Richard Feynman and Arbitration

by Jeff Sovern

Some readers of our blog will no doubt be familiar with Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman from his popular books, What Do You Care What Other People Think? or Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! Others will remember him from his service on the panel that investigated the Challenger disaster.  His relevance to arbitration stems from his quote about the difference between knowing the name of something, and actually knowing what that something is. See Richard P. Feynman, What Do You Care What Other People Think? 14 (1988)( “I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.”). Unfortunately, that appears to describe many of the respondents to the St. John's Arbitration Study.

Here's what I mean.  After showing respondents a contract with an arbitration clause, we asked:

If you and the credit card company have a dispute that is too large to be brought in a small claims court, did the contract you just saw say you have agreed to arbitrate it?

43% said it did, though a majority either didn't know or said the contract did not provide for arbitration.  The contract had included a bold-face reference to the arbitration clause on page two, and the clause itself appeared in bold partly on page six and partly on page seven, so that in all, the arbitration clause was referred to or appeared in bold on three of the seven pages of the contract. In addition, some of its terms were printed in italics and ALLCAPS, making it even more conspicuous.  In light of all that, it may not be surprising that 43% of the consumers noticed the arbitration clause.

But as Feynman noted, that doesn't mean they know what it meant.  Of the 43% who said that the contract provided for arbitration, 61% also believed that consumers would have a right to have a court decide the dispute, despite the fact that the contract said in bold, italics, and ALLCAPS that they wouldn't.  Nearly a fifth of those who believed that the contract mandated arbitration checked “I don’t know” when asked if consumers would have a right to sue in court.  In short, only 59 respondents—less than 9% of the total—realized that the contract both provided for arbitration and precluded litigation in court.  Similarly, of the 43% who understood that the contract specified that disputes would be resolved through arbitration, only 80 realized that they could not obtain a jury trial, meaning than only 12% of the total understood both that the contract provided for arbitration and that it precluded a jury trial of disputes. An even smaller subset of the 43%, 46 (less than 7% of the total), recognized that the contract foreclosed participation in a class action. All this even though the contract instructed respondents in bold that “It is important that you read the entire Arbitration Provision section carefully.” In short, our study,  'Whimsy Little Contracts' with Unexpected Consequences: An Empirical Analysis of Consumer Understanding of Arbitration Agreements suggests some consumers may know the word arbitration, but few know what it means.


0 thoughts on “Richard Feynman and Arbitration

  1. Tim Glover says:

    Arbitration? Some of us never get close to letting facts be known? Lots of people on the bad side of the results of no representatives at all. No one. The highest places all say “it is not my job” for some reason. We need safe and human laws. The animals of Texas and USA have safer and cleaner A/C than the law insist is OK. But can not dispute the facts of “IT IS NOT OK”. Facts, not opinions of useless A/C techs at TDLR. The rest of the world of A/C says “never” do this to any A/C.
    Laws that do not follow any constitution are in full effect on the poorest Texans there are today. Even the AG office says they can not do anything about Administrative laws that are “made up” by the administration that made them.
    No matter how much proof is denied, facts are denied, enough to win case clearly if in any court. I lost cases because someone said it is legal in mobile homes only. I ended up with 24/7 insulation dust being drawn into the A/C system.
    With not one good fact at all by TDLR for ever being allowed to be done to any A/C, anywhere. Illegal at the pound for sure.
    With all shown facts that the damages are caused and created by improper installation of filters, facts that warranties are voided instantly by all major manufacturers of all A/C in America, Facts that mold is caused, Facts of excessive running and loss of efficiency very rapidly, All the facts about missing tie-in metal and gap covered over with tape which ended up hanging metal duct with tape.
    Now that is just a few good reasons that millions of Texans do not deserve this to happen to them. Someone find another place that the same set-up of A/C is “legal” for peoples homes. Someone find a place where it is legal at all? It Texas? In America? Anywhere? Dog pounds?
    Then the best question for the places asked about A/C is “Why is it illegal there”?
