Many small businesses are adding mandatory arbitration clauses to their routine customer contracts. Reason: You avoid long, costly court battles, and customers get a quick, fair way to settle disputes. Customers who still want to sue after an unsuccessful arbitration have weaker claims. Arbitration rulings are usually reached in 10 to 30 days. Arbiters weigh business ethics along with state, local and federal laws. You stand a good chance if you show the customer is being unreasonable. But don’t arbitrate a weak case. Some watchdog groups complain that mandatory arbitration denies consumers their legal rights, and they’re always on the lookout for examples.
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