Online Dispute Resolution for E-Commerce Websites

INTRODUCTION

There has been a steady increase in the number of E-commerce websites in India and It is expected to grow in the days to come. The entrepreneurs or founders focus on the core ideas looking at the markets and benefits that can be derived from them. The businessmen look at the core values of the business but cannot expect everything to happen in a congenial and/or in a predetermined method expected by them.

E-COMMERCE AND ODR

Let us take the most common example where the certain goods are sold online, be it electronic gadgets, dress, books, vegetables etc. You order for an product and you have received something else or nothing or a defective one. If the particular website provides the goods directly, undoubtly the website will be held liable. However, even where the website acts as an “intermediary” between the suppliers and the customers, the website is liable for contributory negligence claiming it provides a platform for the supplier to cheat the customer. In such case, the online dispute resolution would be handy to resolve the disputes.

Having concrete terms and privacy policy for the website will be handy. Under the terms, the rights and duties of the parties have to be properly defined with boundaries. As per the Agreement, the offending party shall be made liable for any loss or damage caused to the other party. By these legal documents, the website may claim to have clean hands from the legal perspective but have factually contributed towards the loss of the aggrieved party. Even otherwise, the supplier or the service provider or the customer, as the case may be, having any dispute with the other party, ultimately affects the reputation of the website or even its genuinity. The legal conclusion may not be relevant to laymen. It is mostly the reviews and the customer satisfaction that brings or retains any customer through online dispute resolution in India.

ODR AND CUSTOMER SATISFACTION

To bring about customer satisfaction, the website has to provide a platform for its customers to express their dissatisfaction if any. It is important to provide the contact details where any complaint or a grievance can be made against the website or the other user(s) on the website. Once information is received, any customer will expect a responsible dynamic website to give a convincing reply failing which the brand name of the website will be at stake. However, for all grievances, a convincing reply may not be available on the website. Hence, it is important for any website to provide a grievance redressal mechanism and choosing an alternative dispute resolution in India is the best option for e-commerce websites.

CONCLUSION

Now, the issue is narrowed down to the feasibility of the site owner to maintain its reputation by providing service as well as justice in every transaction made through the website to bring about customer satisfaction.  In some cases, the issue would be mostly misunderstanding between the parties. This could be solved by allowing the parties to negotiate and resolve the issue. However, where the issues could not be resolved between the parties, the website can act as a mediator to resolve the dispute between the parties. For this purpose, the website might have to appoint a suitable person who can understand the problem and help the parties to arrive at an amicable solution. The majority of the cases would be settled at this stage.

In certain rare cases, the matter could not be resolved by mediation, the website can provide a platform to the parties to settle the issue through Arbitration. The website can appoint arbitrators on behalf of the parties with their concern and settle the dispute. By opting to Arbitration, the parties need not have to approach the courts or search for the appropriate courts to seek a remedy which is spread across the country. This will help the parties to settle their dispute in a hassle free manner.

It's high time for the e-commerce site to provide for online dispute resolution for lega protection and increased customer satisfaction.