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European Consumer Centre – Online Disputes Resolution Service

From the ECC Newsletter for February 2008:

I read somewhere that you are now offering an ODR service? What is ODR and how could it help me?

Problems with purchases in another European country can usually be resolved via the network of 29 European Consumer Centres. If a problem cannot be resolved by the ECC network, the alternative of a cross-border court action is costly, difficult, and often impractical. As we are always seeking new means of assisting consumers, we have now begun a trial of an online dispute resolution service (ODR) for problems with online purchases of goods from UK websites. In ODR, an independent mediator will try to reach an agreement by liaising with both parties online, allowing for speedy and effective resolution of disputes.

How does it work?

If ECC Ireland cannot resolve the problem, it can now send the case for mediation to an online dispute resolution (ODR) service. An independent mediator will gather any further information needed from the consumer online, through a specialised web page. He/she will then communicate with the consumer and the business in question in order to reach an agreeable settlement. Both parties communicate only with the online mediator and so any potential hostility is avoided. The service is free and totally confidential. If this ODR channel fails, other options are still open to the consumer e.g. litigation. For the trial period (Feb- July 2008), the ODR facility will be available to consumers’ who have unresolved problems with goods bought on UK websites. (Airline bookings are not included in the trial).

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