About the ODR platform
The Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform is provided by the European Commission to allow consumers and traders in the EU or Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein to resolve disputes relating to online purchases of goods and services without going to court.
The ODR platform is not linked to any trader. You can use it to take your complaint to an approved dispute resolution body.
A dispute resolution body is an impartial organization or individual that helps consumers and traders reach an out-of-court settlement. This is usually quicker and cheaper than going to court.
The ODR platform is easy to use and takes users through the dispute resolution process in a step-by-step fashion. It provides translations in all EU languages and has inbuilt time limits for resolving complaints.
Using ODR, consumers can get fair outcomes for free or for a very small charge, while traders can avoid costly litigation procedures and maintain good customer relations.
How to make a complaint
1. Make a complaint
To create a complaint the consumer and trader both have to be based in the EU or Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.
Start by filling in the online complaint form. Enter a few details about yourself, the trader, your purchase and what your complaint is about. Upload any relevant documents (e.g. invoice, purchase order).
You can submit your complaint right away, or save it as a draft.
You have 6 months to submit your complaint if you do save it as a draft. After that, all drafts are automatically deleted for data protection reasons.
2. Choose a dispute resolution body
Once the trader has agreed to use the dispute resolution procedure to address your complaint, you will have 30 days to agree on the dispute resolution body that will handle your dispute.
The trader will send you, via the platform, the name(s) of one or more dispute resolution bodies able to deal with it. It's advisable to read the information provided about these dispute resolution bodies (fees, geographical coverage, procedures, etc.) to make sure they handle complaints like yours.
You can agree to one of them to handle your complaint or request a new list. If you created your complaint without registering, you must now sign into the system to register. If necessary, create an ODR account.
If you cannot agree on a dispute resolution body within 30 days, your complaint will not be processed further through the platform.
3. Resolve your complaint
Once the dispute resolution body reaches an outcome on your complaint it will indicate this in the ODR platform.
You will receive an alert that your complaint has an outcome. You will need to log into your account to read the outcome.
You can view our detailed user guide for a step-by-step tutorial for using the ODR platform.
Things to check before making a complaint
- You live in an EU country or in Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
- The trader is based in an EU country or in Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
- Your complaint is about a good or service you bought online
- You have the right email address for the trader
- You have already contacted the trader about your complaint
- This is the first time you are trying to reach an out-of-court settlement with the trader
- You have not previously taken the trader to court over your complaint
What happens if my complaint is not resolved
There are a number of reasons why the online dispute resolution process might not be able to resolve your complaint. Knowing why will help you make a stronger case.
Traders are not obliged to engage in the online dispute resolution process, so a trader can refuse to accept your complaint through the ODR platform. Having the ODR link on their website does not automatically mean a trader will engage in the process, hence it is good practice to ask the trader if they participate in ODR before proceeding.
Your complaint can also be closed if you are unable to agree with the trader on the dispute resolution body that will handle your case within 30 days of your complaint being accepted on the platform.
In specific limited circumstances, the dispute resolution body you have chosen might not accept your case (for example, where a consumer has not contacted the trader before making a complaint). To avoid any issues at a later stage make sure you have gone through the checklist before making a complaint.
If your case is not resolved, there are other means of redress you can try to find a solution.
Go to Consumer rights to learn how you can make your complaint as strong as possible, or find other means of redress if ODR cannot help you.
How to complain if you are a trader
If you are a trader based in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg or Poland, you can also use the ODR platform to make a complaint against a consumer for a dispute concerning goods and services purchased online
To create a complaint, you first need to register in the system and create your organisation. If you are already registered, you just need to log in. Once on your dashboard, click on "Create new complaint".
To find out more about registering as a trader, go to Traders’ section.