    The answers to that question by places like License and Regulations offices of “any state” are very good ones to get and prove it has a reason to be called illegal to do to the A/C there.
    This concerns possibly millions of Texans because Texas is the state where lone should not mean this. Other states L&R offices think the air for their people should all have at least the basic rules and safety of CLEAN AIR. Millions in Texas are denied the basics for just one reason so far- “it’s legal in mobile homes only”. I don’t think that should be a good enough reason to do what they have done and allow to get sloppier and sloppier about how it gets done at all. Millions have probably got the set-up of filters that cause damages because of where they are used and impossible to seal system at all. Is that enough reason to think that the Constitution of Texas does not to be pushed aside so this crap can stay legal some how. Keeping it in no other place to investigate except TDLR made it impossible to do anything. No one will even consider a case because TDLR says it is legal to be done in mobile homes “only”.
    TDLR A/C division needs to do a few things different besides quote laws to solve and close cases.
    The companies that did all this damage to my family’s lungs and to my A/C could not be sued.
    It was all called legal in mobile homes “only”. Below are a few of the complaints
    Please help me get a fair trial and a case handled that uses facts and not
    ancient laws to hide behind and answer questions. We breathed insulation while
    all played with law to find the right one for protection.
    There has to be a law somewhere that includes all people in the USA and Texas
    Constitutions. Especially the one for Texas. It is for Texans. Please help. I
    want to take TDLR A/C division to court since they defended the builder and
    installer of the incorrectly installed A/C and duct that caused ten years of
    insulation in our home 24/7.
    Who is responsible for what?
    Lawyers say “it is not my job”, call someone else (Texas Bar). Any Texas lawyer
    so far? Not one will consider a case that TDLR did not say something is wrong.
    When TDLR says it’s legal. ALL LAWYERS are completely eliminated and will not
    dispute the TDLR
    no matter how much they agree it is wrong to do to us.
    TDLR A/C flat “refusal” to even show up to investigate. Case closed with quoted
    administrative laws
    before ever opened. Case pre-decided by them to cover filter issues they thought
    were the cause of so many problems.
    I only did what they said I could do. Complained about filters until true cause
    I have nothing to hide. Laws protect the wrongs here. Why?
    Other states L& R offices would “never make it legal” and would never condone
    for use. The UK laughed at it and would NEVER DO IT TO IT’S CITIZENS.
    Why? Ten years of insulation dust while all stalled and gave lame answers or no
    answers at all most of the time.
    Now most answer with there is a time limit? I have never stopped complaining
    and filing every case I could.
    TDLR stalls and drags it out for no reasons at all except to WASTE TIME.
    Both of the cases I did manage to get open at TDLR were not solved at all. They
    were hidden behind “it is legal in Manufactured homes “only” case closed. I
    clearly proved how wrong just the filter use is and the missing tie-in
    is illegal anywhere. But all overruled with :it is legal in mobile homes “only”
    and that is the way we do it in Texas.
    That quote from TDLR is the one that made me start asking “other places”. TDLR
    was the place I thought every Texan could depend and rely on for the truth. So
    does EVERY OTHER TEXAN too. TDLR is the place that has the right answers for
    anything is what all think. And it should be that way. It was that way. They
    have weaved a bowl of lies here.
    TDLR favorite answer is it’s legal in mobile homes only. Their solution to it
    all was “change the filters every two weeks”. That is two filters that are
    damage causing the way they are told to be used. My family breathed insulation
    while all played with loop holes in the administrative laws being abused. TDLR
    can not find to this day a single thing good about what they stand behind for
    others and call legal in mobile homes only. NOT ONE POSITIVE it can do for
    people places or things? IN ANY WAY AT ALL? They spent a lot more money covering
    it all instead of making simple laws to protect us all. It would NOT COST anyone
    one extra cent to install it all correctly and up to correct codes for homes and
    residences. NOT ONE CENT TO DO IT CORRECTLY! Why will they not do it and just
    keep saying “it is legal in manufactured homes “ONLY”. A simple solution would
    be to send out memo to all A/C saying DO IT RIGHT.
