Last checked: 04/08/2022

Out-of-court procedures for consumers

If you have a problem with a product or service that you bought, for example if a trader refuses to repair a product or refund you money, you can try to settle the dispute out of court using an alternative dispute resolution procedure.

If your dispute relates to a product or service you bought online, you can also submit your complaint online via the online dispute resolution (ODR) website.

Alternative dispute resolution is usually a low-cost and simple procedure that can stop you having to take your case to court.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative dispute resolution procedures are provided by neutral out-of-court bodies such as conciliators, mediators, arbitrators, the ombudsman and complaints boards. They can bring you and the trader together to help find a solution to your dispute. They can also propose a solution or even impose one.

Alternative dispute resolution bodies have to meet strict EU quality criteria, which guarantee that they handle your dispute in an effective, fair, independent and transparent way. Most of them can help you free of charge or at a low cost. They usually reach an outcome within 90 days. Under EU law, you can use these bodies to handle all contractual disputes you may have with a trader established in the EU.

Alternative dispute resolution can be used for any market sector (such as transport, banking, telecoms, energy, electronic goods, household appliances, car rental or dry cleaning).

Find a dispute resolution body in your countryOpen as an external link.

Sample story

Dispute resolution bodies can help you

Arvidas from Lithuania received a bill from his internet provider that was higher than stated in his contract.

Having tried in vain to sort out the problem with the trader, Arvidas turned to the relevant alternative dispute resolution body in Lithuania, where he was able to find a solution at a minimum of inconvenience to him.

Online Dispute Resolution

If you have a dispute with a trader in an EU country over goods or services you bought online, you can use the EU online dispute resolution site. This website is available in all EU languages and is free of charge.

If you submit a complaint through the EU online dispute resolution site, you and the trader will need to agree on the alternative dispute resolution body that will handle your dispute. Each body has its own rules and procedures, possibly including fees. But don't worry, you can get help and information from your national contact pointOpen as an external link at any stage of the procedure.

Sample story

Try fixing your complaint using online dispute resolution

Michaela from Czechia bought a new smartphone online from a trader in Germany. The phone did not correspond to what she had ordered and she couldn't reach a solution with the trader so she submitted her complaint through the EU online dispute resolution site.

With Michaela and the trader's agreement, the appropriate alternative dispute resolution body handled the case, which resulted in Michaela receiving a new smartphone. The solution was found in an easy and low-cost way and the procedure was done entirely online.

EU legislation

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