12° Nicosia,
24 May, 2024

Dispute resolution services a more cost effective way to resolve issues

Disputes between consumers and businesses are usually resolved within 90 days at a lesser cost

by Andrea Thoides*

Going to court to resolve a dispute between a consumer and a business is not always necessary. There are alternatives that are less time-consuming and less expensive than legal action and can provide very effective solutions. One excellent option is the extrajudicial institution of Alternative Dispute Resolution, through which consumer disputes, both domestic and cross-border, are resolved within 90 days, always within the single European market.

Consumer disputes can be resolved within 90 days.

This mechanism was established by a European Union directive and has been incorporated into our country's national law, with the goal of becoming an important tool for more effective enforcement of consumer rights wherever and whenever consumer disputes arise in the context of a contract for the sale of goods or the provision of services, with advantages for both consumers and businesses.

There is no legal requirement for ADR acceptance, but it is required in some cases, such as telecommunications and postal services, certain financial services, and construction projects. Even where ADR is voluntary, there are strong incentives and benefits to those participating in the procedure.

1) It encourages the development of strong relationships between businesses and their customers, giving them a competitive advantage.

2) It provides innovative solutions that a court of law could not provide because its decisions are constrained by judicial procedure rules.

3) It is a simple method of resolving disputes because it is not based on strict court rules.

4) Given the low price paid by consumers, it is affordably priced, attractive, and inexpensive.

5) It is quick and efficient because the law requires that complaints be resolved within 90 days.

6) Businesses that have registered with an ADR body demonstrate a customer-centric culture by providing better customer service.

7) It increases the company's commercial favorability because customers see the company's willingness to join an ADR entity as a commitment to fair treatment and good faith service.

8) It helps avoid conflicts while also reducing negative publicity.

9) It helps in preventing an escalation of the dispute and possible complaint to the competent authority, which may levy a fine if it conducts a formal investigation of a complaint and concludes that there has been a violation of the law.

10) Some ADR entities provide additional services such as complaint data and trends that businesses can use for future strategic planning.

The Consumer Protection Bureau applauds and welcomes businesses that use ADR procedures by registering with an ADR Entity, and encourages all businesses to do the same because it adds credibility to their dealings with customers while improving their relationships.

It is clarified that consumers may use Alternative Dispute Resolution after failing to find a solution through direct communication with the business and direct submission of complaints. It should be noted that there are two types of alternative dispute resolution:

  • The process allows the disputing parties to reach their own decision, usually with the assistance of a neutral third party. This is common in direct negotiation, reconciliation, and mediation.
  • The decision is made by a third party who is not a party to the dispute. This is true in the systems of adjudication, arbitration, and ombudsman.

More information on businesses' obligations and procedures can be found on the Consumer Protection Agency's website.

Finally, we urge consumers to consider the means offered by each business to resolve any disputes or problems that may arise when making a decision to purchase a product or service.

*Ms. Thoides is an officer of the Consumer Protection, Department of Energy, Trade, and Industry

Cyprus  |  consumer  |  business  |  disputes

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