    They all “know” they are doing it wrong now if ever worked on A/C or got
    license for A/C.
    They just also know that the law has their back for doing it wrong ON PURPOSE?
    Can you help with a few of these?
    #1 My family breathed insulation for ten years because we followed the decision
    and laws used for that decision.
    That was 2001 when everyone thought it was nothing but a filter problem.
    #2 A completely missing tie-in in 2010 complaint all answered with “it is legal
    in mobile homes “only”.
    #3 Some of the things that TDLR insisted I complain about, that the filters
    create and cause to happen. Facts all endorsed by administrative laws to hide
    and protect
    created laws not needed by any consumer. Laws of protection that cause problems
    no one will even discuss?
    Provable wrongs all endorsed and stood behind by users of administrative laws?
    A. Mold is caused because of the filters location.
    B. Impossible to have a sealed system that is the law and code, the normal for
    every A/C in America and Texas.
    The manufacturers normal “must haves” are impossible to achieve.
    C. For everywhere in USA except manufactured homes here.
    D. It causes health hazards.
    E. Creates damages to all air handler parts. It looses efficacy.
    F. Waste energy. Runs much longer than what a “normal” A/C ever would.
    G. Can not run as cool because exchanges heat in the “wrong places”.
    H. Impossible to filter the entire system and entire home. Every square inch of
    I. Guaranteed to wear out equipment prematurely.
    J. VOIDS warranties of all major A/C manufacturers.
    That is just a few but laws are quoted to “only”
    cover it all. Saying It is LEGAL In manufactured homes “only”.
    H. All other HVAC laws/codes for every other place A/C is used “forbid it” to be
    able happen or used anywhere.
    It is illegal and system is shut down until installed correctly?
    Not allowed to start up “at all”.
    ANYWHERE ELSE except a new manufactured home that has a law that simply says “it
    is legal” to incorrectly A/C.
    Companies have free for all with a law like that. Employees learn how to do it
    wrong, yet call it legal in Manufactured homes “only”. What do they need to
    worry about the law has their back for completely missing tie-ins and completely
    missing filter assembly and rack. All called legal but in “manufactured homes
    Out of all the air conditioning in this entire world but mostly just USA, a
    manufactured home is the only place
    that is subjected to such injustices and misuse of power. The only defense that
    was ever given all went to Clayton Homes, Action Aire, & TDLR A/C div.
    Not one of them has been able to come up with just a reason ,much less a good
    reason, to use this incorrectly installed A/C system on any A/C equipment,
    home,office,zoo,storeroom,barn, etc.. you name it!
    But all stand behind case closed because “we say so” and “it’s legal” in mobile
    homes “only”.
    Not one lawyer will even consider a case until TDLR says something was done
    wrong here.
    Nice way to make sure it never gets past TDLR for ANY REASON?
    TDHCA CEO agreed with all I had to say. He had to add this for the rest of his
    answer: I am not allowed to have an opinion about anything that has to do with
    A/C in mobile homes. That is the CEO of the mobile home division and
    every square inch of homes he protects?
    #4 I don’t care about all of #3. Filters “only”.
    Someone needs to be responsible for what happened to my family.
    You all can see a few things that following the law “created here”. You all do
    what you want with the #3’s. There are defiantly more things that can be added
    as negatives to #3
    if these are not enough to think about helping out with. A long list of
    negatives caused and created can be obtained from TDLR. The same place that
    “IGNORES” their “OWN CODES AND LAWS OF PROTECTION” but manufactured homes is the
    only place it is legal to ignore basic codes of safety for people, equipment, &
    environment. All in one?
    But “only” one place?
    #5 Those things on #3 made it very easy to quote a law WITHOUT EVER seeing what
    was really here.
    I found out a few things that are true because TDLR A/C division insisted I had
    a filter case to prove wrong first.
