Technology and Consumer Empowerment: a Mobile Application for Consumer Mediation in Catalonia (Geoconsum)

Josep Suquet-Capdevila

Abstract


The lack of consumer awareness of mediation and other methods of ADR/ODR hinders the effectiveness of dispute resolution. Consumers are not always aware of what entity can be of help should they experience a problem with a product or a service. This work shows the process of implementing a database on consumer mediation and information. It also shows a mobile application, named Geoconsum that has been developed to offer the information to end-users. The database contains, on the one hand, a comprehensive treatment of consumer mediation bodies in Catalonia. On the other hand, it also encompasses a set of normative applicable dispositions, including different levels of legislation and encompassing both hard and soft law instruments. The article shows the methodology and the challenges of implementing the database. It also shows the functionalities of the mobile application. Geoconsum is a mobile application with appropriate, low-cost, basic technology and geolocation parameters. Consumers may download such application into their smartphone. Upon request, the application provides the contact details of the entity searched for. It redirects the user to the entity’s web page, allowing emailing the entity’s representative, or displays the entity’s telephone number, allowing making a phone call. The device also works as a mapping service application since it offers a route planner to access the nearest consumer mediation entity.


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