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E-Mediate Needs

Caught in an e-commerce clash? Use an e-mediator.

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This story appears in the July 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Buying and selling online wins rave reviews from entrepreneurs who can find the supplies they need with a few keystrokes and easily reach customers halfway around the world. But if a deal goes sour and you can't fix it with phone calls or e-mails, what can you do?

A growing number of businesses are turning to online mediation to solve this problem. Like traditional mediation, this process inserts a neutral party to help work out a solution. The mediator identifies issues, helps each party assess options and relays settlement offers--either in a private chat room or through one of the websites offering the service. The process is convenient and can help eliminate the posturing that often goes with traditional negotiation.

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