Frequently Asked Questions

What function does apf have in ship traffic?

The function of apf is to assist passengers of ship companies which offer transport services in Austria in asserting their rights without going to court. apf sees itself as an independent broker between the ship companies and their customers.

Information on passenger rights for train, bus, ship and flight are also avaiable on the YOUR EUROPE portal.

What is an arbitration procedure?

Arbitration is a modern approach to conflict resolution that seeks to settle disputes without using the public court system. When there is a dispute that a passenger and a ship company cannot resolve themselves, the apf reviews the case and proposes an individual solution that will be acceptable to both sides.

Who can turn to apf?

Passengers purchasing their ticket from a ship company with their seat in Austria or from a company operating in Austria.

Do I have to pay anything for an arbitration procedure?

The arbitration procedure is free for the complainant. Should costs be incurred during the procedure caused by the complainant himself/herself such as postage and stationery costs, any eventual attorneys’ fees, etc., then they must be borne by the complainant.

When is it appropriate to contact apf?

apf does not replace complaints management at the particular ship company. Before apf can deal with your case you must attempt to reach agreement with the ship company. If no satisfactory results were obtained for you then we are happy to take on your case.

For what complaints does apf not have jurisdiction?

The apf does not process any complaints

  • that do not relate to carriage of passengers.
  • which were not first submitted to the company in question for resolution of the problem.
  • if it is not a matter of a ship trip from, to or within Austria or if the company concerned is not based in Austria.
  • submitted to apf later than two years after the date they were submitted to the company.
  • for claims, purported violations or purported illegal regulations pending in a court or administrative court or that have been definitively decided or arbitrated.
  • which have already been dealt with in an arbitration procedure.
  • for which another arbitration board for alternative dispute resolution has jurisdiction.
  • relating to disputes which are frivolous or vexatious.
  • whose processing could seriously impair apf’s efficient operation, such as because extensive taking of evidence would be required or because they concern unusually complex legal issues.
What does apf need in order to take action?
  1. Please provide us with all information and documentation in writing. Use the complaint form from the website for this purpose. If you do not have the possibility of attaching all documentation electronically then you can send them by post or fax. We need the following things from you: name, address, telephone number, where applicable fax number, where applicable email address.
  2. A complete written exposition of the facts in the case. Please describe what, exactly, happened.
  3. The written complaint which you already sent to the ship company.
  4. All documents which may be of assistance in clarifying your complaint (such as contact of carriage, student, apprentice or vocational school identification, free-travel beneficiary identification, discount card, penalty payment or extra fare charge, collection notice, taxi or hotel bills, etc.).
  5. The complete correspondence that has passed between you and the company.
  6. Your current claim against the company. What are we supposed to achieve for you?
  7. With submission of the complaint, the complainants acknowledge the apf procedure guidelines and confirm that all information given is truthful. Upon request, apf will send the procedure guidelines by email or post.
What happens in an arbitration procedure?

As soon as it receives your complaint, the apf will check to see if the complaint falls within its authority and fulfils the criteria for an arbitration procedure. If for any reason an arbitration procedure is not possible, you will be informed.

If an arbitration procedure is opened, the apf will request the company in question to submit its own written statement of the facts.

If it seems appropriate, the apf may invite one or all of the parties concerned to a meeting in their business premises. You can, however, decline to take part in such a meeting if you prefer.

Should no arbitration procedure be possible, we will as a matter of course notify you of the reasons for this rejection and be happy to inform you where you should turn instead.

For the precise steps in the procedure please see our procedure guidelines.

How long does the arbitration procedure last?

The amount of time processing of a case takes depends, on the one hand, on the reaction speed of the company in question and, on the other hand, on its individual complexity. apf is in any case interested in producing a solution as quickly as possible in the framework of the arbitration procedure. In many cases this is possible in only two to three weeks. In complex cases, we aim to find a solution within three months.

What do I have to do for the arbitration procedure?

In order to have your complaint processed, apf needs all necessary information from you in written form. You will find a listing of all documents under the item: What does apf need from me in order to take action?

In the course of the arbitration procedure, both you and the company are obliged to cooperate in the procedure and to provide apf with all information required to assess the factual circumstances. False and/or incomplete information may lead to termination of the arbitration procedure.

Having other institutions and organisations deal with the case during the ongoing procedure should be avoided, except in justified cases.

Can I have someone represent me?

Yes, at any stage of the procedure you can, at your own expense, authorise a lawyer or other trusted person to represent you.

On demand, proof of the right to represent you (by means of a proxy statement) must be provided.

What is the result of an arbitration procedure?

apf works out a solution which in most cases leads to resolution and thus termination of the dispute. The solution recommended by apf may be different from the results of judicial proceedings. Acceptance of the solution is not mandatory.

If the arbitration procedure does not lead to any agreement, it is then terminated.

Is the arbitration result binding?

If both parties agree to the apf's proposed solution, they effectively accept it as an out-of-court settlement. If one of the parties does not agree, the solution is not considered binding. The parties can then assert their claims through the court system. In such cases, the solution proposed by the apf is considered merely a recommendation.

What happens to ongoing deadlines?

Submission of the complaint and the duration of the arbitration procedure interrupt the running of the statute of limitations (deadlines only begin to run again after the conclusion of the procedure). That means that if no consensus is reached in the arbitration procedure you may assert your claims in the courts with jurisdiction over them.

What happens to the data?

The processing of personal data is carried out, regardless of the type of submission of the arbitration request, exclusively for processing the case and for carrying out the procedure. Data without personal reference are used in the context of publications such as the annual report on the performance of our tasks as an agency (in accordance with Section 8 (2) of the Federal Law on the Agency for Passenger and Passenger Rights [PFAG] or in accordance with Section 9 of the Alternative Dispute Settlement Act [AStG]). Also due to legal obligations, we use collected data in anonymous form for statistical evaluations.

How can I contact apf?

Preferably by using our arbitration form on the Website.

You will receive a confirmation by email that we have received your complaint. Should you not receive any further communication from us within two weeks, we request that you contact us again. Where deadlines must be met, please contact us even sooner, if needed.

Should electronic transmission not be possible for you, you may also send us your arbitration-request by post.

By Post:
Agency for Passenger Rights
Ship department
Linke Wienzeile 4/1/6
A-1060 Wien

May I call the apf by telephone?

We are reachable during office hours at the telephone number +43 1 5050707 730. We can give you certain information by telephone and advise you in matters of complaint. However, a complaint must always be submitted to us in writing since an arbitration procedure can only be initiated in that way.

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