Dispute Resolutions

In the normal course of business, disputes are often inevitable. Parties may disagree regarding their obligations no matter how carefully a contract is written. The resolution of such disputes, however, need not be costly and acrimonious. Alternative means of dispute resolution can save time and money, and can help resolve the dispute while preserving valuable business relationships.

 

The goal of these rules is to provide a social environment which is both orderly and just.  We thrive to make our dispute rules as fair as possible, however, as always, there will be cases where such rules may appear unfair.  Please bear in mind that there is no such thing as a "perfect justice".  We are all humans and make mistakes, and our interpretations of "justice" differ from our past experiences, our convictions, our ethical background, and sometimes, our mood.

 

 

Why having a dispute fee?

Our competitors simply do not care about disputes, or they hire the cheapest labor for customer service and dispute resolutions.  Since filing a dispute is free, there is no incentive for our competitors to hire professional experts to resolve disputes.  As a result, you get your money's worth - a lousy service with a brainless unfair ruling.

 

At iGolder, we want all disputes to be resolved fairly.  By having a dispute fee, we greatly reduce frivolous claims while dispensing the dispute fee to hire an impartial expert to resolve the dispute.  The parties may also elect their arbitrator to resolve their disputes; the arbitrator may be specified in a clause of the contract, or at the very moment a dispute arise.  If a dispute arise and both parties are unable to agree on an arbitrator, then iGolder will resolve the dispute if the case is small, or appoint an arbitration specialist to resolve a larger dispute.

 

The dispute fee is 1 gr of gold plus 10% of the disputed amount.  If you elect your own arbitrator, you still need to pledge this amount as the dispute fee, and the arbitrator may refund your arbitration fee after the dispute has been resolved.

 

Disputes Within Safetransit

Most disputes should occur within Safetransit™.  Safetransit is a free tool protecting both the buyer and seller regarding a transaction.

 

First Step: Stop the Payment

To initiate a dispute, you must take action by clicking on the Stop Payment button located in the Payment Details page.  The request for stopping a payment will immediately pause the transaction and send an email to the other party regarding your discord.  You have to provide an explanation of your discord so the other party may respond to your inquiry.  It is amazing how many disputes can be resolved gracefully using proper communication.

 

Stopping a payment to initiate a dispute

 

Confirmation for stopping the payment

 

Ideally, the other party will respond to your inquiry and resolve the issue without involving any dispute fees.  For instance, if you overpaid for a product or service, the other party simply give you a partial refund for the extra amount, or ship you additional goods.  If shipping is running late, then the seller may accept the to wait a few more days until you receive the merchandise and release the payment.

 

iGolder provides a free private secure messaging for you to contact the merchant and express your concerns - use it freely.  Our confidential chat is the ideal tool for negotiation and the recorded chat conversation can later be used as a "witness" for arbitration.

 

Second Step: Pay the Arbitration Fee

When you stop a payment, you must be willing to pledge 1 gram of gold plus 10% of the disputed amount within 4 days.  This policy is to prevent abuse where people would impulsively stop payments, and also to cover the arbitration cost for resolving the dispute.  If you do not pay the arbitration fee within 4 days, then the transaction will resume as usual.

 

Pay the dispute arbitration fee

 

After you paid your arbitration fee, iGolder will send a message to the other party to invite him to pay his arbitration fee.  If the other party fails to pay his arbitration fee within 10 days, then you automatically win the dispute.  Again, you are welcome to make proposals and resolve the dispute by mutual agreement.  If you resume the transaction, the arbitration fee is automatically refunded.

 

The dispute fee has been paid

 

Third Step: The Other Party Pays the Arbitration Fee

Once you pledged your arbitration fee, the other party has 10 days to pledge the same amount of gold.  This way, the "innocent" party will get a full refund of the arbitration fee.   If the other party does not pledge the arbitration fee, then you win by default, meaning you get a full refund of your arbitration fee and the entire amount in Safetransit.  The other party is also subject to earn a Demerit Point, unless he really has a good reason (such as a long trip or hospital stay) which prevented him from participating in the dispute resolution.  Regardless of the excuse of the other party, your payment and dispute fee is nevertheless refunded if the other party fails to pledge the dispute fee.

