The American Bankers Association joined two other trade groups in urging the Office of Management and Budget not to approve a survey on credit card arbitration agreements proposed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The other two associations are the Consumer Bankers Association and the Financial Services Roundtable.
Originally proposed in June 2013, the national telephone survey would seek input from 1,000 credit card holders on their knowledge of mandatory arbitration agreements and whether that knowledge influenced their choice of credit card.
Although acknowledging improvements made since the survey’s initial proposal, the letter asks that the survey not be approved because “it will not produce information of practical utility, remains materially flawed, and is inconsistent with the statutory mandate.”
The letter stated that most of the information sought by the survey is already available and that a telephone survey would not collect information adequately, suggesting consumer focus groups as a “more effective means” for gathering information. The survey’s questions also might bias respondents toward preconceived conclusions, the letter said.
The survey is part of the CFPB’s larger study of mandatory pre-dispute arbitration agreements for credit cards ordered by Section 1028 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Financial Protection Act, which authorizes the CFPB to “prohibit or impose conditions or limitations on the use of” mandatory arbitration agreements if it finds that doing so is “in the public interest and for the protection of consumers.”
As currently proposed, the survey will explore two points, according to the filing in the Federal Register: the role of dispute resolution provisions in consumer card acquisition decisions and consumers’ default assumptions regarding their dispute resolution rights vis-à-vis their credit card issuers.
The survey will not gather data regarding respondents’ post-fact satisfaction with arbitration or litigation proceedings, given the difficulty in finding consumers that have had personal experience with both forums.
The CFPB revised its initial survey based on comments it received, including a letter from the same three groups, and released an updated version in May.
The CFPB originally asked for comments on the scope and methodology of the proposed survey in April 2012. Preliminary results of the survey were made public in December 2013.