The EU have published a study this month on the level of compliance with the EU’s Regulation on Online Dispute Resolution in Consumer Disputes (524/2013) which came into effect in February 2016.
This study proves the truth of the claim to mass non-compliance that I presented to the Westminster Legal Policy Forum on the 23rd May 2016 and , the following day, at the International Forum on ODR held at the Peace Palace in The Hague. See an overview of my evidence in my earlier post.
This Report is disturbing in two ways:-
1. 72% non-compliance (86% in the UK) through absence of any link more than a year after the law came into effect shows gross lack of effort by member governments in creating awareness.
2. The situation is even worse than the headline figures, since the 'mystery shoppers' were asked to find a link as if they already had a complaint. As a result the report claims that by placing the link within Terms and Conditions (or complaint handling pages), to where a consumer might navigate to if you already had a complaint, satisfies the 'easily accessible' requirement. This ignores and defeats the principle objective of this legislation which was to encourage growth in cross border online consumer purchases within the Single Market by building confidence BEFORE the purchase has been made and a complaint arisen, that an approved ODR service is available. See paragraphs 6 and 7. It is a well known fact, if only from our own conduct, that very few people bother to read Terms and Conditions unless they have a specific reason to do so. We all lie regularly by clicking to say 'I have read, understand and agree to the Terms and Conditions". See also this sobering article.
Consumers deciding whether to buy from an EU trader will not therefore know of the EU's ODR platform if the link is not displayed on the home page. The mystery shopper guidance was wrongly designed.
The reality is that as, out of the 28% with any link at all, 83% had it buried in various legal terms that would not be read by consumers, the true figure for compliance is thus less than 5%!
The EU’s study is available here.
Graham Ross (www.ODRtraining.com and