EU launches on-line platform to solve consumer disputes
Tuesday, 16 February 2016
European Commission announced yesterday that it has launched a new platform to help consumers and traders solve online disputes over purchases made online. The platform is multi-lingual and offers consumers the possibility to conduct the entire resolution procedure on-line. By not having to go to court to solve disputes, consumers will save money and time.
The Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform offers a single point of entry that allows EU consumers and traders to settle their disputes for both domestic and cross-border online purchases. This is done by channeling the disputes to national Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) bodies that are connected to the platform and have been selected by the member states.
Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: “Most consumers experiencing problems when buying online don’t complain, as they believe the procedure is too long and that it won’t be solved. The Online Dispute Resolution platform is an innovative tool saving time and money for consumers and traders”.
The platform is multi-lingual and offers consumers the possibility to conduct the entire resolution procedure on-line. The Brussels Times tested the complaint form and found it relatively user-friendly to fill in. The complaint is sent to the trader, indicated by the consumer in the form.
Consumer and trader agree on the choice of ADR entity, usually a public or semi-public body, to mediate between them. On average, it takes a maximum of 90 days for cases to be solved.
Today, around 117 Alternative Dispute Resolution bodies from 17 Member States are connected to the Online Dispute Resolution platform. Dispute resolution bodies are currently not available on the site in the following countries: Croatia, Germany, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain.
The Commission states that it is working with the member states to achieve a full coverage of all member states and sectorsas soon as possible.
According to the Commission, the experience of European consumers who have used Alternative Dispute Resolution instead of going to court tends to be positive: 70% were satisfied by the way their complaint was handled through this procedure.