Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Towards faster redress for disappointed shoppers?

Today, negotiators from the European Parliament and the Council found a deal on two prospective pieces of legislation: a Alternative Dispute Resolution directive and and a regulation on  Online Dispute Resolution .
The underlying goal is to provide "impartial mediation to settle disputes between shoppers and traders quickly, effectively and at low cost."
Admittedly, similar mechanisms are already available in many member states, but their effectiveness is hampered by lack of awareness and perfectible infrastructure. 
The harmonised ADR mechanisms should be
  • available for all economic sectors;
  • provided free of charge or only "at a nominal cost";
  • capable of generally resolving issues within 90 days.
In order to raise awareness, traders will have to inform consumers of which ADR bodies they are covered by and how to contact them. Measures must be taken in order to ensure that the arbitrators act impartially. 

A specific regulation will be issued concerning problems arising out of online sales. In this case, an online platform will be accessible through the"Your Europe" Portal to guide shoppers to the most appropriate resolution scheme for their dispute. All steps of the complaints will be dealt with online through a standard complaint form and electronic translation.
The application of EU privacy and data protection rules should make sure that the information concerned is processed correctly. 

What now? The acts will have to be officially endorsed by both organs in the coming months, starting with the Parliament where the texts should be put to plenary  vote early in 2013.

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