If you are an EU business that sells video games (or pretty much anything else) online, there’s a new piece of consumer protection legislation you need to know about.
If you are an EU business that sells video games (or pretty much anything else) online, there’s a new piece of consumer protection legislation you need to know about. This is the European ODR Regulation (524/2013), certain parts of which have been introduced into UK law by the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Amendment) Regulations 2015, which came into effect on 15 Feb 2016.
What’s the point of the Regulations?
The Regulations are intended to introduce an easy, quick and cost-efficient way for consumers to make and resolve complaints with online sellers (often based in countries other than their own).
How will the Regulations go about this?
The Regulations introduce this new thing called the “Online Dispute Resolution Platform.” Like it says on the tin, this is an online portal where EU consumers can lodge complaints about traders they’ve bought things from online.
What does this mean for traders?
There are a couple of new things traders have to do:
What impact will this really have on traders?
Probably very little – here’s why. If a consumer uses to ODR Platform to make a complaint about a trader, the ODR Platform will get in touch with the trader to identify the appropriate third party (referred to as Alternative Dispute Resolution Providers) to help resolve the problem. The trader will then have complete freedom to say that it doesn't want to use that ADR Provider, or any at all – traders can effectively end the entire process there!
So if it’s optional for traders, what’s the point?
Exactly. Giving traders (i.e. the people being complained about) the power to decide whether or not this new process goes ahead will ultimately result in this being of little use to consumers out there.
Even though these Regulations won’t require traders to start using the ADR Providers to settle disputes, they still have to comply with the things mentioned under the ‘what does this mean for traders’ section above. If they don’t, a court order requiring compliance could in theory be made against them. AFAIK the major online platforms like Steam, Origin and PSN etc haven’t updated their sites accordingly yet, so in practice it’s unlikely smaller online traders will get picked up on this (at least for a while). That said, it’s a fairly easy thing to comply with and now you know how!
Header Photo: (c) owned by Square Enix - thanks for making Vivi so awesome!