Author Topic: Italian Color v. American Express  (Read 3903 times)

Juana

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Italian Color v. American Express
« on: February 26, 2013, 06:45:42 pm »
This Supreme Court Case Could Give Corporations Even More Power to Screw Consumers
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On Wednesday, the US Supreme Court will hear a case that has the potential to give big corporations free rein to write contracts that prevent consumers from ever holding them accountable for fraud, antitrust violations, or any other abuses of consumer and worker protection laws now on the books. It's a case that hasn't gotten much attention, but should.

The case, Italian Color v. American Express, was brought by a California Italian restaurant and a group of other small businesses that tried to sue the credit card behemoth for antitrust violations. They allege Amex used its monopoly power to force them to accept its bank-issued knock-off credit cards as a condition of taking regular, more elite American Express cards—and then charging them 30 percent higher fees for the privilege.

The small businesses claims were pretty small individually, not more than around $5,000 per shop. So, to make their case worth enough for a lawyer to take it, they banded together to file a class action on behalf of all small businesses affected by the practice. In response, Amex invoked the small print in its contract with them: a clause that not only banned the companies from suing individually but also prevented them from bringing a class action. Instead, Amex insisted the contract required each little businesses to submit to the decision of a private arbitrator paid by Amex, and individually press their claims. (Arbitration is heavily stacked in favor of the big companies, as you can read more about here and here.)

The restaurants estimated, with good evidence, that because of the market research required to press an antitrust case, arbitration would cost each of them almost $1 million to collect a possible maximum of $38,000, making it impossible to bring their claims at all. After a lot of litigation, the little guys prevailed in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that the arbitration clause was unconscionable because it prevented the plaintiffs from having their claims heard in any forum. The court said the arbitration contract should be invalidated and that the class action should go forward in a regular courtroom. (Sonia Sotomayor sat on one of the appeals before heading to the high court and is recusing herself from the case as a result.) Now Amex is appealing and arguing that some of the high court's recent decisions in favor of big companies mean it has every right to use contracts to deprive the little guys of access to the legal system.

Consumer advocates are worried about how the court's going to decide this case. Under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, the court has been especially amenable to the sorts of arguments Amex is making, and the results have been pretty damaging to consumers. The Alliance for Justice has a list here of some of the types of cases that were thrown out after the court's last pro-business decision about mandatory arbitration, which allowed companies to use arbitration clauses to trump state consumer and worker protection laws. It's not pretty.

If the court rules in favor of Amex, big companies will essentially be able to immunize themselves from any legal accountability, simply by forcing customers and employees to sign a contract to get a job or a cellphone or a bank account. Civil and consumer rights laws will stay on the books, but big companies will be able to ignore them.
I can't.
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The Good Reverend Roger

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Re: Italian Color v. American Express
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2013, 06:51:57 pm »
How is this unexpected?
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The Good Reverend Roger

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Re: Italian Color v. American Express
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2013, 06:52:57 pm »
Try reading the user agreement on any Microsoft product.
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- TGRR, shaming himself forever, 7/8/2017

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- TGRR, raising the bar at work.

LMNO

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Re: Italian Color v. American Express
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2013, 06:53:07 pm »
IS THEY PEOPLES, OR IS THEY AINT?

Ah, the joys of the Free Market™.  You have the choice to use their service and not complain, or not use their service and go out of business.

Juana

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Re: Italian Color v. American Express
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2013, 06:55:44 pm »
How is this unexpected?
It's not, because, well. It's America, and America in the 21st century, no less. It still makes me angry as fuck, though.
"I dispose of obsolete meat machines.  Not because I hate them (I do) and not because they deserve it (they do), but because they are in the way and those older ones don't meet emissions codes.  They emit too much.  You don't like them and I don't like them, so spare me the hysteria."

Juana

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Re: Italian Color v. American Express
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2013, 06:56:55 pm »
IS THEY PEOPLES, OR IS THEY AINT?

Ah, the joys of the Free Market™.  You have the choice to use their service and not complain, or not use their service and go out of business.
What a system!
"I dispose of obsolete meat machines.  Not because I hate them (I do) and not because they deserve it (they do), but because they are in the way and those older ones don't meet emissions codes.  They emit too much.  You don't like them and I don't like them, so spare me the hysteria."

Cain

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Re: Italian Color v. American Express
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2013, 06:57:39 pm »
Try reading the user agreement on any Microsoft product.

Incidentally, Microsoft have essentially been given a digital Letter of Marque by the Justice Department, recently.

Microsoft techs seize and shut down domains spreading malware...and a lot of people's perfectly innocent sites besides.  Justice Department doesn't care, because, well, it's Microsoft.

