The demands of consumer protection litigation test the abilities of attorneys and the courts to remedy individual consumer disputes. In addition, arbitration traditionally provides a practical alternative for the resolution of disputes in the marketplace. Through the use of arbitration clauses in numerous court orders the Washington State Attorney General's 'Office has explored new territory in consumer protection.
In September, 1969 the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's Office filed suit against Carpeteria, a Seattle carpet firm. Carpeteria and its principals were charged with unfair trade practices relating to the advertising, sales, delivery and installation of carpets. The Consent Order filed on January 2, 1970 provided for ". . . the repayment, reimbursement, return of deposits, and payment of damages to those persons entitled thereto as a result of defendants' breaches of contract as alleged in the complaint." In accordance with the Washington arbitration statute (RCW 7.04), the court order included an arbitration clause which provided that "Defendant . . . shall make offers in full settlement of each consumer complaint filed with the Attorney General's Office by January 15, 1970, which consumer complaint alleged injury caused by defendants' breaches of contracts alleged in the complaint herein, and all such offers shall be transmitted to the individual complainants by January 30, 1970.