On-Line Arbitration Clauses Common, NYT Reports

The furor last spring over General Mills's attempt to require anyone who used its websites to arbitrate all claims against the company, which led to a highly publicized return to sanity by the company, hasn't deterred on-line retailers from using both "browsewrap" and "clickwrap" contract terms requiring arbitration of claims arising out of on-line transactions. According to an on-line New York Times column, "The Upshot," about a third of the top 200 on-line retail sites make use of either arbitration agreements or class-action bans (or both). Amazon, eBay, and Dropbox are leading examples, as is the Wall Street Journal. But according to the Times piece, Google, Facebook and the New York Times itself have not yet imposed such requirements. The Times report notes that Travelocity has successfully invoked its arbitration clause to derail an antitrust class action, but also that individual consumers have, on a few occasions, actually invoked eBay's arbitration procedure.

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