Same principle here.  Justice Department doesn't care, Amex is worth $14 billion and is one of the world's top 20 companies.  They probably farm out Justice Department accounts to Amex consultants.

tyrannosaurus vex

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Re: Italian Color v. American Express
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2013, 06:58:47 pm »
Also, the dairy industry would like to add shit like aspartame to your milk, and not have to include it in a list of ingredients:

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/02/20/2013-03835/flavored-milk-petition-to-amend-the-standard-of-identity-for-milk-and-17-additional-dairy-products
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LMNO

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Re: Italian Color v. American Express
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2013, 07:04:01 pm »
Try reading the user agreement on any Microsoft product.

Incidentally, Microsoft have essentially been given a digital Letter of Marque by the Justice Department, recently.

Microsoft techs seize and shut down domains spreading malware...and a lot of people's perfectly innocent sites besides.  Justice Department doesn't care, because, well, it's Microsoft.

Same principle here.  Justice Department doesn't care, Amex is worth $14 billion and is one of the world's top 20 companies.  They probably farm out Justice Department accounts to Amex consultants.

Not to conflate, but I feel like there's a connection between this bullshittery and the Slavery problem, no?

The Good Reverend Roger

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Re: Italian Color v. American Express
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2013, 07:08:20 pm »
Try reading the user agreement on any Microsoft product.

Incidentally, Microsoft have essentially been given a digital Letter of Marque by the Justice Department, recently.

Microsoft techs seize and shut down domains spreading malware...and a lot of people's perfectly innocent sites besides.  Justice Department doesn't care, because, well, it's Microsoft.

Same principle here.  Justice Department doesn't care, Amex is worth $14 billion and is one of the world's top 20 companies.  They probably farm out Justice Department accounts to Amex consultants.

Not to conflate, but I feel like there's a connection between this bullshittery and the Slavery problem, no?

Of course there is.  There is power, and there is weakness.

You will do as they say or you will starve.  Because "lawful" is rich and powerful, and "fucked in the eyesocket and LIKE it"  is poor and weak.

" It's just that Depeche Mode were a bunch of optimistic loveburgers."
- TGRR, shaming himself forever, 7/8/2017

 "Billy, when I say that ethics is our number one priority and safety is also our number one priority, you should take that to mean exactly what I said. Also quality. That's our number one priority as well. Don't look at me that way, you're in the corporate world now and this is how it works."
- TGRR, raising the bar at work.

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Re: Italian Color v. American Express
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2013, 08:34:38 pm »
IS THEY PEOPLES, OR IS THEY AINT?

Ah, the joys of the Free Market™.  You have the choice to use their service and not complain, or not use their service and go out of business.

Dunno. What would happen to me if I killed one?
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Re: Italian Color v. American Express
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2013, 08:42:08 pm »
You'd get deported to Israel and pressed into manual labor on a kibbutz where you'd work 12 hours a day and sing songs every evening with all the other Kibbutzers about how wonderful Jewish Life is?

But only if you have some type of palestinian ancestry somewhere...

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Re: Italian Color v. American Express
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2013, 03:25:11 am »
Also, the dairy industry would like to add shit like aspartame to your milk, and not have to include it in a list of ingredients:

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/02/20/2013-03835/flavored-milk-petition-to-amend-the-standard-of-identity-for-milk-and-17-additional-dairy-products

I'm exceptionally tired, and having a little trouble parsing this:
Quote
Therefore, while the milk standard of identity in § 131.110 only provides for the use of “nutritive sweetener” in an optional characterizing flavor, milk may contain a characterizing flavor that is sweetened with a non-nutritive sweetener if the food's label bears a nutrient content claim (e.g., “reduced calorie”) and the non-nutritive sweetener is used to add sweetness to the product so that it is not inferior in its sweetness property compared to its standardized counterpart. However, IDFA and NMPF argue that nutrient content claims such as “reduced calorie” are not attractive to children, and maintain that consumers can more easily identify the overall nutritional value of milk products that are flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners if the labels do not include such claims. Further, the petitioners assert that consumers do not recognize milk—including flavored milk—as necessarily containing sugar. Accordingly, the petitioners state that milk flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners should be labeled as milk without further claims so that consumers can “more easily identify its overall nutritional value.”

Are they really asserting that consumers can "more easily identify" the nutritional value of a bottle of milk that does not list what is in it, as opposed to a bottle that does?

I just can't - how does someone actually stand up and without an ounce of shame present that "argument" as being perfectly valid?
I want to vomit.  More specifically, I want to vomit on the person who proposed that shit.

LMNO

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Re: Italian Color v. American Express
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2013, 01:15:50 pm »
I think a more concerning question is, "why were they sweetening milk in the first place?"

However, if they're talking about "flavored" milks, like chocolate, stawberry, etc, then I would suspect that it should be immediately obvious that the shit is bad for you, no matter what they're sweetening it with.

Cain

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Re: Italian Color v. American Express
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2013, 01:18:31 pm »
Because milk tastes bad unless it's sugary sweet.  Clearly.

He says as he takes another sip from his can of Red Bull...