to sue under the Lemon Law and other laws. Instead, they have unknowingly agreed to go into arbitration with Chrysler—where the company sets the rules—if there’s a problem with the car.
When customers buy cars, especially cars on the lower end of the price range, this discount can be as little as $200, but the effect on their rights may be much more extensive.
This Trick Is a Troubling but Common Way to Strip Americans of Their Rights
This is a very typical way for some corporations to strip Americans of their rights—in order to continue to make bad cars for which they do not want to answer. Chrysler even argues that it’s good for the consumers not to have those rights. It’s done in a fine-print setting where almost no human being buying a car would realize that this was happening to them. However the courts are quite likely to find that an agreement was formed, and it will likely cause enormous, real-world harm to people who are cheated or injured down the road.
Overall, it’s a very ugly, troubling development.
Protecting Your Rights and Avoiding the Arbitration Scam by Chrysler
If you’re worried about falling for this scam, or another like it, you can take steps to avoid a potential problem. The above-mentioned article from Jalopnik offers a few options for protecting your rights, including:
- Realize that it’s not difficult to get a sale price under invoice price, and that $200 may not be worth losing your rights.
- Carefully read everything you’re asked to sign when buying a car. Although it’s a ton of paperwork, it’s too easy to agree to something like this without realizing what happened.
Thank you to Paul Bland of Public Justice and Clarence Ditlow of the Center for Auto Safety for bringing this important information to our attention. For more help researching your rights under the Virginia Lemon Law, you can also visit our extensive legal library or call our office directly at 804-282-7900.