Friday, September 22, 2023

How to Opt Out of Venmo’s New Arbitration Clause?

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Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

If you’re using the Venmo app, you’ve probably recently received an email explaining that the company is making changes to its user agreement – including a fairly onerous arbitration clause where, among other things, you agree not to become part of any form of class action suit. You can choose not to, but it’s not easy.

We’ll tell you how to opt out, but first some information about arbitration clauses.

Arbitration clauses have become extremely popular in business-to-consumer agreements. (For example, here’s a 2019 article that explains how to opt out of the arbitration clause that emerged when Apple added a credit card.) Not surprisingly. In fact, when you agree to arbitrate, you put most of the benefits in the company’s court. For example, most arbitration clauses deny you the opportunity to be part of a class action lawsuit or sue the company individually. Instead, an arbitrator (often chosen by the company) adjudicates the case and then makes a non-appealable decision.

And in fact, this is exactly what the arbitration clause that Venmo adds is meant to be. It is certainly not surprising that such a clause would eventually be added; PayPal, owner of Venmo, added a similar arbitration clause in 2012† Venmo did have an arbitration clause in its previous user agreement, which contained a class action waiver. However, the wording of that clause, when read by laymen, appears to be less weighty.

One thing to keep in mind: While many companies have added arbitration clauses to their user agreements, there has been some legal resistance; for example, there have been cases in which judges ruled that arbitration clauses prohibiting class action lawsuits are “unreasonable and unenforceable” because the amount an individual could sue would be so small that it would not be economically viable.

That said, you may decide that you wish to opt-out of Venmo’s arbitration clause and retain your right to sue and/or participate in a class action lawsuit if necessary. The instructions for this are in the new user agreement; if you don’t feel like wading through the whole thing, here’s the short version of what to do:

  • Download and print the Venmo unsubscribe form
  • Fill in the full form
  • Mail it (yes, the kind of mail with an envelope and a stamp) to:

paypal, inc.
Attn: Litigation Department
Re: Venmo opt-out notice
2211 North First Street
San Jose, CA 95131

Two notes: First, there’s a time limit here, which is at the bottom of the form. Basically, if you first accepted the User Agreement on or after May 23, 2022, then your form should be postmarked up to 30 days after that date. If you’ve been a Venmo member for longer, you have until June 22, 2022.

And second, if you really want to be sure, it’s probably a good idea not to just toss the form in the letterbox. Instead, send it in so it can be traced or, better yet, someone has to sign for it. This will cost more, but if you foresee that you might have to sue Venmo in the future (especially if you plan on using the service extensively), it pays to be sure.

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