Complaints about Internet purchases could be resolved by a new European platform which will open on the 15th of February, the Belgian European Consumer’s centre has announced. This centre will be a contact point for Belgium.
The European Commission wants to help consumers and sellers resolve complaints about Internet purchases without going to a tribunal. It has therefore developed a platform to resolve online purchase issues (ODR). A European consumer unsatisfied with a webshop purchase from a company based in their own country or another EU member country will be able to submit a complaint. If the seller agrees to mediation, the point of contact will pass the case on to an extra-judicial complaints court, or a mediation service for the sector concerned. If that fails, the courts will be used as the last resort.
In Belgium, there are currently 12 recognised extra-judicial complaints courts that meet the quality criteria set out by Europe. “Not all member States have been as efficient as Belgium. The directive on the recognition of alternative complaints courts has not been put in place in all the EU countries. Some of them don’t yet have courts that could deal with complaints via the ODR platform. None of Belgium’s neighbours (France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Germany) have courts recognised by the new European legislation”, says the Belgian European Consumer’s centre.
As well as making makes Belgium look good, the new European legislation also means that mediation is standardised at a European level, says Karen Ghysel, the CEC Belgium spokesman. Belgian consumers will benefit when they buy from a webshop based within the European Union. The platform will offer automatic translation. The efficiency of this service has yet to be tested. “For some important documents, like some decisions, we might need translators. Contact points can’t be involved in translation”, says Karen Ghysels.