As of Monday 15 February 2016, the European Commission's Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform was launched, allowing consumers and traders to resolve their disputes electronically for domestic and cross-border transactions.
Essentially, it is about creating a method of out-of-court dispute resolution (a kind of "friendly settlement"), in cases where a consumer wants to file a complaint about a consumer good or service purchased online.
The Electronic Dispute Resolution platform connects directly with the competent Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) bodies, which handle complaints, so that resolution is simpler, faster and less expensive than going to court.
In our country, the competent bodies are the Consumer Advocate and the Banking and Investment Services Ombudsman.
In practice, it is a 4-step process:
1. Filing a complaint
The consumer submits a named complaint against a specific trader through the European Commission's dedicated website, regardless of whether he is located in the consumer's country of residence or not.
2. Agreement on the choice of dispute resolution body
The details of the complaint are communicated to the merchant and the parties must choose within 30 days, the preferred Alternative Dispute Resolution body, i.e. in the case of Greece between the Consumer Ombudsman and the Banking Ombudsman.
3. Processing of the complaint by the dispute resolution body
The details of the complaint are forwarded to the Alternative Dispute Resolution body chosen by the parties, which undertakes to intervene and act as a mediator between the consumer and the trader, proposing a solution to the complaint, imposing a specific solution or simply calling the two parties (consumer and trader ) to discuss how to settle the dispute.
4. Settlement result and termination of complaint
The Alternative Dispute Resolution body handles the case 100% electronically and within 90 days reaches a decision resolving the dispute.
The procedure is part of Directive 2013/11/EC, while in Greece it was activated through its incorporation into Greek legislation with Ministerial Decision 70330/2015.
For more clarifications and legal guidance regarding the above, you can contact GRECA.