Skip to main content

Forced arbitration bans Google Fiber customers from filing class-action lawsuits

alphabet second quarter 2016 earnings android lollipop at google feat
Google has unsurprisingly taken notes from the business practices of competitors like Comcast and Time Warner Cable, and has decided to revise its terms of service for Google Fiber Residential. The changes took place last week, and essentially nuke the ability of Fiber customers to sue Google in a major court of law. Instead, complaints are now handled through individual arbitration unless they deal specifically with “bodily injury.”

In other words, you’re not going to see a class action lawsuit filed against Google by one individual or a group of customers over the Fiber service. Instead, customers can either deal with arbitration, or take their complaints to small claims court. The terms of service also note that both Google and its customers can seek an individualized injunction or a temporary restraining order while waiting on the arbitration.

However, the government is not exempt from taking action. According to the terms of service, customers have the freedom to approach federal, state, or local agencies with their complaints. In turn, if law permits, these agencies can file a lawsuit against Google on the customer’s behalf. That said, Fiber customers aren’t necessarily on their own after signing up with Google’s new gigabit TV/internet service.

“You agree that, by entering into this agreement, we are each waiving the right to a trial in a court or to participate in a class or representative action. The Federal Arbitration Act governs the interpretation and enforcement of this arbitration provision,” the terms state. Google adds that both parties must provide each other in writing their intentions to seek arbitration of a dispute.

Unfortunately, the process of arbitration may not be free for the unhappy customer. If the claim is valued at $75,000 or less, Google will pay the fees to the American Arbitration Association (AAA) or qualified substitute. If the complaint is valued between $75,000 and $300,000, then the customer’s share in fees is up to $200. Customers may have to pay more than that if the complaint exceeds $300,000, and if the arbitrator believes that the complaint is frivolous or conjured up for an improper purpose, customers may be forced to reimburse Google for the prepaid fees too.

But here’s a bit of good news. Fiber customers not wanting to be bound by the arbitration and class-action waiver provisions in the Google Fiber terms of service can opt out by filling out this form. The catch is that it must be done within 30 days of the date that the customer agreed to the Fiber terms “unless a longer period is required by applicable law.” Moreover, if Google makes additional changes to the arbitration language in the Fiber terms of service, customers can fill out a change dispute form to stick with the current language … if they weren’t able to opt out of the forced arbitration, that is.

Google sent out emails to its Fiber customers earlier this week notifying them of the change. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance many customers don’t understand what the changes mean. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau discovered back in March 2015 that a mere 7 percent of the individuals surveyed who were bound by an arbitration agreement through a pay-per-month service actually understood what the terms of service actually meant. The rest were seemingly left in the dark.

Editors' Recommendations

Kevin Parrish
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then…
GTX 970 class-action lawsuit website now live for those owed $30 under settlement
nvidias false gtx 970 advertising leads to class action suit

The official website for the class-action lawsuit against Nvidia's invalid claims about the GTX 970 graphics card's memory capacity is now live. If you are an affected consumer, you can visit to make a claim, opt-out of the settlement -- perhaps to pursue your own legal action -- or make comments or objections to the lawsuit in general.

While Nvidia's GTX 970 may have been one of the most popular graphics cards ever, it isn't without its issues. One of them is the card's memory capacity. Though advertised as a 4GB card, close examination after release revealed the GTX 970 in fact splits its memory up into two portions, one totaling 3.5GB, and the other half a gigabyte. This split slightly hampers performance relative to what would be possible with a more typical 4GB configuration.

Read more
Google’s Fiber Phone brings the magic of Google Voice into your home
Fiber TV box

Thought landlines were dead? Think again. Thanks to a new service from Google Fiber, the seemingly antiquated home phone is coming to the 21st century. After tests were conducted near the beginning of 2016, Google has officially announced the Fiber Phone, and here's everything you need to know about it.

Updated on 03-30-2016 by Andy Boxall: Added in official details regarding Google Fiber Phone

Read more
AT&T dodges data-throttling class-action lawsuit
att broadband expansion news new at amp t logo in dallas  tx

A California judge decided that the class-action lawsuit filed against AT&T for throttling unlimited data will not be allowed to proceed. According to AT&T, customers should only have their complaints heard on an individual basis through arbitration, and it seems as though Judge Edward Chen from the U.S. District Court in Northern California agrees with the company.

Many customers, however, suggest that arbitration would violate the First Amendment right to petition a court for a grievance. Arbitration would allow claims to be brought to the small claims court, but some suggest that the small claims court is not an adequate forum.

Read more