Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
As from the 1st October 2015 it will be an offence for any business, including many, if not most, of our members, selling services or goods to people buying other than for the purpose of a trade, profession, business or craft to not inform those customers whose complaints they do not resolve, of the details of an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service, i.e. one that resolves dispute out of court, that :-
- covers such type of product or service;
- is accessible and operational online; and
- has been approved by Trading Standards as satisfying certain standards..
Further, the business must say whether or not they will participate in a form of ADR.
As from the 9th January 2016 all businesses including most of our members, marketing their services online, will also have to include on their website a link to a special European Commission website that will direct dissatisfied customers to an approved ADR provider.
These laws will significantly increase the numbers of complaints and disputes from consumers and raises many questions:-
- Do you know how to find an appropriate ADR provider to put the customer in touch with?
- Do you know how such ADR services operate and whether or not you would wish to participate?
- Would it be in your interest to participate?
- Who pays and what is the cost?
- Do you have to participate?
- How would such be impacted by any small claims court proceedings , adverse consumer reviews, adverse customer tweets etc?
In short, how will our members deal with them to ensure their practices do not suffer from ignorance of these laws and how best to benefit from them?
Here are the answers.
Although traders will have to in most cases refer dissatisfied patients to an approved ADR provider, they are not obliged under this law to participate in ADR. Is the answer then to just find out a name of a service to give them but not participate? Emphatically, no! If a customer is unhappy how more unhappy will he be if, after you refer him to a government approved ADR provider, you then tell him you will not participate. He will likely be so further annoyed as to hit Twitter, Facebook and various consumer review sites to damage your name.
The answer is to research and find a suitable provider and participate. Suitability will include cost since under the Regulations you must bear most of the charge. The consumer cannot be allowed to pay more than a nominal contribution.
e-Terms will guide members to a suitable ADR provider and encourage them to participate to help build up good customer relations.