There are many cases where a person buys products or services from a business which end up being below his/her expectations. In some cases, this person will complain directly to the business and a solution may be found.
But what happens where no solution is found?
If no solution is found, then there are three options. Either this person ignores the problem and does not deal with it anymore. Either he/she files a lawsuit, or, he/she seeks to resolve the dispute through alternative dispute resolution – e.g. mediation.
In case of consumer disputes, there is a specific legal framework which ensures that:
1) The trade informs the consumer about the Alternative Dispute Resolution Body to which it belongs.
2) The consumer dispute is resolved quickly (within 90 days).
3) The dispute is resolved at a symbolic cost to the consumer.
What type of dispute is a Consumer Dispute?
Consumer disputes are those which arise from contracts of sale or provision of services between a trader established in the Republic and a Consumer.
A sales contract is a contract related to the sale of goods (e.g. purchase of a car, computer) whilst a service contract is a contract which relates to the provision of services.
In both types of contracts, the goods or services must be offered by the trader to the consumer for monetary consideration.
The trader, according to the Law is any natural or legal person, private or public, who acts, possibly through another person acting on his behalf or through him, for purposes that fall within its commercial, business, craft or professional activity. Examples of traders are retail businesses (eg any mall stores), banks, insurance companies, law firms, lawyers and health services, etc.
The consumer is any natural person who acts for purposes that do not fall within his commercial, business, craft or professional activity.
It is therefore important that the consumer (1) is a natural person and (2) does not act for the purposes of his profession.
For example, if a natural person buys something through his company for the purposes of claiming the VAT, then the contract is not considered a consumer contract. The reason is that the purchase was made by the company, which for the purposes of the Law is considered a legal entity – not a natural person.
The Complaint Procedure
The complaints procedure is simple. The consumer first tries to resolve his dispute with the trader. If this does not work then the consumer may visit the website of the Cyprus Consumer Center for ADR (www.adr.com.cy) and register a complaint through the relevant link and pay the amount of 20 Euros.
When his complaint is examined then the Cyprus Consumer Center for ADR contacts the trader and asks it to attend the process. If the trader accepts then the consumer is informed and we proceed to resolve the dispute. If the trader refuses then the process stops.
In our opinion, traders which have a real desire to offer an exceptional service to their customers, use an Alternative Dispute Resolution Entity. You can learn more about some such traders at www.adr.com.cy.
This article is co-funded by the European Union Consumer Program (2014-2020)