We used to buy goods and services in person. We’d introduce ourselves, look each other in the eye, and negotiate the terms of the transaction. If we thought it was a good deal, we’d seal it with a handshake. That handshake was more than a kind gesture – it signaled that if any problem arose, both sides were committed to getting it resolved quickly and fairly. That handshake was our personal trustmark.
Nowadays, it’s harder to close deals with a handshake. We can buy items from all over the world with just a few swipes on our iPhones, but when problems arise (as they inevitably do) the next step is often unclear. On the internet it is difficult, if not impossible, to tell the good merchants from the bad merchants, and the processes for resolving disputes are often confusing or hard to find. Customer service can feel like a runaround (e.g. long hold times, unfair refund policies) and formal redress mechanisms that work in the face-to-face world, like the courts, are generally impractical for online purchases — especially when purchases are low value and cross several legal jurisdictions.
The New Handshake: Online Dispute Resolution and the Future of Consumer Protection focuses on this lack of trust and access to remedies for online transactions. This groundbreaking book proposes a design for a “New Handshake” for the online world. This New Handshake uses Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) to provide fast and fair resolutions for low-dollar claims, such as those in most B2C (Business-to-Consumer) contexts. This revolutionary system is designed to operate independently of the courts, thereby eliminating procedural complexities and choice of law concerns. Furthermore, it can be integrated directly into the websites where transactions take place. It would provide consumers with free access to remedies, while saving businesses from costs and complexities of court. The New Handshake aims to rebuild trust in the B2C marketplace, and provide a blueprint for the future of online consumer protection.
This is not your typical “law” or “business” book. Instead, is a collaborative effort of a business leader and a law professor. The result is essential reading for:
Law and business students
ODR systems designers
The New Handshake can be purchased on the ABA website here: