A New Digital System Helps Resolve Consumer Complaints Across Indonesia

Five people in a meeting

The surge in online shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic led to a substantial increase in the number of consumer complaints, placing extraordinary stress on the National Consumer Protection Agency (BPKN). Meanwhile, consumers in remote areas who cannot easily get to a consumer protection office to file a complaint run the risk of being further left behind.

Enter UNCTAD, which has been supporting countries around the world in the design of digital systems and platforms for the efficient handling of consumer complaints. In 2022, UNCTAD worked with BPKN to define the specifications of an online system that would assist the agency in handling the increased caseload and enable consumers to submit complaints via the Internet.

The new system will “make access to justice easier across the country,” said Valentina Rivas, Programme Management Officer of UNCTAD’s technical cooperation project, called ‘Delivering digital trading infrastructure and online dispute resolution for consumers as a means to improve international trade and electronic commerce.’

The new system provides businesses access to the same dispute resolution platform, and therefore to the complaints filed against them, to foster more opportunities for the two sides to find an amicable solution during a pre-negotiation period of seven days before the Government intervenes.

“International examples suggest that with such a system in place 90% of complaints can be resolved without government intervention, just between the consumer and the businesses,” Rivas said.

In March 2022, more than 100 officers involved in consumer protection attended a workshop to analyze the landscape of emerging technologies in consumer online dispute resolution, the use of available technologies as well as challenges and best practices.

This project “fosters international cooperation and understanding and will [lead to] a stronger commitment and concrete action to empower consumers,” said Rizal E. Halim, Chairman of BPKN. The design of the new system is expected to be finalized in 2023.