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Consumer Ombudsman Officers to Test Arbitration via Video Conference

Pilot program for holding consumer dispute arbitration sessions onlineThe Department of Legal Affairs (DLA) pointed out that in light of the spike in domestic COVID cases, the growing popularity of ecommerce has inevitably led to an increase in consumer disputes. To ensure effective arbitration between buyers and sellers, the agency plans to pilot online arbitration meetings using video conferences which enables direct interaction with the parties and replaces traditional physical arbitration sessions. The pilot program will be conducted over a 6-month period.
 
According to DLA, among the consumer disputes reported in 2021, a total of 436 sellers refused to attend the arbitration session. Online shopping platform account for the largest number of sellers who failed to show up for the meetings.
 
The nature of the Internet makes it easy for consumers to purchase goods from buyers in other municipalities, but has also led to more disputes. In a number of cases, the seller often turned down requests to attend arbitration meetings with excuses such as “too far away,” “too few workers,” or “not much money involved.”
 
As a result, consumer ombudsman officers decided to test out video conferences as a tool for holding arbitration sessions. This approach not only follows the international trend, but also works well with the special characteristics of online shopping.
 
DLA pointed out that the Consumer Ombudsman Office has already met with 11 online shopping platforms to promote the advantages of this approach, hoping to raise the willingness of sellers to attend the meeting. The online shopping platforms attending include Shopee, Momo, PCHome24h, Yahoo Taiwan, PCHome, Ruten, Rakuten, ET Mall, FriDAY, GOMAJI, and Carousell.
 
Under the program, those filing shopping disputes against online shopping platforms can decide whether to use the online arbitration session upon complaint submission or apply within 3 days after receiving the meeting notice from the Consumer Ombudsman Office. Such sessions will be conducted via Cisco Webex Meetings, and all recording is prohibited. Third parties without permission from the presiding consumer ombudsman officer cannot attend the session.
 
Consumers who wish to report shopping disputes can call consumer service hotline 1950 or Citizens’ Hotline 1999 (ext. 7812).