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eBay & Paypal Solve 60M Online Disputes A Year

eBay and PayPal together solve around 60 million disputes a year using software, according to Ethan Katsh, Professor at Yale University, Massachusetts, who spoke at the international Online Dispute Resolution Conference held in Chennai recently.

Over 300 experts in law, technology and conflict resolution congregated at the conference to discuss a wide range of topics - from consumer protection and intellectual property and privacy disputes to how courts around the world are looking to technology to help with their backlogs. Participants shared best practices, research and different modes of implementing the concept of online dispute resolution.

The conference was sponsored by eBay India and PayPal in association with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Though consumer protection and intellectual property infringement are lesser known aspects of India's growing online segment, industry experts believe that online dispute resolution is evolving into a necessary tool for eCommerce and other online businesses. We hope this will help our overburdened courts in the near future.

Explaining the concept, Collin Rule, Director – Online Dispute Resolution for eBay & PayPal said, "ODR is the use of information and communication technology to help people resolve their problem not only related to eCommerce but any sector that has an online arm. ODR is not the only tool necessary to create trust in transactions, but without it, online trust is impossible to sustain. At the rate that items or services are being bought and sold over the internet and mobile devices, it is becoming vital to redress systems and make it readily available to online consumer."

He also raised concerns about India's performance with online disputes in comparison with global standards. He said the international online database, which benchmarks the performance of resolving disputes, needs to be seen more effectively in India.

Online resolution can be used for disputes ranging from B2C (Business to consumer) to the prevention of human rights violations in conflict regions, to reconciliation of opposing groups in armed conflict and intellectual property on the internet.

In India, online dispute resolution is still in its infancy, said Chittu Nagarajan, Head – Community Courts of eBay & PayPal. Offering an example of the typical situation today, he said, "Many companies see customer complaints as an annoyance. They make it difficult for their buyers to report issues, and once they are reported, they drag their feet in addressing the buyer's complaint."

At eBay India's Community Review Forum, consumers can file a petition which will be evaluated by a panel of judges (apparently 7 eBay members who are selected on the basis of the feedback score.)

Previous ODR meetings and workshops have been held in Geneva (2002 and 2003), Edinburgh (2003), Melbourne (2004), Bologna (2005), Brussels (2005), Cairo (2006), Palo Alto (2007), Liverpool (2007) and Hong Kong (2007), Victoria (2008), Haifa (2009), Vienna (2010), and Buenos Aires (2010).

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