    Tim Glover
    5290 Goforth Road
    Kyle, Texas 78640
    P.S. Excess dust is definitely caused by the filters misuse and abuse. That is
    why TDLR A/C division has must quote of:
    “it is normal in manufactured homes in Texas”. Not Any Other License and
    Regulation Office says that?
    It is “never considered normal” in “ANY” code or A/C system set-up in USA.
    PPS. Even more basically, we need to reclaim the vocabulary of the law.
    Rather than speak of Administrative Law, we should say Administrative Power or
    more solidly of
    Extra-legal, Supra-legal, and Consolidated power.
    Then we can at least recognize the dangers that can be caused and created.
    You can see a good example of that here.
    I started this petition because for 14 years the normal ways of complaining and
    filing suits has completely failed.
    My family breathed insulation dust from exterior insulation used for bottom
    seal. It never went away until missing metal used to hang duct was found
    completely missing. Please tell the Texas Senate to make someone responsible for
    what has happened to my family because people worked laws instead of common
    sense and FAIR LAWS.
    You can sign my petition by clicking here.
    This is just a copy of the petition I thought I would use. It is not active yet.
    Can you help me without this? Someone just needs to be responsible for it?
    A little more that needs looking at with open eyes and an open Senate or however
    it gets to be heard by someone. No one else
    will even discuss how bad it is. They all agree but say they can not disagree
    with TDLR judgement of “it is legal in mobile homes only in Texas only.
    Deceptive Trade
    Practices are not right even if there is a law to allow it in one home “only”.
    is ILLEGAL for the rest of America and Texas including all the zoos that use
    HVAC for their Animals. Because it causes health hazards and it damages the HVAC
    system simply by being used. My family breathed insulation for ten years because
    I had to take the answer of TDLR that it was legal and normal for a manufactured
    home to HAVE EXCESS DUST. I found the missing tie-in that was all covered with
    tape to hide the void of metal ten years after TLR decision about all my
    complaining about dust in my NEW HOME. We had insulation in our home 24/7.
    Air Quality = Impossibly to have.
    Health Hazards=GUARANTEED to occur.
    HVAC Manufacturers requirements NOT MET. Warranties instantly voided.
    Insulation in my home for ten years.
    Installed and caused by the HVAC system “not having a metal tie-in to cover a
    total void and then hung metal duct with “nothing but tape”,no metal and
    completely unsealed in any way, from inside ductwork(that is illegal everywhere
    in Texas) except Manufactured Homes ONLY.
    A modular home is “identical” but it has a “different name” placed on it so it
    illegal just like all other HVACs of America and Texas. “Modular”,
    please let TDLR explain why one makes it illegal to have unsafe air and one
    simply ignores standards and gives free for all to A/C installers?
    The Filter Installed in a method that instantly voids “any” major manufacturer
    of HVAC warranty is legal in manufactured homes only.
    Guaranteed to Cause mold and water in places that should never be wet. It should
    be kept dry by proper installation of tie-ins and filtered correctly with
    “SEALED FILTERS” that DO STAY DRY because they must be kept dry to operate
    correctly and how they are designed to do. To trap dust and particles and to be
    That is the filter TDLR insisted the entire case was about in 2001.
    Never one A/C person or case worker from A/C division ever here to find true
    problem. Or ever look at what they had convinced them selves was a filter
    problem. They just knew because they are professionals that with the set-up
    filters it had a long LIST OF NOTHING BUT PROBLEMS that are GUARANTEED TO OCCUR
    with nothing but use of the equipment.
    2010 the true cause of all the complaints was discovered. While repairing
    damages caused by filters misuse and abuse.
    The missing metal at major connection part and connection of duct work to hang
    duct with.
    The bottom of home insulation is sealed very well with EPA road proofing for all
    the insulation.
    That caused the A/C to blow dust up every cut out for A/C, Plumbing,
    Electrical,Appliances, and any extras like cable TV etc. That also caused the
    duct to have a constant draw on taped up gap to let insulation be drawn into the
    system from under floor.
    The dust never stopped or ever went away until this was temporarily repaired
    waiting on TDLR to decide what they were not going to do about anything?
