Helen Curtis applies to the Mediation Commission

Rail travel is more eco-friendly. And slower. Which is great when you’ve got time to look at the scenery and not so great when your train is so slow and delayed that you risk not getting to Rome in time to connect with the overnight sleeper to Paris. When our very late train limped into Naples we knew we had no chance of getting to Rome in time. Except there is Frecciarossa – that’s a very fast train, (and nothing to do with ferrero rocher). Frecciarossa – maybe the Italian version of HS2? – offered the chance of getting to Rome 10 mins before the sleeper left and was leaving Naples in less than 10. We ran around the station with the rest of the frenetic crowd. Confusion reigned with everyone asking how they could get to wherever they wanted to go. The credit card took the hit for new tickets, we jumped on the Frecciarossa and willed the train to go fast enough.

Back in London, Trenitalia offered a complaints process. I completed the form asking for the cost of tickets to be reimbursed and sent it off. The automatic acknowledgment said that there’d be a reply within 30 days. The reply 28 days later refused to reimburse the cost of the tickets saying that we should have asked Trenitalia customer services at Naples. Unrealistic to say the least. And if I’d done that we would’ve missed the chance of getting the fast train and not made the sleeper connection. I’m not happy and have been offered mediation. So I’ve filled in another form and supplied copies of tickets, receipts, credit card payment. There are lots of Consumer Associations which have signed the Italian Conciliation Protocol and the Mediation Commission will assign my case to one of them.

All this made me wonder how the EU ADR Directive and EU ODR Regulation set to be operational by 9th July 2015 and 9th January 2016 respectivley, will work. According to the ODR Regulation, an EU-wide online platform will be set up for dsiputes which arise from online transactions. The platform will link all the national alternative dispute resolution entities and will operate in all official EU languages.

The ADR Directive will ensure that consumers can turn to quality alternative dispute resolution entities for all kinds of contractual disputes that they have with traders; no matter what they purchased (excluding disputes regarding health and higher education) and whether they purchased it online or offline, domestically or across borders. There’ll be minimum quality standards and it’s hoped, consumer satisfaction.

We just caught the sleeper train in Rome, Frecciarossa having topped 300 kph making me think of where the balance between safety and profit in the private sector really lay. I’ll wait to hear what the Mediation Commission has to offer. It says I will have to accept or reject the mediation proposal within 15 days of being notified. At least I don’t have to wait until 2015.

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About helenc

mediator, barrister, restorative justice facilitator
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