On Tuesday, a Tennessee couple whose Lexus sped out of control in 2006 had harsh words for the arbitration company that tried to settle their dispute out of court. Today, that company says it handles all cases before it fairly.
The arbitration company in question is the National Center for Dispute Settlement, which is privately held and based in Michigan. Its Web site lists as clients several automakers, including Ford, General Motors, and Toyota, which owns the Lexus brand. Rhonda and Eddie Smith of Sevierville, Tenn., testified to Congress Tuesday that the arbitration company denied their claim for a full refund on their Lexus, and the couple described the company’s process as a “waste of time” and a “farce.”
Craig Olson of the National Center for Dispute Settlement responded to the criticisms today in a statement sent to The National Law Journal. He said all Lexus disputes are handled by a panel of three neutral arbiters and that a manufacturer never has a say in selecting those arbiters.
“NCDS regrets that any consumer is unhappy with the outcome of their dispute, but as a neutral administrative agency, we have no control over the case outcome,” said Olson, senior vice president for dispute settlement services. “The quality of customer service and case management rendered by NCDS should not be impugned due to a dissatisfying result.”
Olson added that the company’s program is audited annually and is in compliance with the legal requirements for dispute settlement companies. “NCDS is highly regarded for the quality and caliber of its dispute settlement program in the industry,” he said.
UPDATE: Olson clarifies that the company does not handle arbitration for all its automaker clients. With Ford, for example, the company provides other services, Olson said.