WHAT IS ARBITRATION?

 1.      What is arbitration, and why is it required?

 Arbitration is an efficient way for our customers to settle disputes that are not resolved during the routine customer service process. It gives consumers another option in the dispute resolution process to help them resolve issues specific to their individual experience. Other options include American Express’s customer service staff and Ombudsman, and the financial industry’s Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI),.

 Arbitration provides an efficient form of resolution that does not necessarily require a lawyer—and therefore they can avoid expensive legal fees.

 2.      How is this different from the current settlement process?

 Cardmembers will continue to have several dispute resolution options at their disposal, including American Express’s customer service staff and ombudsman, the financial industry’s Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI), or Small Claims Court.

 3.      Do these changes affect all cardmembers – business and personal – plus banking clients?

 The introduction of the arbitration clause affects all consumer and small business cardmember contracts / terms of agreement for our credit products.

 

HOW DOES IT WORK?

 4.      How does arbitration work?

The arbitration process will work as follows:

a)      To initiate an arbitration hearing, customers can request by telephone or email a “Notice of Submission to Arbitration” from the ADR Institute of Canada .  phone: 416-487-4733, fax: 416-487-4429, toll free: 1-877-475-4353, email: admin@adrcanada.ca

b)      A neutral arbitrator will be appointed by the ADR Institute of Canada;

c)      Arbitration hearings will take place in the province or territory of the card member’s residence;

d)      The arbitration process will be governed by rules set by the ADR Institute of Canada, not by American Express;

e)      American Express will be responsible for paying the arbitrator and arbitration fees even in the event the cardmember’s arbitration is unsuccessful and so long as the arbitrator determines that the card member’s claim was not frivolous and vexatious;

f)      Notwithstanding the arbitration clause, individuals will have the right to pursue their claim individually in small claims court.

 5.      Who arbitrates between Amex and the client?

 A neutral arbitrator will be appointed by the ADR Institute of Canada.

      a.      Are they independent?

     Yes, a neutral arbitrator is appointed by the ADR Institute of Canada

b.      What is the process?

      American Express’s arbitration provision sets out a clearly defined dispute resolution process that is both reasonable and specifically:

Þ       To initiate an arbitration hearing, customers can request by telephone or email a “Notice of Submission to Arbitration” from the ADR Institute of Canada.  phone: 416-487-4733, fax: 416-487-4429, toll free: 1-877-475-4353, email: admin@adrcanada.ca

Þ       A neutral arbitrator will be appointed by the ADR Institute of Canada,

Þ       Arbitration hearings will take place in the province or territory of your residence,

Þ       The arbitration process will be governed by rules set by the ADR Institute of Canada, not by American Express,

Þ       American Express will be responsible for paying the arbitrator and arbitration fees even in the event your arbitration is unsuccessful and so long as the arbitrator determines that your claim was not frivolous and vexatious.

Þ       Notwithstanding the arbitration clause, individuals will have the right to pursue their claim individually in small claims court.          

 c.       Will my lawyer be able to represent me before the arbitrator?

         Yes.

6.      Why is Amex moving to this type of dispute resolution process?

 The decision was driven largely by our desire to provide a faster and more cost-effective approach to dispute resolution for our customers and that is convenient and fair to both parties, and legally binding.  

7.      How does this compare to what your competitors are currently doing? 

We can’t speak to what our competitors are doing.  However, we can tell you that based on our experience in the United States, customers have responded positively to this initiative given that it provides a fast, fair and cost-effective alternative to potentially expensive and lengthy court actions.

8.      Is this change a Canada-only initiative? If so, why?

 No. In the United States , American Express has included an arbitration provision in its cardmember agreements since 1999.

9.      What type of reaction do you expect from cardmembers?

Based on our experience in the United States , customers have responded positively to this initiative given that it provides a fast, fair and cost-effective alternative to potentially expensive and lengthy court actions.

 10. What does this provision mean for cardmembers who want to sue merchants?

 This provision does not prevent a cardmember from suing a merchant.  If American Express is brought into the lawsuit, then it has the option to go to arbitration.

 11. Does this means of resolution include collection cases?

Yes, the arbitration provision would allow the customer and the company the option of resolving issues through arbitration in both dispute and collection cases.  This does not mean however that we or our customers will elect to use arbitration for all cases for which it could be used.  The extent to which we and our customers elect to use arbitration and for what kinds of cases will be determined over time.