A new online self-help tool offered by Consumer Protection BC will offer British Columbia consumers a modern and alternative way to resolve disputes with businesses focused on making it easier and cheaper to resolve differences. Currently in the pilot stage, Consumer Protection BC developed the platform for Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) in consultation with the Ministry of Justice, which is leading and supporting dispute resolution innovations as part of its justice reform initiative.
In the past month, Rogers Communications Partnership (Rogers), Robbins Parking and Shaw have committed to using the ODR platform with their B.C. consumers to continue to improve the customer experience, resolve issues fairly, and complement other complaint-handling processes. As an alternative dispute resolution option, the ODR platform can be accessed online at any time. During the pilot period, ODR is free for consumers and businesses to use.
“This new approach to dispute resolution is both innovative and cost-effective for citizens and business owners alike. With three major companies agreeing to use the service, we are hopeful that ODR will be recognized by B.C.’s business community to be a progressive and valuable tool for resolving consumer disputes quickly and fairly,” said Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton. “Online dispute resolution also constitutes an important piece of the B.C. government’s action plan for transforming B.C.’s justice system. The proposed Civil Resolution Tribunal will handle small claims and strata disputes as an alternative to going to court.”
During the ODR process, consumers and businesses work together to reach mutually agreed-upon resolutions. In specific situations, Consumer Protection BC, acting as a neutral third-party, can be called upon to lend assistance and mediation.
“Time and time again, consumers came to us asking us for alternative and efficient options to resolve disputes with businesses,” added Manjit Bains, vice president, corporate relations, Consumer Protection BC. “ODR was the answer to this need – we believe this form of alternative dispute resolution is truly the way of the future and I’m delighted by the response we’ve had so far from businesses that are committed to excellence and customer service.”
Through the justice reform initiative, the government is working to create a transparent, timely and balanced justice system for British Columbians. In 2012, the B.C. government passed legislation to allow the creation of the Civil Resolution Tribunal. Once operational, it will also use online dispute resolution as an alternative option for citizens dealing with strata property and small claim disputes.
“Robbins is committed to customer service. In the parking business, disputes are not uncommon, but it’s how they are resolved that determines your standing in the community,” stated Dan Sawchuk, president, Robbins Parking Ltd. “We want our customers to feel they’ve been heard and that they’ve been fairly treated. This pilot project from Consumer Protection BC will help businesses get even better at resolving customer service issues. We support it and are very pleased to be a part of it.”
Consumer Protection BC is a not-for-profit corporation that was created to strengthen consumer protection in B.C. and enforce consumer protection laws. Businesses serving B.C. consumers who are interested in participating in the ODR pilot are invited to contact Consumer Protection BC.