The central government has announced plans to establish an online platform to address consumer complaints more efficiently. As per a TOI report, this platform will serve as a common interface for companies, service providers, and consumers, offering expert panels for quicker resolutions. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has invited bids for an agency to design, develop, implement, and manage the “Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Platform” for a three-year period.
Currently, the ministry operates the National Consumer Helpline (NCH), which allows consumers to lodge complaints via a call center and portal. Once registered, these complaints are forwarded to relevant sellers, entities, or e-commerce players for resolution. If the complainant remains unsatisfied or if the issue is not resolved by the involved parties, consumers can choose to escalate the complaint to consumer commissions or courts.
The ministry explained that the ODR platform will act as a preliminary channel for dispute resolution before consumers resort to costly and time-consuming legal proceedings. The aim is to provide a cost-effective, efficient, and convenient redressal solution, allowing stakeholders to resolve disputes online from the comfort of their homes.
Consumers will be able to file complaints and complete the entire procedure online. Currently, there are more than 500,000 pending cases with consumer commissions, particularly in the e-commerce sector. The ODR platform seeks to address this backlog by offering a unified portal that enhances consumer protection and expedites e-dispute resolution.
It will also employ Artificial Intelligence to match qualified expert counselors to specific requests based on location, expertise, experience, and language. This end-to-end ODR process aims to streamline consumer complaints and ensure timely resolutions.
Source: Economic Times