New Dispute Resolution requirements for all online sellers

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Whilst UK Politicians are gearing up to takes side on the In/Out EU referendum, another piece of EU legislation is about to hit all online sellers who trade outside their home country. For us in the UK, that means if you sell to France, Germany or any other EU country you need to read on:

ODR for cross border traders

According to European Regulation on Consumer ODR (ODR Regulation), all businesses selling goods or services online within the EU must carry the following link on their website to the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Platform.

Technically you’re already in breach of the regulations as they were due to come into effect on the 9th of January. However the EU didn’t have their website ready which will now launch on the 15th of February.

Basically to sum it up, you have to provide a link to the EU’s online dispute resolution service so that buyers can complain about you there rather than the more expensive option of taking you to court. The idea is that you and your problem buyer will be able to sort things out relatively amicably and without racking up legal fees.

What actions do you need to take?

Participation in the ODR is optional, but even if you choose not to participate there are some requirements for all business sellers. Online retailers including marketplace sellers must link to the ODR platform in an easily accessible place.

Seriously guys, we know you’ve just edited all your eBay listings to meet the Product Identifier requirements. We don’t believe you can stick the link in your Business Seller Information which would be a one time easy update as it’ll be text only, not a live link.

If you have an “About Us” page in your shop we’d suggest you stick the link their and have done with it (and if you don’t create a shop page to place the link on). It’s hard to recommend appending it to each and every item description as frankly it doesn’t form part of your product description. Whilst of course we have to suggest you obey the letter of the law, this is one instance where we’d suggest doing the absolute minimum required. The chance are that if you’ve bothered reading this far you’re a reputable seller who will rectify any customer issues before it gets to ODR or goes legal.

An eBay spokesperson confirmed the news saying “All affected Cross Border Trade sellers will be required to comply with the new rules and display the link to the ODR website. Our current advice for sellers can be found at “.

ADR for UK sellers

As far as the ODR goes you don’t have to worry if you only ever sell to the UK or other countries outside the EU. Unfortunately however, there is another bit of legislatio, which will still apply to you, the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

As with the ODR, the regulations do not make participation in ADR schemes mandatory for traders. However perversely they do require almost all online retailers to point the consumer to a certified ADR scheme – where they cannot resolve a dispute in-house – and declare whether or not they intend to use that scheme.

In other words you could point your disgruntled customer to an approved ADR scheme and then tell them you have no intention of using ADR and you’ll see them in court (or more likely you’ll just resolve the issue and move on).

45 Responses

  1. EU Directives are not laws they are guidance for EU state members to make laws this is scaremongering nothing more

  2. .
    Most online buyers use some sort of payment card and are therefore fully covered by that payment method, end of………

  3. roll on the referendum,
    these people fail to understand that we need to trade sometimes, justifying their salary does not pay mine

  4. Surely the obvious solution is for Ebay to insert this somewhere.

    Sorry to disappoint tinker, but please do not live under the illusion that leaving the EU will solve all your problems. Fact is that if as suggested we enter trade agreements with the EU we will still both pay huge fees to the EU, and be subject to their rules for trading there. This a fact analysts on both sides agree about. Countries such as Norway already do this. There is a huge amount of disinformation circulated.

    The difference is that the EU will still make their laws and we will have zero influence, whereas right now we are still seen as an influential member state, maybe not Germany, but worth paying attention to. And we who will have no say will have to comply with these laws if we want to trade with EU.

    There is also no suggestion that coming out of the EU will in any way relax UK law on distance selling. So don’t get your hopes up on this one.

  5. Despite what both sides tell you the genuine answer, I think, is that nobody really knows.

    From my point of view at least in the EU it is a relatively known situation and a degree of certainty is better for business, whereas outside represents a big unknown risk. Secondly, the EU still represents a huge market growth opportunity for the UK. Think what will happen as standards of living and incomes start to rise in the eastern countries. If we are outside the club, whether we like it or not, we will be competing with one arm tied behind our backs, and I think that is no good for either business owners or employees.

  6. what at first glance seemed like non-news, suddenly looks like a great thing…..

    for us ebay sellers, i’m fairly certain its ebay who should be complying with this legislation.
    since they now have to offer fair and independent arbitration, that should be the end of completely biased and unfair unilateral ebay decisions, no?

  7. and as for the EU debate…

    how many of you during the Scottish independece deabate, where all about “bigger is better, stronger is better, together is better, why break a union, strength in numbers, blah blah blah”,
    yet when it comes to Europe, say

  8. Every year they have common riding events in the scottish borders based on events that happened hundreds of years ago. The young men sing anti english songs , so graphic and racist, that if they were directed at gays or coloured they would be arrested

  9. As with the scots blaming problems on Westminster,
    Westminster blames Brussels ,
    so the Germans best watch out everything will be their fault if we leave the EU, LOL

  10. Please remember that leaving the EU would mean it would be more difficult to sell your items to EU Countries. Currently there is no customs duty within the EU. So you can buy items in the EU online without having to pay customs duty, and you can sell to the EU without the hassle of Customs Forms and declaring your goods correctly.

    If the UK leaves the EU then it will make buying and selling in the EU much more complicated and expensive.

    The cost of mailing items to the EU would also increase as the Parcel Companies will need to calculate customs clearance into their prices (similar as it is when sending to the USA)

  11. I contacted Ebay yesterday and was told that there has been no training given to staff about this (he had never heard of it) and so we should not worry about it. He assured me that if any such changes needed to be made, they would put out another one of their “spend 2 days changing all your listings yet again” announcements to cover it.

  12. Of course there is every chance that the EU may impose high import duties on UK goods as punishment for leaving, though thats a whole new argument

  13. Must admit I am leaning towards the stay in an influence argument ,as its going to be just as complicated costly and involved to leave as it is to stay in the EU

  14. This article is a little misleading especially the first paragraph. If you read the actual legislation and the Department of BIS’ associated guidelines – The requirement for publishing the link to the ODR platform on your website applies to anyone selling online, regardless of whether you are selling things in a different country or not.


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