 

 

Fourth Step: Wait for Arbitrator Decision

After both parties paid their arbitration fee, an arbitrator will be assigned to resolve the dispute case.  The arbitrator will ask both parties to submit their side of the dispute, and will make a decision based on facts.  Once an arbitrator begins the resolution of a dispute, the arbitration fee is non-refundable.

 

 

Disputes Arising Outside of Safetransit

Sometimes, a dispute may occur outside of Safetransit.  Certain transactions cannot be made with the Safetransit tool, such as sending a check for purchasing gold, or using an ATM debit card to exchange gold for cash.  Other times, a transaction may have occurred with Safetransit, however there are still issues.  An example would be the purchase of a product a warranty.  Upon receiving the product, the buyer inspects it and confirms the product is working fine, thus closes the transaction.  A few weeks later, the product breaks while the seller refuses to honor the warranty.

 

Filing a dispute outside of Safetransit is almost identical as any other type of disputes, thus requiring you to pledge one gram of gold plus 10% of the amount in dispute.  If the seller has a Dispute Reserve, then iGolder will freeze the disputed amount from that reserve until the dispute has been resolved.  If the seller does not has any Dispute Reserve, then an email will be sent to invite him to participate to the dispute resolution by transferring enough gold to cover the disputed amount plus the arbitration fees.  Because all payments are final and there is no such thing as a chargeback at iGolder, the seller will never be forced to give you a refund.  On the other hand, the seller has great incentives to collaborate because his reputation is at stakes; a failure to participate towards the resolution of the dispute will result in a reputation downgrade to Unreliable.

 

At the moment, we have not developed the interface for automating such disputes.  If you have a dispute claim outside of Safetransit, please contact us.  If the seller behaved in a dishonest way, we will manually issue a Demerit Point and may downgrade his reputation to Unreliable.  On the other hand, be prepared to answer questions and provide proofs regarding the validity of your dispute,

 

Arbitration Enforcement

If a member refuses to comply with the arbitration decision, then the member's account will be downgraded to the status of Unreliable.

  • An unreliable member immediately receives a zero reputation, meaning all his transactions fees are increased significantly for a period of 6 months.  It becomes therefore more expensive for the unreliable member to trade with others, and the total cost of being unreliable can be measured in grams of gold at the end of the 6-month period.
  • An unreliable member is no longer allowed to use any arbitration services provided by iGolder a period of 6 months.  Therefore the unreliable member cannot initiate disputes, nor effectively use the Safetransit tool, thus making him on his own if a problem occurs.
  • An Unreliable Warning is issued for every transaction made by the unreliable member, whatever he wants to buy, sell or exchange gold.  For a period of 6 months, a warning message is sent by email to any other party wishing to transact with him. The other party must manually acknowledge the desire to carry on the trade in order to complete the transaction.  Such email message is a powerful tool to pressure the recalcitrant merchant to comply with the arbitration verdict, because other members may ask for higher fees or even boycott him for breaking the rules.

Our goal is providing a cost-effective mean to enforce arbitration decisions to increase fairness when resolving disputes.  Over-punishing a member for ignoring an arbitrator's decision is not fair either.  We are all humans and make mistakes.  Although the arbitrator is impartial, meaning he/she does not take sides, the arbitrator does not have perfect knowledge of the dispute situation and may render an incorrect verdict. 

 

Who Pays For The Arbitration Fees?

Both parties must put the entire arbitration cost "into the pot", and the arbitration specialist refunds the "innocent party".  Ultimately, it is at the specialist's discretion to decide the amount refunded to the "innocent party".  By default, the arbitration cost will be allocated according to award percentage as in the following table, unless the ADR specialist decides to override:

 

Award Percentage Who Pays for Arbitration Fees?
No award Plaintiff pays 100%.  The plaintiff made a frivolous claim, therefore the merchant is innocent.
5% award Plaintiff pays 90% and merchant pays 10%.
10% award Plaintiff pays 80% and merchant pays 20%.
15% award Plaintiff pays 70% and merchant pays 30%.
20% Award Plaintiff pays 60% and merchant pays 40%.
25% Award Plaintiff pays 50% and merchant pays 50%.
33% Award Plaintiff pays 33.3% and merchant pays 66.7%.
40% Award Plaintiff pays 20% and merchant pays 80%.
50% Award Merchant pays 100%.  The rationale is the following: if the plaintiff can recover 50% (or more) of the
disputed amount, it means the merchant is nevertheless faulty.
Full award Merchant pays 100%.  The plaintiff is completely innocent and had a valid claim against the merchant.

