EU Online Dispute Resolution Update – What Do You Need To Do Next?
I just want to start this article by saying that we have had a lot of conflicting opinions on this subject. So we have taken the liberty of looking more deeply into the subject to see if we can get a definitive answer, as to what you need to do if you are an online retailer with regards to adding the new requirement from the EU.
Let’s start by discussing what this is. If you have a website for your business then the chances are that over the last couple of weeks you have received a number of emails regarding some updates that the EU have introduced in regards to Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). The new changes suggest that you need to add some text and a link to your website to help a user/buyer navigate to, if they have a dispute with your business.
Why Have The EU Introduced This Requirement?
The main reason for this new requirement is to give buyers more protection when having a dispute with an online business. Currently many online users feel the process is too complex when they have a dispute with a business. This new Online Dispute Resolution requirement has been established to make it easier for disputes to get resolved. The Online Dispute Resolution service has been brought in to offer an alternative & cheaper option for customers and businesses rather than potentially expensive legal proceedings.
What To Do Next?
If your business trades with consumers via any online platform then you need to add a link to your website, along with some informative text. You need to add a link to your website which goes to - webgate.ec.europa.eu/odr/, this is the portal for the Online Dispute Resolution service and once you click this it will take you to a form where the user can then express their issue. Once this has been sent it will then be dealt with by Dispute resolution bodies. After this, the relevant action will be taken. Along with this link you need to add a main contact email address, so if anyone ever does submit a request then the Dispute resolution bodies have a main email address to contact you on. Here is some example text you can use on your site, (this can be added to your terms & conditions, or if you have a specific page for complaints/disputes it can go on there):
“If you’re unable to settle a dispute with us (Your Business Name) you can find more information and advice through the EU’s new Online Dispute Resolution service - webgate.ec.europa.eu/odr/. Please use Your@emailaddress.com as our main contact email address when submitting.”
However, this law is reported to only apply to businesses that are selling to other countries within the EU. If you’re a business that only sells products or services within the UK or you sell to only countries outside the EU and not to any other country in the EU then you would not need to add this new requirement. If you do just sell your product or service within the UK then you may be required to point customers to an Alternative Dispute Resolution service (ADR).
Don’t Comply – What Could Happen?
Reports are showing that failure to add this new requirement could lead to Trading Standards civil enforcement action and a court order requiring compliance. A breach of this could then lead to a punishment of an unlimited fine or up to 2 years imprisonment. This would be the worst case scenario and normally you would first get the option of just adding this new requirement to your website.
Following on from our initial research into this matter, we would suggest to add this requirement to your website, if you are an online retailer. As doing this will do no harm to your business or website. So we suggest that it be done regardless of whether it is a legal requirement or not. If you have any questions please contact us.
** Please note: We are not law experts so the information we have provided cannot be used as accurate legal advice**