The consumer ombudsman under-used in favour of consumer association forums

Since 1 January 2016, professionals have been obliged to appoint a mediator when they have private individuals among their customers. From the same date, all consumers have the possibility of requesting that disputes between them and professionals under a sales or service contract be resolved by mediation free of charge. However, it is noticeable that this route is increasingly being abandoned in favour of consumer association forums. This raises the question of the real motivations of this category of complainants: dispute resolution, or damage to reputation?

Obligation to appoint a mediator: the professionals concerned

As we told you in the introduction, all professionals who have private individuals among their customers, regardless of the sales channel (physical shop or e-commerce site), are under the obligation to appoint a consumer mediator, and this since 1 January 2016. In detail, this obligation applies to professionals operating in various fields of activity: commercial, industrial, craft or liberal activities. Moreover, the obligation is maintained regardless of the size of the company, and concerns all sectors, with the exception of non-economic services of general interest, higher education and health services.

Furthermore, professionals who do not contract directly with private individuals (producers or manufacturers for example) are not concerned by this obligation. The aim of this new scheme is to allow consumers to have access to a consumer mediation channel for the amicable resolution of disputes.

Anonymous whistleblowing is on the rise

Unfortunately, the mediation route is underused in favour of anonymous, often unobjective and incorrect, denunciation on the forums of consumer associations such as 60 million consumers. The question therefore arises as to the real motives for such an approach. For, why hide the mediator, if not to damage the brand image of a company or a professional who is being attacked. Obviously, the purpose of these attacks is not to resolve the dispute, but simply to destroy a reputation.

In Net Wash’s opinion, these associations seem to be simply surfing on the trend, taking advantage of the “fashion” of denunciation under the pretext of helping consumers. At Net Wash, we have real, effective solutions to help companies, traders and craftsmen to defend themselves against these review forums.

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