Alibaba.com Upgrades Complaint Process

Alibaba.com has introduced an online system for handling trade disputes and member complaints, replacing a cumbersome process that relied on e-mail exchanges to resolve problems between buyers and sellers. The new system allows Alibaba.com members to initiate complaints, submit supporting information such as photographs and correspondence, respond to complaints made against them, and monitor the progress of the resolution process, all through a standardized platform on the Alibaba.com website.

According to Alibaba.com’s Trust & Safety team, the system was developed to make it simpler and more transparent for members to seek help when their deals have gone bad and to improve efficiency in the dispute-resolution process. While it’s expected to decrease the average time it takes to complete cases, the system only went live on Dec. 1, so the company says it isn’t sure yet how much faster it will be.

Common disputes that Alibaba.com will try to mediate include transactions in which buyers never receive goods or sellers don’t receive payments, products being sold that do not match their descriptions on online storefronts, and other problems. Complaints about intellectual property and brand theft will continue to be handled separately through the Alibaba Intellectual Property Protection System.

The new complaint mechanism could also help Alibaba.com’s efforts to identify and eliminate scammers who use the website to defraud unwary buyers. Unlike in the previous e-mail-based system, in which disputes were handled manually on an almost ad hoc basis, complaint information and data can now be stored so that it can be more easily retrieved and analyzed, increasing the Trust & Safety team’s ability to detect fraudulent patterns and practices.