In a rather unusual move, American Express is letting cardholders opt-out of the mandatory arbitration provision in their credit card agreements.
The rejection notice (a sample is here) must be mailed by February 15, 2013 or 45 days after you make your first purchase with the card, whichever is later.
They are also instituting a mediation program to resolve disputes. But, the new agreement requires if you are not able to resolve the problem with customer service, that you file a notice with them before resorting to mediation, arbitration or court.
Why did AMEX decide to let you opt-out of required arbitration?
One consumer lawyer put it this way: “Just another attempt to make the arbitration provision bulletproof. What could be fairer than giving consumers the choice to opt-out?”
Everyone knows that opt-out rates are very low, and since there is a relatively short deadline, few people are likely to do it. The result: virtually all cardholders will be left without the legal remedy of going to court over a major problem (or be part of a class action for smaller but widespread issues).