Online traders including anyone with an eBay shop or Amazon seller account are to share a link on all business pages pointing customers to the European Unionâ€™s new Online Dispute Resolution service to give customers the chance to avoid going to court.
The law, part of the European Regulation on Consumer ODR (ODR Regulation), applies only to Britons if theyâ€™re selling to countries within the EU, but not within the United Kingdom itself â€“ so anyone only selling to other UK addresses, or to countries outside the EU, is not affected by the law.
However those who do sell just within the UK may be required to direct customers to an Alternative Dispute Resolution service, even if they then tell the customer that they have no intention of using it.
Officially the law came into effect at the start of January, but the link for the service was not working. Itâ€™s now going live and as such any sellers not displaying the link are in breach.
The reason for the law is to give buyers more protection. If a seller ends up in a dispute with a customer and they wonâ€™t accept any offers to resolve the issue initially, the Online Dispute Resolution service offers a cheaper alternative to potentially expensive legal proceedings.
Actual participation in the service is not mandatory â€“ anyone who would rather a buyer pursued actions in the courts can still force them down this path, but they must give the customer the option of looking into Online Dispute Resolution by providing a link.
eBay have confirmed that the law will affect people using its services, with a spokesman saying: â€œAll affected Cross Border Trade sellers will be required to comply with the new rules and display the link to the ODR website. Our current advice for sellers can be found at http://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/policies/business.html.â€