Mediation has been a popular alternative to lawsuits to resolve disputes, especially those involving small amounts of money. For businesses, conflicts between state and international laws have made dispute resolution costly, no matter how big the transaction.
St. Louis retiree David Hubert couldn’t have been happier to score a replica of a $3,000 Charles Eames leather chair on eBay – for only $450. When it arrived, he tore open the box, pulled away the bubble wrap, and immediately sunk into the chair to ease his bad back. “As soon as I sat in it, I could tell…whoa, this isn’t right,” he says.
“It had a bad mildew smell – I mean, a really bad mildew smell.” Distraught, Hubert emailed the seller to demand that he either pay to clean the chair or take it back. The seller refused. “He basically stonewalled me,” Hubert says. So Hubert filed a grievance with SquareTrade, a San Francisco-based startup that helps resolve disputes on eBay.