The online dispute resolution platform (ODR) is provided by the European Commission to allow consumers and professionals in the EU or Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein to resolve disputes regarding the online purchase of products and services without having to go to court.
The ODR platform is not connected to any professional. You can use it to send a complaint to an authorised dispute resolution body.
A dispute resolution body is an organisation or impartial person who helps consumers and professionals to settle. This procedure is called alternative dispute resolution and is usually faster and less expensive than resorting to the courts.
The ODR platform uses only dispute resolution bodies authorized by the respective national governments based on qualitative criteria associated with fairness, transparency, efficacy and accessibility.
The ODR platform is easy to use and guides users through the whole procedure. It is available in all EU languages and has integrated deadlines for resolving complaints.
How to file a complaint
1. Lodging a complaint
To lodge a complaint, the consumer and the trader must both be located in the EU or Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
To begin with, fill out the online complaint form. Enter some information about yourself, the merchant, the purchase and why you are making a complaint. Upload the relevant documentation (e.g. invoice, purchase order, etc.).
You can send the complaint right away or save it as a draft.
You have 6 months to file your complaint if you save it as a draft. After that, all drafts will be automatically deleted for data protection reasons.
2. Select a dispute resolution body
Once the merchant has agreed to use the dispute resolution procedure to deal with the complaint, you will have 30 days to agree on a dispute resolution body that can handle the case.
The merchant will send you, via the platform, the name of one or more dispute resolution bodies that can handle it. You should read the information provided on dispute resolution bodies (fees, geographic coverage, procedures, etc.) to make sure they can handle complaints like the one you have filed.
You can accept one of the proposed bodies or ask for a new list. If you created the complaint without registering, you must now log in to the system to register. If necessary, create an ODR account.
In the absence of agreement on a dispute resolution body within 30 days, your complaint will not be further processed through the platform.
3. Get a solution
Your complaint will be sent to the dispute resolution body you have agreed to appeal to.
If the dispute resolution body can deal with the case and reach a solution, you will receive a notice through the platform.
Even if the dispute resolution body cannot handle your case, you will receive a notification stating the reason.
For detailed information on how to use the ODR platform, you can consult the user manual.
4. What to check before filing a complaint
- You live in an EU country or Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
- The trader is based in an EU country or Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
- The complaint concerns a product or service purchased online
- You have the merchant’s right email address
- You have already contacted the merchant regarding the complaint
- It is the first time that you try to find an out-of-court solution with the merchant
- You have never filed a lawsuit against the merchant
5. What happens if the dispute is not resolved
There can be various reasons why the dispute cannot be resolved through the online resolution procedure. Understanding why will help you better argue your position.
Merchants are not required to participate in the online dispute resolution procedure: they can, therefore, refuse to accept your complaint via the ODR platform. The fact that a trader has a link to the ODR platform on their website does not automatically mean that they will participate in the procedure. For this reason, it is good practice to ask the merchant if they intend to cooperate before proceeding.
The complaint can be closed even when you cannot find an agreement with the merchant on the dispute resolution body that can handle the case within 30 days of the complaint being accepted on the platform.
In certain cases, the dispute resolution body you have chosen may not accept your case (e.g. if you have not contacted the merchant before filing a complaint). To avoid any problems at a later stage, make sure you’ve read the checklist before making a complaint.
If the case is not resolved, there are other means of finding a solution.