Public Citizen recently issued a report detailing “the arbitration trap” consumers face when they sign up for credit card accounts (http://www.citizen.org/publications/) Public Citizen is a non-profit group that focuses, among other things, on eliminating the use of mandatory arbitration clauses in employment and consumer disputes. The report details many of the problems associated with the credit card industry’s use of arbitration. First, consumers are often unaware when they begin using a credit card that any and all disputes they have with the credit issuer will be arbitrated. Second, the arbitration process is confidential. Third, the results of consumer credit arbitrations generally favor the corporate interest. Unfortunately, the report also perpetuates some of the “myths” of arbitration. Perhaps the most astounding claim in the report is that “[a]rbitrators have a strong financial incentive to rule in favor of the companies that file cases against consumers because they can make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year conducting arbitration.” While I have written about my concern that arbitrators paid only by a repeat player company would have an incentive to find in favor of that company, I believe that arbitrators’ professionalism weighs against the belief that arbitrators are biased decision-makers. Further, I know of no arbitrator who makes “hundreds of thousands” of dollars each year. Most arbitrators hear cases only occasionally. That Public Citizen throws out a number like this in its report serves only to undermine the overall credibility of the report. Public Citizen’s claim that “arbitration is shrouded in secrecy” because its arbitrators do not generally issue written decisions also strikes me as an exaggeration. Arbitrators are paid to decide cases. I am a strong advocate for arbitrators writing opinions – however, most parties do not wish to pay for a written decision. Unless companies and consumers are willing to pay for a written decision, it is hard to ask arbitrators to write them. Although the report does focus on the “stunning results that disfavor consumers”, the report would be more influential if that was the major focus. Attempting to discredit the arbitration process with exaggerations and misleading information undermines an otherwise worthy effort.