    The dust has never returned and the temporary repair is still there working
    fine and never has needed anything except a filter change about every FOUR
    MONTHS. Just one not two
    like TDLR insist to change two filters every two weeks. Filters that are useless
    and cause troubles if followed the TDLR method.
    Every complaint ever made was answered with “it is legal”. Then the follow
    through of “in mobile homes “ONLY”.
    Why would they them selves put that word there for air quality of the people?
    (all the people)
    WHO CARES? I care about the insulation that we breathed for ten years while all
    made excuses and stalled it out completely because it concerned a law that ends
    with the word “ONLY” tacked on to it?
    Everybody is sure busy with “not being able to have the constitution on their
    side”, when it is needed. Even amendments can’t lie this bad? legally?
    Not one good reason to ever install the four ton HVAC in this method can be
    given by “ANYONE” in A/C trade.
    Including the TDLR “only”.
    Including the constitution and common laws the people should all be entitled to
    equally when it comes to being wrong and misleading for having the laws at all
    about it?
    The insulation is the worst kind because it is made for exterior use.
    All overlooked because of an invented BOGUS LAW?
    All decided “it is legal” in manufactured homes “only”.
    Insulation floating freely in every room of home can never be legal the way it
    was here and never discovered TRUE CAUSE until ten years late because following
    professional advice of the TDLR to change two filters every two weeks? To lower
    the “normal Dust” is what TDLR called it?
    EVERY Manufacturer of HVAC in this country and other countries instantly VOID
    “their” WARRANTY when system is tied in with tape to hang metal duct. EVERY
    Manufacturer of HVAC instantly voids their warranty when filters are not used
    correctly to seal the system and TRAP ALL particles flowing through one end to
    the other of air handler and all duct work.
    The method used by TDLR for manufactured homes “only” might as well not use
    filters at all. It works just as good and safe as fake filtering they do now.
    “MADE” it “LEGAL” for our homes only.
    Not one person or office with TDLR, Not one person HVAC specialist, Not one
    HVAC manufacturer, Not one person in the world can come up with just “ONE” SMALL
    good item it does for any A/C parts or any people living around that
    contaminated A/C system called legal but never in any other home in Texas except
    manufactured home.
    Not one person or office of TDLR ever gave any reason at all to even have it
    made legal to sabotage set-up a families HVAC system. That is the one and true
    description of what is legal here only. Zoos, Self Storage units, anything with
    A/C it is against installation and operation codes. But not here? WHY?
    There are at least 35 very good
    reasons to NEVER use tape inside the ductwork or hand metal duct with aluminum
    tape from inside duct work. (it stays hidden until it is taken apart and seen)
    No seals at any metal connections of running duct under floor all left out too
    Over 35 five destructive and hazardous reasons can be proven not just
    suggested it “could” happen. It happens. NOT ONE POSITIVE COMMENT CAN BE PROVEN
    BY TDLR just to show there MIGHT BE SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT THE “self destruct”
    SET-UP made legal.
    Totally WRONG,Problem causing, Power waste, Parts waste, Hazardous to
    entire home and family. Why do you think a lot of doctors ask: Do you live in a
    mobile home? As PART of their examination to explain the excess humidity in
    lungs. Or just to see if you should get some help eliminating it from your
    lungs. Dr. does not know how it gets there he just knows IT IS THERE for mobile
    homes only.
    It is legal. Nothing more?
    And that answer to solve it all and all bad KNOWN facts is: IT IS LEGAL AND
    TDLR always uses a lot of emphasis on the word “ONLY” when making bogus laws for
    manufactured homes “only”.
    That answer of “it is legal” covered and closed proven health hazards caused by
    the set-up. But the main complaint was the missing tie-in.
    It is legal “covered and closed case for destruction of A/C equipment
    prematurely guaranteed to fail.
    Missing metal section in duct covered over with tape and hidden under floor in
    insulation. All covered with “it is legal in manufactured homes ONLY”. NOT ONE
    ANSWER to very legitimate questions that can be answered very simply with a yes
    or no.
