8 Apr 2004

What is it?
Ecodir.org is an Irish-based website open to consumers looking to resolve disputes between themselves and online shopping sites, for example for the purchase of faulty goods, non-delivery of goods or breaches of privacy. The ECODIR (electronic consumer dispute resolution) process begins when a consumer files a case with ECODIR and is designed to reach a solution within two to 30 days, ie much more quickly and less expensively than a court case would be.

What does it do?
Ecodir.org benefits consumers by providing them with an effective means of solving their complaints online. ECODIR uses a structured process of negotiation and (if required) mediation — all in a private and secure online environment. The system is easy to use, no matter where the parties are located. ECODIR benefits businesses too, because consumer complaints and claims are presented to them in a packaged format — allowing them to manage customer relations more efficiently. And customers prefer to deal with businesses that have effective complaint and dispute management procedures. The ECODIR project stems from a university initiative supported by the European Commission and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

The verdict?
Ecodir.org and its platform is intuitive and easy to use. All that users require is internet access and email. A private and secure web area is devoted to each dispute and the system is designed to facilitate the exchange of information in structured way. The process is assisted by automated notification so that the parties are automatically informed of every new element (message, proposal for settlement, etc.) relative to their dispute. Access to the private pages is secured by username and password, while all the information exchanged via the ECODIR platform remains confidential.

The system is concurrently available in English and French, though the language of the dispute resolution between the parties can be any language common to the parties, and the appointment of the mediator takes into account the parties’ language skills.

By Brian Skelly