The AAA provides for fair administration of consumer disputes—and will exercise its authority to decline administration of arbitration demands where an arbitration clause contains material violations of the AAA Consumer Due Process Protocol, developed in 1998 in cooperation with representatives from government agencies, consumer interest groups, education institutions, and businesses.
The goal of the Protocol, in concert with the AAA Consumer Arbitration Rules, is to ensure evenhandedness in the administration of consumer-disputes resolution. These rules apply only to disputes regarding a product or service for personal or household use.
The AAA does not administer consumer debt collection arbitrations as per the Notice on Consumer Debt Collection Arbitrations.
Parties to an AAA consumer arbitration case may elect to attempt case resolution themselves by submitting settlement offers and counter offers through an online portal. This online settlement tool is part of AAA WebFile®. Parties, pro se individuals, and party representatives with case access can utilize the tool at any time. (Please note that this tool is available only to consumer cases with two parties.)
Parties may submit either lump sum or itemized offers and/or counter offers up until the case is closed. A comments section allows the parties to provide an explanation and additional terms and conditions for their offers, including nonmonetary terms.
A party may retract an offer and/or counter offer at any time prior to the other party’s acceptance or rejection of it. If the parties reach a resolution using the tool, the AAA® case administrator will be notified and will contact the parties shortly after.
The online settlement tool is available for use while the arbitration proceeds, or the arbitration may be stayed by party agreement while parties try online settlement. Neither the AAA nor the arbitrator reviews any of the online communications between parties.
The online Registry was created to provide access to information about the AAA’s consumer arbitration services. The Registry lists businesses whose consumer arbitration clauses have been submitted for review by the AAA and determined to substantially and materially comply with the due process standards of the AAA Consumer Due Process Protocol.
Parties can search businesses by name to determine if the AAA has reviewed their consumer arbitration clause and if the AAA will administer their case, as well as to view the approved arbitration clause.
If a business has not registered its consumer clause prior to the filing of a consumer case, the AAA requires that it do so at that time. For more information about the Consumer Clause Registry, please see R-12 of the Consumer Arbitration Rules.
The AAA maintains an online Consumer and Employment Arbitration Statistics report based on AAA consumer cases closed within the last five years. This report is made available pursuant to state statutes such as the California Code of Civil Procedure §1281.96 and Maryland Commercial Law §§ 14-3901 to 3905 and updated quarterly, as required by law.
The Searle Civil Justice Institute Report on Consumer Arbitration surveyed AAA consumer arbitration cases for costs, speed, and outcomes of consumer arbitrations.
To watch Law Professor C. R. Drahozal speak about the Searle Report, click here.