Fiber customers have two months to opt out of binding arbitration clause.
Google Fiber’s new terms add a clause familiar to subscribers of other large Internet service providers: customers who want to sue the company must now instead submit to arbitration.
The Google Fiber terms were updated last week with a note that they now “require the use of binding arbitration to resolve disputes rather than jury trials or class actions.” While the clause allows cases in small claims court, it otherwise forces customers to waive the right to bring legal actions against the ISP. Arbitration must be sought on an individual basis, as the clause also prevents class arbitration.
The previous terms of service did not have the binding arbitration clause, though they did limit Google Fiber’s liability to the amount customers pay to use the services. (The Consumerist published an article on the change yesterday.)
There is a way for customers to opt out of the change, but they must act fast.
“According to the terms, the new agreement kicks in within 30 days of accepting the new language. Customers can, however, during that time period use this online form (you must be logged in to your Fiber account to access it) to opt out of this change and future changes to the arbitration agreement,” The Consumerist noted.
Google has told us that customers have a total 60 days to opt out. An e-mail sent to customers on June 14 says the new terms of service will apply unless they call to cancel service within 30 days. If customers do nothing, they will have “accepted” the terms at that 30-day mark. After that, customers who remain with Google Fiber have another 30 days to opt out of the new terms using the online form.
AT&T also has a binding arbitration clause for its wireless business and recently used it to prevent a class action over the company’s throttling of unlimited data plans. Customers argued that the arbitration cause would violate their First Amendment right to petition a court for a redress of grievances, but a US District Court judge sided with AT&T.
AT&T has not been able to avoid actions from the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission in the unlimited data throttling case. Similarly, Google Fiber customers’ best chance of seeking redress on a collective basis will likely be to file complaints with federal agencies, which could then fine or sue the company.
Editor’s note: This article originally stated that customers are being given 30 days to opt out of the new terms of service. We’ve updated that with the correct timeline provided by Google Fiber.