Helpful addresses for German consumers

The European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) offers consumers advice on their rights when shopping in another EU-country.

Update: April 2018

The ECC-Net also offers a dispute resolution service. If necessary, ECC Germany can liaise directly with a trader via its sister Center in the country of purchase. Please note that ECC Germany does not deal with queries from German consumers about German traders. German consumers in those cases may turn to the eCommerce Contact Point Germany.

eCommerce Contact Point Germany

The eCommerce Contact Point Germany informs both sides, the entrepreneur/business man and the customer/consumer, about their rights and obligations with regard to e-commerce, especially according to German law.

If you would like more information, their website is available to help you. Here are some frequently asked questions about electronic or internet purchases:

  • When does the contract start?
  • Which are the rights and responsibilities in such a contract by both parties?
  • Who can help me when something goes wrong with the transaction?
  • Which legal advice and information centers are available for the user?
  • Which government bodies control purchases made over the internet?
  • Which other organizations are there to answer with questions about business or purchases via the internet?

If you have specific questions or a specific problem, please don't hesitate to contact them:

What you should also know:

The eCommerce Contact Point Germany is located at the Zentrum für Europäischen Verbraucherschutz e.V. (Centre for European Consumer Protection) in Kehl. The location of eCommerce Contact Point Germany at the Zentrum für Europäischen Verbraucherschutz e.V. was decided upon by the German Federal Ministry of Justice in Berlin. The decision also ensured that this national Contact Point for electronic commerce is financed by the government as of their decision on January 1, 2003.

This contact point is the result of the legal framework that the European Union has established for the promotion of internet and electronic business. The goal: To promote free movement of goods and services between the member states and to protect the consumer and to ensure legal certainty for providers. In this sense, the eCommerce Contact Point Germany cooperates within European networks with equivalent services.

German Contact Point for Online Dispute Resolution

As National Contact Point the European Consumer Centre Germany advises consumers and traders free of charge on the EU Online Dispute Resolution Platform (ODR platform). The platform serves as focal point for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in Europe. It enables the parties to make contact with the competent alternative dispute resolution entity (ADR entity) and settle disputes amicably via the platform. ODR contact points have been established in most EU-countries.

In Germany the ODR contact point is entitled to give advice in cases where consumers and traders reside in different EU-countries respectively, i.e. in cases of cross-border disputes. Our tasks include to

  •     give advice to all parties using the platform,
  •     inform of general consumer rights,
  •     inform of the different ADR entities and their procedures and
  •     give advice to consumers and traders on other means to enforce their rights.

Do not hesitate to contact us for assistance or additional information.

“Online-Schlichter” – an ODR body for online trading

The ODR body was created by the Zentrum für Europäischen Verbraucherschutz e.V. (Centre for European Consumer Protection) in Kehl and has started its work in June 2009. The project is financed by the Ministry for Environment, Energy, Agriculture and Consumer Protection of the German Federal State of Hessen and the Ministry for Rural Affairs and Consumer Protection of the German Federal State of Baden-Württemberg. The Federal states of Bavaria, Berlin, Rheinland-Pfalz and Schleswig-Holstein have also joined the ODR body in Kehl, as well as different Trade and Commerce federations, such as DEVK Insurance Group, the Label organization Trusted Shops or the BDD (National Federation of Direct Selling Companies). The ODR body is competent for the handling of eCommerce disputes, i.e. disputes over contracts which were concluded online. Since the project is financed by the ministry of several federal states, the ODR body is competent for consumer complaints of EU member states against a trader situated in any of these federal states as well as for consumer complaints arising from the participating federal states against a trader situated in any German federal state. The procedure is free of charge. Current plans of the German government foresee the extension of the “Online mediator” to the entire territory of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The ODR body conforms to the Commission Recommendations 98/257/CE and 2001/310/CE and was notified by the European Commission.

You can find out more about the Online-Schlichter on its website: www.online-schlichter.de. If you already have a complaint you can immediately start resolving the dispute by registering the case through the online standard form or you can turn to  the European Consumer Centre of your home-country (see list) which will forward the case to the Online-Schlichter via the European Consumer Centre Germany.

Do not hesitate to contact the Online-Schlichter directly at mail@online-schlichter.de

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