This great organization has been around for decades. For a reasonable fee (almost always $200) you can present your case and get a quick and fair decision. There is usually no limit to what you can sue for as in the case of Small Claims courts (keep it simple--a silly or frivolous claim will not do well for you with the arbitrator--they can sense honest and sincere claimants). The procedure is as follows; you present your case and evidence by mail or email. So does your opponent. The AAA arbitrator, who is usually a lawyer or paralegal, calls you on the phone for a conference (which he or she preschedules) to hear the facts if he or she deems it necessary. Your arbitrator usually is in a different state-which is good-so he or she will be unfamiliar with your opponent or his business, which local judges may be, and which can work to your disadvantage for obvious reasons. You do not have to hang around the courtroom all day, nor face your opponent. A decision is rendered by return email. Both parties must comply. If not, the decision can be presented to your local court and a judgment will be entered againt the losing party. This site wholeheartedly recommends the "AAA." Below are tabs to access the AAA website, the arbitration form and the rates and rules.
Do not fear the arbitrator. They are almost always as- or more-qualified than a judge in a busy courtroom would be. They are difficult to "influence" because, as in the case of judges, they do not get to see the same familiar faces over and over again. Sometimes Small Claims Courts (New York City for one) offer free binding arbitration for cases that are filed there, but you must file first and pay a small fee. Your opponent may agree to arbitration the day you appear in court, but does not have to. He should! The cost is more than a Small Claims case would be, but it is well worth the difference if only for the time that you save.
Keep it quick and simple - opt for arbitration
In a court case, attorneys can use all sorts of tricks to lengthen and complicate a case. And often do. Two reasons - First: by overwhelming the opposition they try to instill fear and force a settlement despite the facts. Many people knuckle under and give in. Second, and this should never be forgotten: many lawyers (not all, but many) have it in their best interest to draw out a case with papers and motions, because they earn more money. Few will attempt an early settlement because it reduces their earnings.
This is especially true today as the amount of legal work shrinks and they struggle to maintain their $200-$500 per hour fees. In arbitration, they lose these advantages and earn far less.
You will read on the internet and in the news that lawyers are opposed to arbitration for another reason: It prevents them from filing massive class action suits, from which they often get most of the money and the victims get pennies. Do not further the stranglehold the legal profession has on victims of mistreatment or misunderstandings. Insist that an arbitration clause be included in any contract you agree to, or that you prepare or have prepared for your use.
It is smart to write this clause into any agreements you sign, such as home improvements or complicated purchases:
ARBITRATION CLAUSE - (names of both parties) hereby agree to present any disagreements to binding and unappealable arbitration for resolution. The intention herein is to avoid lawsuits.