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Last checked: 04/02/2019

Informal dispute resolution for consumers

Contact the trader

As a first step, approach your trader's customer service department - contact details are normally on the trader's website. Tell them they've failed to comply with EU or national law, and ask them to resolve the problem. You can refer them to their obligations, as summarised on this page. It's always a good idea to back up your claim with evidence (invoice, contract, etc.). If this approach doesn't work, consider taking the matter further.

Sample story

Customer service teams can often solve your complaint

Jutta, from Germany, was dissatisfied with her internet connection speed, which was lower than that stated in her contract.

She contacted her internet provider to complain, which prompted them to increase their connection speed. Jutta didn't need to take any further action.

If you and the trader cannot settle your contractual dispute directly, the trader has to inform you about further steps, such as:

Contact a consumer organisation or regulatory authority

Consumer organisations in your country can usually also:

If you have a problem with a service provider, you can also contact the competent national regulatory authorities. Each sector has its own national regulatory authorities, whose specific remit may vary from country to country. Many regulatory authorities have specific procedures for service providers in their sector and can resolve disputes fairly and quickly.

Find out more about:

European Consumer Centres

If you have any problems when purchasing goods or services abroad in the EU, Norway or Iceland, contact one of the European Consumer Centres (ECC-Net). These centres can:

European Consumer Centres can help you free of charge if:

Sample story

Sofia, from Portugal, bought a laptop from a Spainish online retailer. Unfortunately, when the laptop arrived she discovered that it didn't work properly. The trader advised her to send it back to the manufacturer for repair. She did so, but it wasn't long before she had the same problem again.

Sofia contacted the trader again to ask for a refund, but was told this wouldn't be considered until the laptop had been repaired 3 times. She decided to contact ECC Portugal for help. The Portuguese office shared the case with its counterpart in Spain, which contacted the trader. Following the intervention of the Spanish ECC, the trader collected the laptop and gave Sofia a full refund of EUR 445.92

If you contact the trader or a European Consumer Centre, as described above, you still have the right to bring a case before a court at a later stage.

Need more information on rules in a specific country?

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