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The Rights of Consumers to Electronic Dispute Resolution

Are you a consumer? You have the right to be informed by an online business regarding Online Dispute Resolution

When a business provides services or products online, the ability to resolve disputes in a cost effective and quick manner, enhances the consumer and business’ confidence in the unified digital market. This is usually the case in large online platforms which, in case of a customer complaint, strive to resolve a dispute alternatively and outside the court.

What is Online Dispute Resolution?

Online Dispute Resolution applies to consumer disputes, meaning disputes between a consumer and a business, where the consumer purchases products or services online.

In case of a disagreement between the consumer and the business, the consumer can apply to the Online Dispute Resolution Platform and submit a complaint. The business is notified of the complaint and is prompted to select the Alternative Dispute Resolution Entity it wishes to use. Then the consumer is notified about this selection and has the option to either accept the proposed Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Entity or propose another such Entity. When the ADR Entity is agreed to by both parties then the dispute resolution will be transferred to the Entity and the procedure of resolving the dispute will commence. By law, the procedure must be completed within 90 days.

Obligation to Inform the Business

According to Regulation (EU) 524/2013, the consumer in domestic or cross border transactions must be informed about the Online Dispute Resolution Platform.  All businesses providing products or services online, must inform consumers on their website and provide a link to the Online Dispute Resolution Platform.

Such information is commonly conveyed by a statement such as the following:

“The European Commission offers a platform for Online Dispute Resolution, which you can access by clicking on the following link: https://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr/main/index.cfm?event=main.home.chooseLanguage”

What are my Rights if I have Not Been Informed About the Online Dispute Resolution Platform?

The business is obligated to inform consumers regarding the Online Dispute Resolution Platform in the terms and conditions of its website. The Consumer Protection Service is responsible for ensuring whether businesses engaged in online commerce, provide such information on their website.

If the business has not informed you regarding the Online Dispute Resolution Platform, then you can submit a complaint to the Consumer Protection Service, which can impose a fine on the business, up to 10,000. The Consumer Protection Service’s telephone number for consumer complaints is 1429.

This article does not constitute legal advice.

The publication of this article is co-funded by the European Union’s “Consumer Programme (2014-2020)”.

 

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