The consumer affairs ministry has invited bids for selection of an agency to design, develop, implement and manage the “Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Platform” along with its operation and maintenance for three years.
Currently, the ministry has the National Consumer Helpline (NCH), which helps consumers to file their complaints with the NCH through a call centre and portal. After complaints are registered, the NCH forwards them to the convergence partners, sellers, entities or e-commerce players for their resolution. If the complainant is not satisfied with the resolution or complaint is not resolved by the entities concerned, a consumer has the option to file a complaint to the consumer commissions or courts.
The ministry said that the ODR will serve as a second tier of pre-litigation channel before consumers reach the consumer commissions or courts, which is costly and takes time. “Therefore ODR is an attempt to provide a cost efficient, speedy and convenient redressal solution…ODR is a mechanism that assists the stakeholders to resolve the disputes online from the comfort of one’s home. It assists the consumer to file a complaint online and enables him or her to perform the entire procedure online,” the ministry said.
Currently, there are more than 5 lakh cases pending with consumer commissions and a large number of cases are pending at pre-litigation stage especially for e-commerce.
The platform intends to provide a unified portal to enhance consumer protection and fast-track e-dispute resolution by connecting consumers and companies with experts. It will be an end-to-end ODR process and will have Artificial Intelligence led matching of qualified expert counsellors to the type of request based on state, city and district, and the types of cases managed, expertise, experience, and linguistics.