 

Example of Arbitration

Suppose Alice purchased a boat from Bob for 100 grams of gold with the Safetransit™.  When she receives the boat, she discovered there is no GPS for navigation.  The contract stipulated the boat included a GPS.  Alice attempts to contact Bob, however without success.  Bob does not bother to respond.  She then files a dispute claiming 15 grams of gold for the value of the GPS.  Therefore, Alice must pledge (1 + 15*10%) = 2.5 grams of gold for the arbitration fee.  Since Alice is requesting a partial refund, Bob's arbitration fee is taken directly from the Safetransit reserve.  Besides, Bob never pledged any Dispute Reserve.

 

The ADR specialist determines a GPS can be purchased for 10 grams of gold, however because Bob did not honor his contract, an extra 3 grams is awarded as punitive damage.  Therefore Alice receives 13 grams of gold which represents an award percentage of 13 / 15 = 86.7%.  As a result, Bob has to bear the entire arbitration fee, so Bob is left with 100 - (13 + 2.5) = 84.5 grams of gold, and Alice spent 87 grams of gold for her boat.  Bob also receives a demerit point for not responding to Alice's request.

 

Now, let's take the same example, however this time Alice wants a refund of 50 grams of gold.  Alice must therefore pledge (1 + 50*10%) = 6 grams of gold as the arbitration fee.  Again, the arbitrator determines the GPS is worth 10 grams of gold and awards 3 grams as punitive damage.  This time Alice's award percentage is 13 / 50 = 26%, so both Alice and Bob must share the arbitration fees.  According to the formula from the table above, Alice pays 48% and Bob 52% of the arbitration fee, meaning 2.88 grams and 3.12 grams, respectively.

 

As you can see, by asking a larger amount, Alice received less gold.  In the first case, she was awarded 13 grams of gold and Bob had to pay the entire dispute fees.  In the second case, she was awarded again 13 grams of gold, however because her award percentage was only 26%, she had to pay almost half of the dispute fee, therefore Alice ended with 13 - 2.88 = 10.12 grams of gold.  The arbitrator may have also decided to award Alice only one gram as punitive damage because of her exaggerated claim, resulting in 8.12 grams for Alice.  When filing a dispute, it is important to make a reasonable request.  Alice's effective award has almost doubled, from 8.12 to 13 grams of gold.

 

Appealing the Decision of iGolder

If you feel iGolder has been unfair to you, you may bring your case to the International Centre for Dispute Resolution® (ICDR) at http://www.adr.org/icdr.  We will abide by the ruling of the ICDR.

 

Tips For Resolving Disputes

Please communicate with the merchant about the problem before filing for a complaint.  The merchant may not be aware of any problem, and without your feedback, he may rightfully assume everything is fine.  Figure out what needs to be done to resolve your problem, and be open to the merchant's suggestions.  A simple solution, such as a product replacement or partial refund, may be acceptable and gracefully close the issue without affecting anyone's reputation.

 

We encourage our members to use iGolder's private messaging to communicate with each other.  This chat is fully encrypted and recorded, so if a complaint escalates to a dispute requiring arbitration, then the arbitrator will have an "official" recording of the conversation to make a sound decision.  Each dispute is unique and must be handled accordingly, however here are some points the arbitrator may look for:

  • Chat conversation prior the purchase (if any).  iGolder's private chat assists the buyer and seller to negotiate their conditions before making a trade.  This way, the arbitrator has a "document" specifying the performances and obligations of each party.
  • Disputes should occur within the Safetransit™ system - that is, before completing a transaction.  If a dispute occurs after the transaction was completed, then the buyer must answer the hard question why he/she prematurely completed the transaction without considering the performance of the seller.  To ensure fairness, iGolder is willing to listen to every disputes, however we have a mechanism to penalize those with furious claims.  iGolder is fully aware certain types of transactions cannot be conducted using the Safetransit tool, such as exchanges involving an ATM debit card.  Also, depending on the good or service purchased, there may be other problems arising after closing a transaction, such as a product failure after delivery where the seller does not want to honor the warranty.
  • The outcome of a dispute decision may be affected by the buyer's delay to contact the merchant.  The buyer has a maximum period of 6 months to initiate a dispute against the seller.  However, waiting 5 months and 29 days to file a complaint is not to the buyer's advantage, as the buyer must answer the hard question why he waited so long to report the problem.
  • Efforts made by each party to resolve their differences, including politeness and reasonable delays.  In a chat conversation, it is often easy to notice one party trying to evade questions, or making little efforts in finding a solution.

