Online Dispute Resolution (ODR)
What is ODR?
Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is a type of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process for online shopping.
ADR is a way to resolve complaints without having to go to court. ADR is where an independent third party helps you to resolve an ongoing dispute with a business using mediation, conciliation or arbitration.
ODR is conducted entirely online. It is available for online sales in Ireland and the EU. It is particularly useful when you and the business are in different countries.
The ODR platform
The ODR platform is a free online tool to allow you to make a complaint about products or services you bought online.
The platform is provided by the European Commission and aims to make cross-border online disputes easier to solve.
Make a complaint using ODR
You can use the ODR platform to:
- Contact the business to solve your problem directly
- Use a dispute resolution body
Complete the online form
To create a complaint, fill in the online complaint form.
You can create an ODR account or sign into your existing account, or create a complaint without registering but you will need to register later on.
You first need to go through some screening questions.
Then you are asked to enter a few details about yourself, the business, your purchase and what your complaint is about. Explain what your preferred solution would be.
Upload any relevant documents (for example an invoice or order confirmation).[AK4]
Contact the business
As part of the online complaint form, you ask to talk with the business directly.
The platform notifies the business of your request.
If the business is willing to talk, you will be able to exchange messages directly through the ODR dashboard.
You have 90 days to reach an agreement through direct talks.
If the business has not engaged with the process within 30 days, the case will be closed.
Use a dispute resolution body
If the business does not want to resolve the problem with you directly on the platform, they can suggest a list of ADR bodies to use instead.
You have 30 days to agree on which body to use or your case will be closed.
If you agree to one of the ADR bodies suggested by the company, you confirm this on the platform.
Your dispute will automatically be transferred to the ADR body for consideration.
The ADR body will handle the complaint online and will have 90 days to make their decision.
Either you or the business can withdraw from the process at any time.
Does the business have to participate?
In most cases, companies do not have to participate in ADR schemes.
However, all companies who sell products or services online in the EU must include the following on their website:
- A link to the ODR platform
- An email address for a point of contact for consumer complaints
Get more help
EU Member States must have a designated body to support the ODR platform.
The designated body is the national contact point to help you use the ODR platform.
In Ireland the contact point for the ODR is the European Consumer Centre (ECC) Ireland.
ECC Ireland can:
- Give you support on how to use the ODR tool (website)
- Help facilitate communication between you, the business and the ADR body
- Give you advice about other options to solve your problem, for example the European Small Claims Procedure.
The rules covering ODR are set out in the European Union (Online Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes) Regulations 2015.
Read more about Alternative Dispute Resolution.
ECC Ireland has more information about online dispute resolution.
You can also download a guide to the EU online dispute resolution (ODR) platform (pdf).