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Following the implementation of the ADR Directive, retailers and traders are often faced with a choice between putting forward a mediation or ombudsman ADR entity to customers with unresolved complaints and whether to use either.

Ombudsmen are publicising themselves In the national media and presenting themselves as the only choice available and implying that all customers need to do is register their complaint with them and the business will use the ombudsman service.

Consumers are not going to want to have to pay to mediate when they can have their dispute decided by an ombudsman for free. This is not good news for businesses though as they end up picking up the cost and having a decision imposed on them.

The good news is that businesses do not have to agree to use an ombudsman, retail, consumer or otherwise. They only have to provide information about a certified provider, like ProMediate, to customers and it is up to them whether they use the service. Obviously we would recommend mediating but the point is that it is a voluntary process and we do not impose an outcome. We do charge the customer a nominal fee so they have some “skin in the game” and this discourages frivolous complaints.

This issue will come to the fore more after 15 February when businesses trading online must provide a link on their websites to the EU complaints portal which will direct complainants to a selection of ADR entities relevant to their dispute. The business must not feel obliged to go with an ombudsman solution.

For more information please contact us through our website.