MEDIATION ARBITRATION RESOLUTION SERVICES
ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION SPECIALISTS
May 22, 2000
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
Re: Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Transactions in the Borderless Online Marketplace
Dear Mr. Secretary:
We at Mediation Arbitration Resolution Services (MARS) would like to thank you, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce for the opportunity to present our comments, along with those already submitted, regarding this important and timely topic. We believe that in order to foster consumer confidence in e-commerce and to insure effective consumer protection online that consumers must have access to fair and effective redress for problems arising in the online marketplace. We also believe in the development and implementation of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) programs that provide consumers with a transparent, fair, quick, and inexpensive form of dispute resolution arising from the engagement of online transactions.
Our management team brings experience in ADR, information technology, and public policy. We are indeed fortunate that our Director of Strategic Planning, Dr. Charles Goldman has helped to guide us in the development of ADR programs for both the traditional marketplace as well as online. However, we consider the mediators and arbitrators our most important resource. The integrity of our program depends on the independence and objectivity of our mediators and arbitrators. We assure the integrity of our mediators and arbitrators by vesting authority in our Director of Mediator/Arbitrator Programs, Dr. Catherine Kaiser who guides the recruitment and training for our Select Panel of Mediators and Arbitrators.
We have focused the development and implementation of our ADR programs on the services we believe will be needed in order to address the concerns of the international online community with ways to resolve disputes arising out of transactions taking place in e-commerce. We urge the adoption of the six principles stated here.
1) Consumer choice: The online consumer should have a choice of ADR providers and program formats to provide for a fair, easy to use, timely and inexpensive way to resolve a dispute. To that end we have developed three programs: (1) the MARS ADR program of Negotiation, Mediation and either binding or non-binding Arbitration, (2) the SuperSettle ADR program which uses a blind bidding format, and (3) our Fair & Square ADR program which uses a fast track format designed specifically for online dispute resolution.
2) Variety of interactions: That various methods of communications which include teleconferencing, videoconferencing and the Internet can be used to facilitate the ADR conferences. That the parties to the dispute are not burdened by having to meet at a specific time or place in order to carry out the ADR conference. That even though the ADR conference can be held entirely online, we will have Customer Service Representatives available so that our clients can contact us directly by telephone or E-mail for information or to have questions about their case addressed.
3) Fair and ethical: Services must offer a fair, ethical and effective dispute resolution process involving a panel of knowledgeable and experienced Negotiators, Mediators, and Arbitrators. These individuals must be trained in the use of the new methods of conducting the ADR process in order to insure that the disputants receive an equitable resolution to their dispute. We advocate the use of third party providers such as AT&T Interpreter Services when disputes that cross international borders involve disputants from different countries and who speak different languages.
4) Enabled by technology: The latest technology should be employed to develop the infrastructure, programs, and databases to implement and provide the ability to effectively carry out online disputes. Our ADR programs can be found on our website at www.resolvemydispute.com.
5) Access: Online merchants should provide the opportunity for companies offering online ADR services access to their websites in appropriate locations in order to insure that consumers have the greatest possible choice in selecting the facilitator that will provide them with the services best suited to resolving their disputes. We reject a model that will bind a single ADR provider to an e-commerce forum.
6) Merchant acceptance: Online merchants must be willing to participate in the resolution of online disputes in order to give consumers confidence that when there is a problem with an online transaction there will be a way to resolve the dispute arising from it. Furthermore, effective ways of implementing the awards that come out of the ADR process must be found.
We would like to participate in the Workshop on June 6th and 7th, and be part of a panel discussing the implementation of ADR programs that will be used to resolve disputes arising out of transactions taking place in e-commerce. Thank you for your consideration.
Mediation Arbitration Resolution Services
 Dr. Charles Goldman, our Director of Strategic Planning, has a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science from MIT and a PhD from Stanford University in Business and Economics. He serves on the staff of a major international think tank.
 Dr. Catherine Kaiser, our Director of Mediator/Arbitrator Programs, is an experienced Mediator/Arbitrator who has provided services for such organizations as the American Arbitration Association.
5632 Van Nuys Blvd. ~ Suite 206 ~ Van Nuys, CA 91401
(818) 865-8828 ~ 1-888-769-MARS (6277)