Arbitration Clause for installing a water heater???


One of the plumbing contractors (a bigger company) that gave me an estimate for a water heater has a clause about Alternative Dispute Resolution in the contract. Basically it says that they use an arbitrator to settle all disputes. It says I would waive my right to a lawsuit unless the amount were small enough for small claims court.
Their price is good for the heater, but I'm concerned about signing away my right to sue. Any reason I should go along with this clause, or should I tell them I will take my business elsewhere if the clause isn't removed?
J.
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Alternative Dispute Resolution isn't exactly giving up your right to sue. It just means you can't sue them in regular court. You have to present your case to an aribitrator. So the key issue here is: does the contract state that the arbitrator is from the American Arbitration Association? If so, those arbitrators are usually former judges, court referees, or law professors--so you usually get a fair hearing. If it's another unheard of arbitrator, you might want to check out their history. So of them aren't exactly "unbiased."
On the other hand, if you're using a licensed contractor and they pull a permit, I doubt you'll have anything to sue over. A water heater install is pretty cut and dried.
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Rick-Meister wrote:

Hmmm, I'll say. I'd rather be sure of their workmanship and warranty coverage of the tank.
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The clause does specifically say that I am waiving my right to sue, except for small claims.
I'm also considering a special valve (like the Waggs except resettable...assuming they don't only install the wags) and I'm also considering a PRV valve (one that allows backflow).

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Rick-Meister wrote:

I look at arbitration like the plague. There is little case law that will enable you to predict the outcome. Also, the result seems to be biased in favor of whichever party is likely to continue to employ arbitrators.
I testify as an expert witness and feel that law or personal opinion, not justice, is dispensed more often in arbitrations than in courts.
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For a simple, routine, low cost job like this, just get the damned thing done. How much can you sue them for? $300? If you trust them, get it done, otherwise move on. I'd probably not want to work for you.
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Well, I haven't sued anyone yet...just don't want to sign away that right.
The simple low cost job will wind up costing me at least $1600. (the heater plus special waggs (or watts) shutoff plus a Watts PRV valve that allows backflow) And that price doesn't include the extra $76 in "protection money" that my town charges me for the permit.
I live in North NJ and prices are expensive around here.
I remember the good ole' days 15 or 20 years ago when a water heater only cost a mere $300. Today a water heater costs around triple what it used to cost and will probably last half as long .
J.

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If you're not comfortable with the arbitration clause, then just get another plumber. There's no shortage of options when it comes to a water heater. Regarding how much can you sue them for, in the worse case scenario, it's a lot more than $300. Let's say they botched the install and left a gas pipe leaking, which a week later blew up the house and killed the bread-winner. The chance of that are extremely small, but there are certainly many other ways in which they could cause damage way beyond a few hundred dollars.
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wrote:

If you're not comfortable with the arbitration clause, then just get another plumber.
***********************************************************
And let them know why they didn't get the job.
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JayN,
What's the small claims court limit in NJ? Compare that to th cost of the work. What does your insurance agent think about you agreeing to arbitration? If it's a huge flood fiasco your insurance company may want to sue.
Dave M.
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If it was a heart operation or new wife it would be worth thinking about, but a water heater!
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If it's gas, have the gas company install one then.
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