    Can this DAMAGE the HVAC unit? YES
    Can this create health hazards? YES
    That is just two of the many that show the truth.
    Ask TDLR if they can PROVE this set-up is safe for ANY HVAC unit in the
    world if they can. I know they can’t prove it, here in America but have the
    to enforce it without questions by anyone except the family that breathed
    insulation for ten years while TDLR played with books and laws to come up with
    “it is legal” for my family to breath it because we purchased a new manufactured
    home. 1-1/2 years to say :it’s legal”-case closed.
    the set-up that was created for manufactured homes “only” HVAC. Every Reputable
    HVAC country in the entire world does NOT AGREE. They STATE that it is unsafe,
    inefficient, un protective in any way for the air handler or residents.
    My family breathed insulation for ten years while TDLR dodged all the facts of
    the laws they had made legal in manufactured homes “ONLY” HVAC installation.
    THE STANDARDS ( by all A/C Companies) are dismissed COMPLETELY to be able to
    make this a legal law.
    It is impossible to Tie-in Metal duct by covering the open gap with tape from
    inside duct to simply HIDE IT.
    Impossible to Hang duct runs with tape from floor plenum as done here and called
    legal. The tape covered over the dropping gap left from missing metal.
    Hanging duct with tape from the piece of metal that passes through floor(not
    long enough to reach duct work). Total gap where should be solid metal.
    Two 50′ plus full size metal ducts hanging and connected by nothing but tape.
    Legal in mobile homes only is what I was told I could do about it. All
    overlooked because of a filter self destruct set-up that TDLR has getting all
    the attention that should have been given to the true causes of so much dust
    that was insulation particles not just the so called normal dust. 24/7 even when
    A/C not running it still hung in the air and TDLR knew how bad it was by the
    reaction of the mobile home division inspector they sent here in 2001. It
    shocked him. He had no idea what he was looking at but when he called the office
    they told him it was just the filters getting broke in because he showed them
    photos of the dusty particles sitting on a/c parts and home surfaces.
    That is all the A/C division needed to close this case completely and never
    answer up to any of the wrongs that were committed here.
    There just might be a
    whole lot more Texans who have the large A/C that waste energy, gets dirty way
    too fast, causes mold, causes moisture in all the wrong places, exchanges heat
    with unfiltered air on every coil loop and side of assembly metal.
    Impossible to filter the unit or home. Impossible to have a sealed unit.
    A self destruct set-up.
    There should not be a law that let my family breath insulation. I complained as
    high up as possible in the state of Texas. Once TDLR says it’s legal, IT IS
    OVER. For all lawyers
    and state offices for some reason. No common sense allowed or it sure would
    never be legal here just like the rest of our state and country.
    It is legal is the total and ONLY answer for all of what has happened here?
    Any other answers to questions start to show very quickly why there should not
    be a law that has LEGAL IN MANUFACTURED HOMES NEW A/C “ONLY”. The air coming out
    of that HVAC is just as important as every other Texans air. My children and
    grandson breathed this crap. It is important for it not to CAUSE PROBLEMS. Just
    like all others.
    All of you people look at a manufactured home and see it as very cheap?
    This was our new home.
    This was insulation down our lungs 24/7 because every one called it normal and
    legal WITHOUT LOOKING At it in person once. NOT ONCE. 2010 case about discovered
    missing tie-in and
    hanging metal duct with tape, TDLR never sent even mobile home division
    cameraman. No one. Ever.
    I pleaded with inspector to come see it so I could repair it.
    The true and correct laws and CODES for all HVAC installation care needs to be
    followed for us also. The safe ones.
    With NO INSULATION CAUSED and no health hazards created. NO SELF DESTRUCT simply
    running the unit. The normal safe ones that all other Texans and Americans can
    COUNT ON being done right.
    They refused to let me come to
    TDLR meetings about my case at all, even when pleaded with. All decisions and
    made from behind desk and closed doors-The “new” American way?
    Tim Glover
    5290 Goforth Road
    Kyle, Texas

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