P.O. Box 675
April 19, 2000
Mr. Donald Clark, Secretary
Re: Workshop June 6/7, 2000 Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Transactions in the Borderless Online Marketplace
Dear Mr. Clark,
The purpose of this letter is to request the opportunity to participate in the June 6 and 7, 2000 workshop on ADR for Consumer Transactions in the Online Marketplace.
I am an entrepreneur and have recently developed a website http://webdispute.com
to focus on the resolution of commercial web-based disputes. WEBdispute.com provides parties who are not located in close proximity with an impartial forum for resolving disputes. My website provides parties with a choice of forum; parties may select an e-mail, telephone conference, or in-person hearing.
The main focus of WEBdispute.com is on business to business commercial disputes, however, I see tremendous potential for ADR in the business to consumer commercial arena, provided certain guidelines are met.
From a consumer perspective, information and knowledge are perhaps the most vital aspects required for the implementation of a web-based dispute resolution program. The consumer must be informed consumers must have information about ADR and its implications in a commercial dispute. Businesses must be required to inform consumers of an arbitration clause (or other ADR provision) in their commercial online contracts. Consumers must specifically consent to this contractual provision. The written notice requirements of the Uniform Arbitration Act should be amended to include electronic agreements. However, it is vital that consumers be required to specifically acknowledge the ADR clause separate and apart from the terms of their commercial contractual agreement.
With information and knowledge comes choice. An informed consumer can make better decisions and choices with regard to the nature of their contractual agreements. A party who does not want to participate in alternative dispute resolution would be aware of an arbitration clause and could make an informed decision about whether or not to enter into the commercial transaction at all.
The Department of Commerce and the Federal Trade Commission must be involved, not only as a regulatory body but also as a conduit for all information that is required to support the development of online ADR both in the public and private sectors. Consumers and professionals alike need to be educated. This includes, but is not limited to, the training of arbitrators to manage the web-based ADR process and informing consumers of alternative dispute resolution including the benefits and drawbacks.
I am anxious to participate in this workshop. Please contact me if you need any additional information.