PayPal arbitration opt-out

Bob Glickstein
[phone number]
[e-mail address]
13 Oct 2012

PayPal, Inc.
Attn: Litigation Department
2211 North First Street
San Jose, CA 95131

To whom it may concern,

I am a PayPal user at the e-mail address above. I do not agree to the Agreement to Arbitrate as delineated in your Amendment to the PayPal User Agreement and Privacy Policy dated Nov 1st, 2012. By this letter I hereby reject it per the opt-out procedure described in section 14.3 (e). Kindly exclude me from the Agreement to Arbitrate.

I further request that you consider dropping the arbitration clause altogether, for all your customers, as a matter of principle. Hand-wringing about frivolous lawsuits notwithstanding, citizen access to the public court system is one of the things that makes America great. I invite you to read my fuller thoughts on the matter at

Timely written acknowledgment of this request sent to the above address would be greatly appreciated.



Bob Glickstein

The Arbitration Fairness Act

Here’s some unexpected good news: the Arbitration Fairness Act has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

As I wrote last September, the mandatory binding arbitration clauses that are ubiquitous in the service contracts we sign are “as un-American a practice as I can imagine” because they deny you your day in court should you have a grievance. It’s a measure of how well the monied interests have us brainwashed that most of us think this is a good thing — there are too many frivolous lawsuits and too many lawyers getting rich, driving up the prices of everything, right? Wrong. That’s just what they want you to think.

So most of us think mandatory binding arbitration clauses are no big deal, if we ever think about them at all, and hardly any of us do, even though we agree to them almost every time we enter a professional relationship with someone: a doctor, a landlord, an employer. Which is why it’s such a surprise to see opposition to this practice getting a little traction in Congress — in these days of global megacrisis piled atop global megacrisis, the phrase “mandatory binding arbitration” isn’t exactly spilling from everyone’s lips.

So extra kudos to the sponsor of the bill, U.S. Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia’s fourth congressional district, for doing what’s right even when all the oxygen has been sucked out of the room. Let’s show him some love in the form of a token contribution to his campaign fund.

The Sue-S-of-A

I’m on a mailing list where, earlier today, a discussion arose about patents, the lawsuits they can spawn, and whether the great early American inventors had to contend with anything like today’s legal environment. One participant made an offhanded comment about “200 years ago, before society became so litigious,” and so I emerged from the woodwork to write the following.

Oh yay, someone triggered one of my favorite rants.

Though it’s common to hear people say so, it’s not true that our society is qualitatively more litigious now than it was in some halcyon past. Americans have been suing the pants off each other since even before we were Americans. A notable feature of colonial America was the litigiousness of its people compared to their British counterparts. (Indeed, compared to all the rest of Christendom.) And though it’s easy reflexively to decry this aspect of American society, I would like to persuade you that this is actually the very root, or at least a reflection, of American greatness.

What does it mean for a citizenry to be litigious? Does it mean that they have more grievances against one another than elsewhere? Almost certainly not; neighbors have had the same complaints about each other throughout recorded history. Does it mean they’re more vindictive toward one another? More spiteful?

No. It means that when disputes arise, even the lowliest commoner has such faith in the law and such equal access to it that he readily turns to the courts for redress. Not to individual reprisal. Not to generational vendettas. Not to local strongmen. The law. In America the courts are and always have been accessible to everyone who wishes to bring business before them. This was not true in 18th-century England and is still more true in America than in most other places. So when Americans disagree and can’t settle the difference themselves, they sue each other, and they trust the justice that’s dispensed, and they abide by it, and it’s the very height of civilization to do so.

Obviously it’s better when people can work things out themselves, but they can’t always. What better next step is there (when the issue is not frivolous) than to sue? Why must there be such a strong negative connotation attached to it? It’s your right to sue that keeps honest those people who might otherwise have inordinate power over you: your doctor, your accountant, the makers of your car, of your food, the executives of companies in which you own shares, etc.

We’ve been convinced to equate the right to sue with frivolous, wasteful lawsuits that line the pockets of greedy litigators. It’s only because of that association that we think nothing of routinely waiving that right. It is now ubiquitous for corporations to insist on binding-arbitration clauses in contracts with individuals who are all but powerless to negotiate them away. This is as un-American a practice as I can imagine and I urge everyone to agitate against it.