The European Commission has launched a new online platform to help consumers and traders to resolve disputes related to online purchases.

Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vera Jourova, said the main objective of the online platform is to instill more trust in European consumers when shopping online. At the same time its supports businesses who opt to sell their products and services online, hence, contributing to Europe’s digital single market.

The new Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform can now be used by EU consumers and traders to settle disputes related to online purchases, both domestic and cross-border.

When a dispute with an online trader arises and the consumer does not manage to resolve the matter in an amicable way, all the consumer needs to do is to log on to the ODR platform and fill out the complaint form.

Once the complaint is submitted, it is sent to the relevant trader, who proposes an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) entity to the consumer. Once the two parties agree on such an entity, the ODR platform transfers automatically the complaint to that entity. The complaint is handled entirely online and the ADR entity has to come to a decision in 90 days.

Thanks to the translation service available on the platform, parties from different European countries can communicate better with each other.

The ODR platform offers consumers and traders the possibility to resolve the dispute entirely online. Furthermore, under the new ODR regulation, traders who sell their products and services online are obliged to provide a link to the EU ODR platform on their website.

The ODR platform has the facility to channel disputes to 117 Alternative Dispute Resolution bodies from 17 member states that are connected to it.

The European Commission is working with the rest of the member states who are still not connected to the platform to achieve full coverage as soon as possible.

The benefits of ADR is that if consumers have a complaint about a good or service they have bought, instead of going to court, can choose ADR. The term ADR includes all the ways of resolving a complaint which do not involve going to court.

The ADR offers a quick and inexpensive way to solve disputes for consumers and traders. It is accessible to consumers and traders no matter what product or service is purchased, online or offline and regardless if the trader is established in the consumer’s country or in another member state.

For more information, contact the Office for Consumer Affairs within the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority by e-mailing info@mccaa.org.mt.

odette.vella@mccaa.org.mt

Odette Vella is senior information officer, Office for Consumer Affairs, Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority.

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