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How easy is it to settle disputes on sharing economy platforms?

Montreal, March 4, 2020 - Many consumers do business with sharing economy platforms like Airbnb, Uber, Kijiji or Kickstarter, but when a problem arises, are the remedies provided by these companies readily available to consumers? Option consommateurs argues in a report released today that seeking justice through these mechanisms can be costly and complex.

To arrive at these conclusions, Option consommateurs analyzed the terms of use of ten of these platforms, and gathered consumer perceptions and experiences of these remedies.

Numerous clauses likely to limit access to justice have been identified in these companies' documents. In some cases, consumers may be forced to travel to California, New York or even Amsterdam to assert their rights. Even so, some platforms are trying to accommodate consumers.

"Consumers are also often asked to waive their right to sue class action , in addition to mandatory arbitration clauses. One platform even goes so far as to stipulate that, in the event of legal action, the user undertakes to defend it, and to pay legal fees in particular," lamentsMe Clarisse N'Kaa, author of the study at Option consommateurs.

Thus, rather than resorting to these mechanisms, the users surveyed preferred to contact their credit card issuer or use the platforms' internal measures to obtain a refund or cancel the service. The analysis also revealed a lack of clarity in the information provided, as well as a tendency to presume consumer consent, leading to a lack of awareness among consumers of their rights and remedies.

Option consommateurs asks the government to use the study's findings to provide a specific framework for the sharing economy that facilitates consumer access to justice.

The research "Dispute resolution mechanisms proposed by sharing economy platforms - Effective tools for access to justice?" was carried out thanks to a contribution from the Office of Consumer Affairs of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

About Option consommateurs

Option consommateurs is a not-for-profit association whose mission is to defend the rights and interests of consumers. It is closely involved in issues related to personal finance, business practices, financial services, protection of personal information, energy, health and agri-food.

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For more information or an interview:

Marie-Ève Dumont, Communications Consultant

514-777-6133

[email protected]

 

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