The Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) and the Korea Consumer Agency (KCA) have signed an agreement to offer cross-border dispute resolution for Korean consumers who purchase goods and services from companies in North America, and for consumers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico who purchase from companies in the Republic of Korea.
The Memorandum of Understanding is “to establish a foundation for bilateral cooperation between the Parties in jointly resolving consumer disputes related to cross-border transactions, such as overseas travel and electronic commerce.” It was signed at the CBBB offices outside Washington D.C. by Han Kyeon-pyo, president of KCA, and Mary E. Power, president and CEO of CBBB.
“Cross-border transactions between Korea and the U.S. will keep increasing,” said Han. “Accordingly the KCA will cooperate with BBB closely to prevent and resolve potential consumer complaints. The MoU is the first step of this cooperation, and I hope BBB and the KCA can contribute to a better consumer life through this cooperation.”
“Commerce no longer has borders, and this agreement will help make sure that difficulties don’t stop at the border, either,” said Power. “BBB has been handling disputes between consumers and businesses for more than a century, and we are delighted to extend our services to the citizens of the Republic of Korea. We also welcome the opportunity to work cooperatively with businesses and entrepreneurs in Korea. There is no better tool for building trust in the marketplace than giving consumers and businesses a neutral third-party they can turn to when they need help resolving a problem.”
The new cross-border complaint handling system will refer complaints from consumers in one location against businesses in the other. The complaints must concern marketplace transactions or advertising, and may involve purchases that took place online, by mail, or in person.
CBBB has a similar dispute resolution agreement in place with Japan, while KCA has established agreements with Japan and Vietnam, and is anticipating similar agreements with China, ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the European Union.
BBB handles more than 870,000 complaints a year from consumers who have a marketplace dispute with a business based in North America. KCA offers consumer redress service to citizens, as well as oversea consumers, who have a problem with a Korean company. It handled more than 816,000 complaints last year, including nearly 9,000 cross-border disputes.