It all boils down to confidence in a supplier who in the virtual world may appear to be no more substantial than a web page. What redress do online shoppers have if things go wrong, especially if their purchase is dispatched from abroad, and how do they get redress?
ICC invited e-business experts to spell out what companies selling goods and services online should do to provide fair and rapid customer redress.
They came up with a set of best practices that are relevant both to businesses and to consumers; Putting it right: Best practices for customer redress in online business. Businesses are advised on how internal customer redress systems can resolve most customer complaints while consumers are told what they are entitled to expect.
A companion document, Resolving disputes online: Best practices for online dispute resolution in B2C and C2C transactions, sets out best practices for online dispute resolution for business to consumer (B2C) transactions and also for transactions between consumers (C2C).
A task force on consumer policy comprised of members of the ICC Commission on E-Business, IT and Telecoms drew up the two sets of best practices. They take their place alongside ICC’s Business-to-Consumer and Consumer-to-Consumer Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Inventory.
which is an online resource of services for consumers to assist shoppers making purchases over the Internet.
Ayesha Hassan, Senior Policy Manager for E-Business, IT and Telecoms, said: “The vast majority of customer complaints can be solved in-house if businesses respond to customer complaints fairly, promptly and in a satisfactory manner.
“We would like to see the best practices provide guidance to online sellers. They offer an effective way to build consumer confidence in shopping online.”
Among the best practices listed are:
- Every company should have a system in place to handle customer complaints, under the immediate responsibility of a director or senior official;
- Once a customer’s complaint is received, the complainant should be issued with a receipt;
- The customer should be requested to provide additional information if this appears necessary;
- A customer’s complaint should be handled by a different staff member from the one whose conduct is the subject of the complaint.
- The company’s response should show clearly how the company plans to deal with it.
- Any rejection of a complaint should also inform the customer of the possibility to submit the request to a competent dispute settlement body.
ICC encourages companies engaged in online transactions with consumers to use online dispute resolution services when the companies’ own customer redress mechanisms have been exhausted.