A subsequent piece of legislation, the Online Dispute Regulations (ODR), came into force in 2016 introducing an online platform where consumers can log details of a dispute that has arisen over a purchase for goods or services that was entered into online.
The platform is a tool set up specifically to help consumers who have purchased goods and services online by providing a mechanism for communication between the consumer, trader and ADR body involved in the dispute. The European ODR platform allows consumers, traders and ADR providers to file, respond to, and handle disputes (including disputes where the trader and consumer are in different countries within the EU) online.
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) runs the ODR Contact Point helpline, which is designed to help consumers use the European ODR platform.
When a trader conducts business online, whether through a website or other electronic means, they must provide a link to the ODR platform website. Additionally, all online traders must state their email address on their website (an online contact form without an email address is not sufficient to meet this requirement).
Billy orders a book online from Eclipse Books. Eclipse Books is a member of the Association of Bookshops and the code of conduct states that if a dispute reaches deadlock then they must agree to enter into the ADR process with a consumer. Billy contacts Eclipse Books to say that there are 30 pages missing from the middle of the book and wants the book replaced or a full refund.
Eclipse Books says that all books are checked on dispatch and that the damage happened after Billy received the book, and refuses to refund or replace. It emails Billy to advise this, provides him with the name and web address of an approved ADR provider and states that it will enter into the process with him to attempt to find a resolution. Billy has already found the link on Eclipse Books’ website to the ODR Platform and received some details of this in an email from Eclipse Books during the purchase process. Billy completes the form to start the process.
An email is automatically sent to Eclipse Books requesting it to indicate the approved ADR body which it is happy to use. The process will allow communication to be made via the platform to put the consumer and trader both in contact with the ADR body.
Online marketplaces – which may not sell products direct to consumers but instead facilitate transactions between traders and consumers (for example online auction websites, and online retailers that also allow third-party sellers to trade through their website) – must provide a link to the ODR platform on their website.