Company policy forbids advocacy group from advertising about forced arbitration

 WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 25, 2015:  The moment you sign up for the music streaming service Spotify, you lose some very important rights – and Spotify wants to bury  what you’re losing in the fine print.

Spotify is among the many companies from AT&T to Citibank to Comcast that impose on their customers a pernicious practice known as forced arbitration.  As AFJ explains in an ad it sought to place on Spotify that the company declined to run:

We all “click to agree” to the fine print so we can use great services like Spotify. But did you know that countless companies – including Spotify – use our clicks to take away our right to hold them accountable? If you believe Spotify overcharges you or sells your data, you have to take your case to a decision-maker at a firm they choose – not a judge or jury. And it’s virtually impossible to appeal. Join Alliance for Justice at afj.org – and tell Spotify to give back our rights. Enough with the fine print, we just want to enjoy the music.

You can listen to the full ad at www.afj.org/spotify

“Clicking ‘sign up’ shouldn’t mean Spotify listeners lose their chance to stand up for their rights in court,” said AFJ President Nan Aron.  “We believe consumers deserve to know what they’re giving up in the fine print.”

Spotify specifies that when listeners click “sign up,” they agree to its terms and conditions – found on a separate page of the Spotify website.  Buried in the fine print of those “terms and conditions of use” is a forced arbitration clause.  In addition, if Spotify violates the rights of thousands, even millions of its listeners, they can’t band together to seek justice.

“Being forced into arbitration is like playing a baseball game in which the other team hires and fires the umpires,” said AFJ President Nan Aron.  “It’s no wonder one study found that arbitrators at one firm ruled against consumers 94 percent of the time.”

An extensive study released by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau earlier this month found that three of four consumers did not know if they were subject to a forced arbitration clause.

AFJ wants to get the word out about Spotify’s forced arbitration clause –through a petition on AFJ’s website and a coordinated social media campaign, using the hashtag #tellspotify.

Spotify is not the only company to impose forced arbitration.  Other online services like Instagram and Hulu apply the same practice.  And it’s spreading beyond consumer contracts into employment agreements, undermining some of our most cherished civil rights laws. But there is potential for improvement.  General Mills, for example, removed forced arbitration from its terms and agreements, demonstrating that it is possible for Spotify to follow suit.  It’s all explained in AFJ’s short documentary Lost in the Fine Print.

“Spotify bills itself as ‘music for everyone,’” said Aron.  “It’s time for Spotify to live up to that promise and be a leader in the entertainment community. We encourage Spotify to rethink its use of forced arbitration in its terms and conditions and give its listeners back their rights.”

Alliance for Justice, www.afj.org believes that all Americans have the right to secure justice in the courts and to have their voices heard when government makes decisions that affect their lives. We are a national association of over 100 organizations, representing a broad array of groups committed to progressive values and the creation of an equitable, just, and free society. Through our justice programs, we lead the progressive community in the fight for a fair judiciary, and through our advocacy programs, we help nonprofits and foundations to realize their advocacy potential.