With friends like these …

Today's LA Times has another story on the Fiat-Chrysler stratagem of offering customers a "friends and family" discount in return for which consumers sign away their right to sue the automaker by agreeing to arbitration. (We had a short blog entry on the subject last week.)

The story points out that most consumers can get just as good a deal without signing an agreement with the manufacturer. The beauty of the transaction for the manufacturer is that it gets a direct arbitration agreement with the consumer, which doesn't usually happen when consumers buy a car from a dealer, and it doesn't even have to give consumers a very good deal to get it.

The company's justification is that these are special discounts for "close friends," and, after all, close friends shouldn't be suing each other. And anyway, the consumer doesn't have sign up for the discount: "No one's holding a gun to your head," according to a company spokesman.

Let us hope consumers take those words to heart and pass up this opportunity to sell their birthright for a mess of pottage.


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