Coaching contract scam: Online coaching offers are widespread and currently experiencing an upward trend. A variety of trainings, workshops, seminars and other types of webinars are advertised on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and many other platforms.

These advertisements often promise potential customers great personal and professional success if they opt for the corresponding offer. However, in addition to some reputable market participants, there are also many questionable providers.

Therefore, in this article we want to show how victims of coaching contract scams can assert their rights.

From a legal point of view, among other things, the question of immorality and usury arises in relation to the actions of the coach or the expensive online coaching service.

Topics in our legal advice

How does fraud work with coaching offers?

A potential client is looking for inspiration and perspective or he wants to pursue a specific life goal. He signs up for an expensive coaching programme in the hope of finding helpful and concrete impulses to achieve his goals.

After an initial telephone conversation, he probably receives a “success model” that is supposedly tailored to him and his goals. Usually, the potential client is assured that he has a direct and personal contact person.

Directly afterwards, an attempt is made to persuade him to sign a contract in a timely manner. From then on, he is bound to the coaching by a contract for several years – at least this is what he is told.

Some providers charge several thousand euros for more than just dubious coaching “services”. Often the self-proclaimed life coaches, personal coaches or business coaches lack any expertise. Some pocket their clients’ money and then disappear from the scene.

In most cases, a quick glance at the concluded contracts is enough to find features to contest them. The offences of immoral deception, usury and fraud are close to each other.

Frequently, there are also indications of a pyramid or snowball system among the numerous coaching offers.

Special caution is also advised if the service providers are based abroad, where it is more difficult to enforce your rights. Even if there is no imprint, your suspicions may remain. A complete imprint is required by EU law. If this is missing, it indicates unseriousness and a lack of transparency.

Unpredictability in online commerce: coaching fraud

Coaching contract frauds: Rip-offs with expensive coaching contracts are booming. Especially in the last few weeks, we have received an increasing number of enquiries from victims.

At first glance, the coaching offer seems to be unbeatable: For an investment, you get the most comprehensive knowledge, and often in a very short time.

But the promised services often fail to materialise. Clients are stalled or fobbed off with bulky information that neither has anything to do with the individual objective nor is it worth the money.

Especially in the social media world, coaching offers are springing up like mushrooms. What coaches excel at in order to bring others to their goal and to success is often questionable. A lot is invested in advertising and a charismatic image to dazzle as many clients as possible.

Fake reviews on well-known portals or bought comments under Instagram and Facebook postings do the rest to convince more prospective customers.

Every industry and profession has its share of “black sheep”, and coaching is no exception. Below are some guidelines that will help you distinguish between truly reputable offers and those that are simply windy.

The following keywords are also often used by dubious coaching providers to attract new clients:

  • boundless freedom
  • finally successful
  • work from everywhere
  • high passive income
  • become a self-made entrepreneur without any knowledge of the industry
  • earn more with less work
  • never be an employee again
  • Be your own boss
  • Get out of the hamster wheel

In addition, there are also a large number of coaching providers who exclusively target men and spread alleged tips on how to deal with women.

Have you fallen victim to a coaching contract fraud? 16-point list

Do any of the following 16 points apply to you or your working practices?

1. Gagging contract and psychological pressure

Despite a promised money-back guarantee, you are not allowed to cancel the contract under any circumstances? You are threatened or insulted? If you do not pay, you receive collection letters and the threat of expensive legal proceedings? No reputable provider works like that!

2. false evaluations

Coaching contract scam: Do you think coaching company review profiles are full of fake, positive reviews? Have you been pressured to recommend them even with dubious good reviews? Pay attention to the timing of each review!

3. the coach breaks his promises

Is there a big gap between promises and later “performance”? Are you being stalled? Are you blamed for the fact that the coaching goals have not yet been achieved? You have a contractual right to performance!

4. coaching service providers misuse data

Do you believe that the coach has misused your data or passed it on to third parties? Do you suddenly receive advertising from companies you do not know? Violations of data protection law can be punished!

5. coaches and mediators who make unrealistic promises

Have you been lured into a subscription trap on the phone by a so-called coach, perhaps even by an unauthorised “cold call”? Possibly with the promise or assurance of very high direct monthly income? In addition, a sense of urgency has been stirred up? Take your time before signing a contract.

6. coaching is aimed at finding new sales partners

In retrospect, you have come to the conclusion that it was probably not about selling (distributing) a good or service, but only about selling to sell – because of commissions, etc.? Do not become part of a pyramid scheme!

7. Surprising billers and contractors

Do you receive invoices from companies you have never heard of? Clarify the circumstance with your contact person!

8. a clause in the coaching contract that waives the right of withdrawal

Do you have to state or click on a waiver of revocation without any doubt? Or did you find out afterwards that you did this unconsciously? Question the reasons for such a waiver!

9. snowball coaching system

Do you suspect a pyramid or snowball system? This is often used in network marketing or multi-level marketing. Such systems are forbidden!

10. telephone and written coaching contract

You were “guided” by the online coach while at the same time filling out a form on the phone on the website of a supposed payment processor? At some point you simply lost track of who you agreed what with and at what cost? Have the contract documents sent to you again!

11. wrong coach

You booked a certain coach, but you never received any coaching from him? Pay attention to the service description in the contract!

12. general coaching agreement

The provisions of the contract are quite general? Which coaching services are covered by the alleged coaching contract are not adequately described anywhere? Have the service description adapted!

13. “Live” lessons

Ask yourself whether the live coaching sessions are really “live”? Make sure!

14. live coaching booked but not received

Even if you originally booked and requested only live coaching – 1:1 or in a group, are they only provided with online coaching? This does not correspond to the service content!

