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Activists Tell Citigroup to Give Up Their License to Steal

Today, Jan. 28, an activist marching band and NYC street performers delivered a petition signed by more than 100,000 consumers to Citigroup’s New York headquarters, calling on the firm to remove terms in their contracts that deny customers their right to a day in court.

The petition to the five biggest banks that use forced arbitration clauses – PNC, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and US Bancorp – came from a broad coalition of national consumer and citizen groups including Public Citizen, Consumer Action, The Other 98%, National Association of Consumer Advocates, and National Consumer Law Center.

Scene from “Forced Arbitration! A License to Steal, Lost in the Fine Print!” a production of the Semi-Upright Puppet Company

Many consumers don’t realize that simply by signing a bank contract, they may be signing away their right to sue their bank in court. To educate onlookers, the Rude Mechanical Orchestra and the Semi-Upright Puppet Company teamed up to put on a performance of a brief play, “Forced Arbitration! A License to Steal, Lost in the Fine Print!” inside Citigroup’s headquarters.

Performers from the troupes told the tales of wronged consumers like Bernardita Duran of Queens, NY, robbed of over $4,000 by a debt relief company, yet never met the person deciding her case because the debt relief company chose an arbitrator…in ARIZONA!

The action comes as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) studies the use of forced arbitration by financial institutions against their customers. It has been over a year since the CFPB released its preliminary data on the arbitration study, confirming that the practice is prevalent in most everyday consumer financial products. The CFPB is authorized to ban forced arbitration after it releases the final report.

The action today was also in support of letters sent to both Citigroup and JPMorgan, calling on them to end forced arbitration.

Here are some photos from today’s action at Citigroup HQ.

The band gets ready to assemble at Citi:

Activists unveil the LENGTHY, indecipherable forced arbitration clause outside of Citi HQ:

Then, they moved into the lobby of Citi:

Citi employees confronted the marching band:

Following the performance, activists delivered the over 100,000 signatures calling on Citigroup to end forced arbitration clauses:

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