Consumers can use the EU Commission's platform for online dispute resolution to contact ADR bodies throughout Europe or to find a solution by a direct talk with the company. The National Contact Point Germany supports consumers in Germany who want to open a case against an online trader in another EU country.
Useful information: All over Europe, alternative dispute resolution bodies (ADR bodies) help consumers and traders to solve their disputes amicably: they are neutral, quick, competent and often free of charge. They are not yet available in Iceland.
European online dispute resolution platform
If the contract was concluded online, consumers can use the European Online Dispute Resolution Platform (ODR platform) to contact the competent ADR body.
The platform is the central access point to all ADR bodies in Europe and is most useful if traders and consumers come from different European countries. In many cases, the competent ADR body is based in the country of the trader.
As German ODR contact point, the European Consumer Centre Germany advises consumers, online traders and ADR bodies on the ODR platform and offers guidance throughout the procedure. Questions may concern:
- The functionality of the platform,
- consumer law,
- ADR bodies (jurisdiction, rules of procedure etc.) and
- other means to enforce consumer claims, - if ODR/ ADR cannot help.
Submit a complaint
The procedure is divided into four steps. The German ODR contact point provides for a graphic representation to explain and summarise the procedure:
- The consumer submits his complaint via the online form.
- The online trader is automatically informed about the complaint and asked to propose an ADR body. Both parties have 30 days now to agree on an ADR body. If the online trader does not propose an ADR body or no agreement can be reached, the complaint is closed.
- If the consumer accepts the proposed ADR body, the ODR platform automatically transfers the complaint to it.
- After the ADR body has received all documents from both parties, it will assess the case and propose a solution within 90 days.
The platform also offers the possibility for consumers to find a solution directly with the trader by sending a request of direct talk. Together, a solution can be found or an agreement reached in a direct dialogue. If no solution can be found via direct talks, the request can be converted into a complaint.
Usefull information: Online traders are not obliged to participate in ODR procedures. For both parties the use of the platform is voluntary. If the complaint is closed, consumers can turn to the German ODR contact point in order to get help.