This article was originally published by Tyler Durden at ZeroHedge.
After receiving more than 75,000 individual complaints that its Alex-powered Echo devices were spying on them, Amazon has abandoned its policy that such complaints must be resolved outside the court system via secretive arbitration proceedings, and will instead allow customers to file lawsuits, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In other words, “so sue us.”
The company quietly changed its terms of service to file lawsuits, as the company already faces at least three class-action suits – including one brought May 18 alleging that the company’s Echo devices were recording people without permission.
The retail giant made the change after plaintiffs’ lawyers flooded Amazon with more than 75,000 individual arbitration demands on behalf of Echo users. That move triggered a bill for tens of millions of dollars in filing fees, according to lawyers involved, payable by Amazon under its own policies.
Amazon’s decision to drop its arbitration requirement is the starkest example yet of how companies are responding to plaintiffs’ lawyers pushing the arbitration system to its limits. -WSJ
Arbitration agreements are typically buried in the fine print in order to avoid costly litigation, while many employers use them for adjudicating issues such as discrimination complaints or pay disputes. The right to require arbitration has been repeatedly upheld by the US Supreme Court.
During private arbitration, less evidence is presented and there are no appeals – with companies typically agreeing to pay for initial filing fees ranging between $100 and $2,000. The proceedings are managed by companies that charge an additional fee, while the arbitrators themselves will of course bill for their time.
According to consumer advocates and plaintiffs’ lawyers, arbitration usually makes it financially worthwhile for individuals to pursue claims, while companies say it’s a fair process.
“Companies thought they were getting out of liability altogether,” with arbitration clauses, says Chicago lawyer Travis Lenkner, whose firm filed the majority of the Amazon claims. “Now they’re seeing exactly what they bargained for, and they don’t like it.”
The mass-arbitration filings have forced companies to scramble. Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc., and TurboTax maker Intuit Inc. have all tried to avoid paying filing fees or direct claims back into court after being hit in recent years with thousands of arbitration claims.
Few companies so far seem ready to scrap arbitration outright like Amazon.
Instead, some are requiring employees to speak to a lawyer at the company before filing an arbitration claim. One arbitration provider created a mass-claim protocol that calls for handling a few test cases before the full filing fees come due. -WSJ
Claims against Amazon began pouring in after it was revealed in 2019 that Alexa devices were storing recordings of users without their consent. When consumers filed for class-action lawsuits claiming that the recordings violated consent laws, Amazon was able to successfully argue that the claims belonged in arbitration. In early 2020, Keller Lenkner and other firms filed tens of thousands of individual arbitration demands.
One year later, Amazon’s attorneys notified plaintiffs’ attorneys of their recent change in terms of service – eliminating a 350-word arbitration requirement and replacing it with two sentences that say disputes can be brought in a state or federal court near Amazon’s Washington state headquarters.
Local attorneys are surely buzzing with excitement.
Go figure & you paid them including your family DNA tree & Ann Margret is not coming? Take a bite of the shit samwich.
Quit buying products through Amazon….
My friend had a verbal dispute with his girl friend a few years ago and Alexa called 911 on them and the police responded. I told hinm to smash that Alexa into a million pieces and he did. What did you guys think it was for?
Does anyone actually think anything connected to the internet, especially Alexa type thingies, is private?
For the umpteenth time, I don’t believe that the 99% are capable of self-ownership.
I think that several of these inputs, working in tandem, would also be able to spy upon your neighbors, and other disinterested, third parties.
When I was a kid you actually had to stand up and walk 5 steps and turn a knob to scroll through the 3 channels of shit on the Tele. Imagine….. If you don’t like the idea of others intruding in your space, don’t invite them in…
Apparently Alexa owners didn’t watch A Space Odessa 2001.
People are too lazy to even research, without having to ask Quora the most worthless questions ever thought of. Maybe worse, most of those are dumb kid’s worthless home work assignments.