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More businesses sign on to voluntary consumer mechanism

Photo: CNA

More Cypriot companies are signing up to a relatively new consumer service that settles disputes out of court and lends credibility and confidence to the businesses that sign on.

The Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism (ADR), a voluntary mechanism, aims to solve consumer to business disputes which result from a purchase of goods or services less than €5,000 excluding possible further expenses and interest rates.

In case of a dispute with a service or solution provider, the consumer can contact the service for advice. If the conflict cannot be resolved in a friendly way, the ultimate bodies responsible for solving such problems are the district courts.

The ADR has been in existence for around a year and comes under the competition and consumer protection service of the commerce ministry.

According to the Cyprus News Agency, the interest among Cypriot companies to join the ADR mechanism is growing. An official, Emilia Papachristodoulou said it “promotes building strong relationships between businesses and their customers, through the development of confidence and provides easy, fast and inexpensive resolution of disputes among themselves without the involvement of the courts. ”

ADR is becoming an increasingly popular choice, particularly for disputes relating to commercial matters and companies are becoming more aware of the relevance and usefulness of ADR because it is cheaper and quicker than the judicial procedure.
The outcome of the ADR procedure is made available within a period of 90 calendar days from the date on which the ADR entity has received the complete complaint file.
The way consumers view a business’s image can determine whether it is successful or not. Situations that can harm a company’s image include, among others, poor service or quality and lawsuits.

Papachristodoulou said that within the framework of the agency’s communication policy they conduct meetings with companies and inform them of their obligations towards consumers and clients, as well as the ADR mechanism.

“These meetings have resulted in a gradual increase in the interest of companies for registration,” she said. “This interest is expected to increase as the service has already start planning new meetings with companies.”

Companies that have registered so far include;  Stephanis, Larco Digital Studio, Dimco, Leroy Merlin, Harry Tsoukkas, Cosmedia Laboratories, A & C Chrisofi, Malouppas & Papacostas (Mango stores, Stradivarius, Calzedonia, Intimissimi, Tezenis, Bagatt, Kipling, Primadona, Four-Day Clearance), A & G Kleima Electricals and A & G Kleima Import Export, and Perfect U.

Papachristodoulou said so far they have had three disputes, two of which reached and amicable settlement while the third will go to arbitration, which must rule within 15 days.

The cost of using the system is between €5 and €17 depending on the amount being claimed.  Consumers will be asked to pay the arbitrator’s fee of €85 for cases where the claim is less than €2,500 and €170 for cases over that amount.

The burden of the cost of the arbitrator’s fee is always paid by the party who loses the arbitration according to the verdict of the Arbitrator. Whatever the result of the arbitration is, the amount paid by the consumer to submit the complaint is not refundable.

More info:

http://www.mcit.gov.cy/mcit/cyco/cyconsumer.nsf/All/06202CFD0592DEFDC2257FE100531CC8?OpenDocument

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