Feedback Comment Removal

A member may file a dispute regarding a feedback comment.  The plaintiff must again pledge one gram of gold for iGolder to review the comment.  If the comment is removed, then the gram of gold will be refunded to the plaintiff.  A withdrawn feedback is not counted in feedback reputation scores or ratings, however the original feedback comment remains in the database in case of a future investigation.

 

Broken Merchandise Policy

If you ever received a broken merchandise, then you have the responsibility to take pictures from many angles to prove the merchandise was indeed broken.  We also recommend taking pictures of the box at the moment you received the package.  Sometimes the box is so damaged that just looking at it may reveal damaged merchandise.  Then, you must submit all pictures to iGolder and our staff will review them.  Do not throw away the broken product until the dispute has been resolved.  If you throw away the broken product, then iGolder will not take your claim seriously and your case will likely be dismissed.  Also, you must be prepared to return the broken merchandise to iGolder for arbitration, or to the seller for a product replacement.  As the plaintiff, you have to pay for the shipping fees, however the same amount is withheld from the seller's dispute reserve to refund your shipping fees.  If the merchandise was indeed broken, then the seller will have to re-send you a product replacement at his expense and give you a partial refund to cover the fees you incurred shipping the broken product back to him.  On the other hand, if you tried to cheat the seller with the "broken merchandise" trick to get a refund an keep the product for free, then you will get nothing.  Your arbitration case will be dismissed, meaning you will bear the full cost of the arbitration fees without any product.  The entire amount in Safetransit™ will go to the seller, and any amount withheld within the dispute reserve will be released to the seller.  Instead of receiving a free product, you may receive a demerit point.

 

It is the seller's responsibility to adequately package the product to withstand shipping.  The seller is expected to know how fragile the product is and pick an appropriate shipping method.  If the shipping company lost the package or damaged the product, then the seller may file a claim against the shipping company for non-performance or poor performance.  Most shipping company offer insurance coverage against such damages, however they often requires to see the damaged product before issuing a refund to the shipper.  If the shipping company was faulty, then the insurance should cover all the fees to replace the product and ship it again without incurring any extra cost to the seller.

 

 

Since August 1st, 2013 iGolder is no longer accepting new accounts and balances can only be redeemed. During the past years, we have been recommending Bitcoin more than our own payment system. We believe in physical gold ownership, and developed iGolder as a mechanism for people to acquire physical gold by trading with one another.

Since iGolder has a central point of failure (our server may be raided by thugs wearing some kind of uniform), we feet it is safer for us to cease operations. The iGolder experiment has been personally rewarding as we met many gold enthusiasts and also learned about Bitcoin in the process. For those who have no idea what Bitcoin is, we recommend doing your own research. Bitcoin is far superior to iGolder in every way, both in privacy and security as our server is always vulnerable to confiscation. Bitcoin is a communication protocol with a built-in "escrow service" capable of protecting both the buyer and the seller, rendering our Safetransit completely redundant. To learn more about the Bitcoin protocol and its feature, please watch "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mD4L7xDNCmA (Bitcoin 2012 London: Mike Hearn).

For those having gold in their iGolder account, we will ship the physical metal to anyone having more than 1 ounce of gold, assuming the owner is willing to assume the shipping costs. For smaller quantities, we offer to settle in Bitcoin, however we will also settle with any other reasonable payment system. We will give everyone at least two full years (until 2016) to contact us to claim their gold. After that period, any unclaimed gold will go to fund an economic development project in Honduras helping local people to become entrepreneurs.

We sincerely wish you the best in life and hope to keep in contact with you.

Yours in liberty,
The iGolder Team.


Update 2014: Since we announced we no longer accept gold transfers, we have received countless emails asking to keep the free gold charts and the PGP encryption tools. We plan to keep running the domain iGolder.com for both the gold charts and the encryption tools. Better, we are developing state of the art open-source software for a secure decentralized social network with a built-in wallet. We will announce when we have a product ready for use. Stay tuned!