15. incomplete information on how to reach the coach

You do not have enough information on how to reach the coach? Are contact details kept secret? Is there neither an imprint nor a complete company address? In Germany there is an imprint obligation!

16. time pressure when concluding a contract or claiming services

You were put under pressure to sign the coaching contract as soon as possible? You were advised to download the contents as soon as possible after concluding the supposed contract? You have only been given access to video content or similar for a limited time? Do not sign a contract under time pressure!

Service contract or employment contract?

It is important that you are clear about whether the coaching contract you are signing is a contract for services or a contract of employment, which is primarily for employment.

Whereas for a contract for work under 631 BGB the provision of a concrete result is required, for a contract for services under 611 BGB it is sufficient if the service owed is provided.

Since the parties do not agree on a specific result, the service contract is likely to be the relevant contract type in the area of coaching contracts. Therefore, the warranty claims provided for in the law on contracts for work and services cannot be invoked.

Cancellation of a coaching contract

Whether there is a right of cancellation depends on whether you have concluded the contract as a consumer according to § 13 BGB or as an entrepreneur according to § 14 BGB. In the general terms and conditions of providers, there is typically a clause that restricts potential contractual partners to being entrepreneurs.

If numerous information obligations are complied with, such a clause can be effective.

However, if such a clause is missing and the requirements for consumer status are fulfilled, the contract can usually be revoked without cause.

If you would like us to check whether you qualify as a consumer in your case, we are happy to do so. Please feel free to contact us for this purpose.

Get out of the coaching scam and the subscription trap

There is a good chance that you will not have to pay anything for coaching if some conditions apply.

Unfortunately, the other side almost always claims the opposite to non-lawyers, despite obvious constellations. The next step is usually the threat of legal action and debt collection letters.

Never be intimidated prematurely or give in to the temptation to make partial or instalment payments despite your best intentions. It is best to have the matter reviewed by a lawyer as soon as possible.

Certain time limits often apply. Therefore, if the other party makes it clear that payments are required, it is best to avoid engaging in protracted discussions with them. Act sooner rather than too late.

Coaching: distinguishing between serious and dubious providers

Generally, the more promises are made and the more pressure is put on potential new clients, the more dubious the offer. So be careful when you read such offers in social media.

These offers are problematic because they are becoming more and more numerous. Those who copy their coach’s sales strategies and learn how to do it themselves charge too much for their products. Of course, they also want to get their money back after spending so much.

This is why there are more and more internet gurus offering very expensive coaching at high prices practically every day. This can lead to the false conclusion that the business model then works. However, in the case of dubious coaching offers, this is only the case if one is prepared to invest a lot of money and then take advantage of other people.

How to recognise a reliable coach

But how can you protect yourself from a coaching contract fraud? You should look for a really reliable mentor and coach if you want to have long-term success in business. Because despite the dubious providers, there are also reputable offers.

Here, it is best to rely on people who have built up a reputation and expert status in their profession over time. Take a look at their experience, CV and expertise. Also look at the price-performance ratio. Less appearance, more being.

A reputable coach is knowledgeable. He has several years of experience. He has more in mind than just selling a programme. He doesn’t deal in special offers where you have to decide quickly whether you want to book the lessons at a discounted price.

A reputable coach will not deal with your fears. Rogue coaches play on many fears, such as fears of failure, fears of loss and fears of ignorance, and this is what makes the scam so sophisticated, because fear is a powerful motivator to want to change something.

The informal conversation is usually a highly skilled sales pitch rather than a genuine offer of help. A committed coach will give you his time. He will not pressure you to make a decision immediately.

Moreover, he will not give you empty guarantees that you can become rich overnight, without cost or effort. Those who make serious offers can also back them up with plausible and comprehensible results.

A serious coach knows that no change and no success come overnight without hard work. He will make it clear to you that you need to do something.

Coaching contract fraud – legal options

If you want to end your business relationship or fight back against your contract partner, there are several options available to you. We advise you to have the contract papers reviewed by an experienced lawyer, as the specifics of coaching contracts can change constantly.

Our lawyers at the Herfurtner law firm are available to you throughout the German-speaking countries. Take advantage of our free initial consultation now.

Contesting a coaching contract

A contestation of the contract is another possibility to get out of the contract. The prerequisite for a challenge is the existence of a ground for challenge. A ground for rescission may exist, for example, if you were persuaded by false statements and deception.

Whether this is actually the case, however, must be examined by a lawyer in each individual case. We will be happy to help you with this!

In addition to immorality and usury, some coaching contracts can also be challenged

Coaching contracts can be purchased on the internet for sometimes incredible sums. However, if there is a clear disproportion between the service provided and the fee demanded, the contract may also be void due to immorality.

Apart from unconscionability and usury, there are various legal options for challenging questionable coaching agreements that teeter on the edge of subscription traps, rip-offs and fraud.

Coaching contract fraud: compensation for consumers

If the service does not fulfil the conditions set out in the contract, you may also be able to claim damages. As a rule, the coaching service provided falls short of the agreed service in terms of both practical implementation and content.

According to § 280 ff. BGB, this is a case of poor performance, which can lead to a claim for damages.

Money back in case of coaching contract fraud

Theoretically, the rule “no work, no money” also applies to coaching and online coaching. This means that a service provider who has not worked at all is not entitled to payment. In this case, you would not be obliged to pay the remuneration.

Have a lawyer check whether the requirements for this are met.

In any case, you are not completely helpless when it comes to dubious online coaching contracts.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you need a legal assessment or have further questions. Our fraud lawyers draw on many years of experience.

Contact us at any time if you need help. If necessary, we will also file criminal charges on your behalf to put a stop to such dubious coaching providers and enforce your rights.