Consumer users demand: make it easier for customers

Consumer users demand: make it easier for customers

One click – and the contract is closed. Whether it’s a music subscription, a cell phone contract, or an electricity provider, it’s often much more difficult to get a quote than it is to buy something on the internet. Especially from contracts that are automatically extended, many consumers get out much later than they would like to.

Consumer users and politicians are therefore now calling for: make it easier for customers. "Too often, it costs consumers unnecessary time and effort to check out contracts," said tabea robner, spokeswoman for network policy for the grunen parliamentary group, to the deutsche presse agency. "Everyone who has ever concluded a contract online and wants to get it back has already experienced it: it doesn’t work that easily."

While the so-called button solution has been in effect for online purchases since 2012 – a mandatory button such as "order now with obligation to pay" – the federal government has neglected consumers for far too long when it comes to customer service. "Clicking into the contract is quick, but clicking out is not." The ideas to change this:


Electricity supplier, gym, newspaper subscription, railcard – many contracts are automatically extended by a year if they are not terminated in time. "I must be able to cancel every three months," demands klaus muller, head of the consumer advice center. At present, it happens too often that one misses the date of notice and is then tied up again for a year. But if you haven’t seen the inside of your gym in a long time, you shouldn’t have to pay for it anymore.


The grunen demand that the online notice becomes as easy as the online contract conclusion. No more tedious searching for an e-mail address in the imprint, no more faxes, instead just a click of the mouse on a clearly visible cancellation button. "Anyone who can easily click into a contract must also be able to easily click out," says robner. Companies should convince their customers to continue their contractual relationship through good performance – not through inconvenient cancellation channels.

Confirmation PER MAIL

Currently, consumers often cannot be sure that they have not sent a notice by e-mail into the void. Acknowledgements of receipt are rare, simply sending a letter is not legally valid as proof, and a form of registered mail has not yet been invented. That’s why the grunen are calling for mandatory acknowledgements of receipt that also reflect the content of the original email. To show: I gave notice in good time. "It can’t be that a stagecoach is required for legal certainty regarding the receipt of a letter," says robner. Confirmation is already required when a contract is signed, and the same must apply to the notice of termination.


Consumer minister christine lambrecht (SPD) has set her sights on cost traps, especially on the internet. Your draft, which would limit contract terms to one year, for example, is stuck in the ministries’ vote, however, because the economics ministry has expressed reservations. Lambrecht also wants to regulate that contracts can only be automatically extended by a maximum of three months.

Consumer users take a positive view of the initiative. "It’s certainly the case that there are very occasional attractive offers, for example, if I combine a cell phone with a mobile communications contract for 24 months," says muller. But this does not always apply. "It is not a law of nature that a long contract is automatically a favorable contract."In other european countries, shorter contract terms had even led to falling mobile prices.

The consumer protection ministry also wants to take action against electricity contracts that are talked up on the phone. For the consumer protection agencies, this was a long overdue step: people who spent a lot of time at home were sometimes being hit with unauthorized telephone advertising several times a day, says muller. "This is not only inconvenient, but also expensive."It’s too easy to walk away from a phone call with a new cell phone contract or an insurance policy you didn’t even want. "Such contracts actually have to be confirmed in writing, so that i have another chance to pause," muller demands. The ministry has so far only provided for this in the case of electricity transfers.

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