The aim of the new legislation is to protect consumers from imprudent contracting, to limit the duration of contracts and to simplify the termination of contracts.
This includes contracts with your gym, streaming service, provider (internet, mobile, TV), dating site or online dating site, other subscriptions (such as newspaper or magazine subscriptions) and energy or gas suppliers.
Contracts with gyms, streaming services, providers, dating sites and other subscription services
A minimum term of two years in contracts is still acceptable. The reason for this rule is that customers should be able to consciously choose a longer term and receive a lower premium for it, as was the case in the past.
Before the end of the minimum term or in the case of a contract extension at the end of the contract term, the customer must observe a notice period of at least three months.
The previous notice period of two months before the end of the term has been reduced to one month.
The contract is automatically renewed and you can cancel at any time with one month’s notice
Customers with contracts that renew automatically have the option to stop the renewal process at the end of each following month. The duration of the contract renewal is not fixed. So there can be no further automatic renewals for additional months or years.
In the past, the contract term was automatically extended for another year if the consumer did not terminate it in due time. In future, electricity and gas supply contracts can only be concluded in writing (i.e. no more telephone negotiations).
Only written communication, such as an email, Whatsapp message, SMS, letter or fax, can constitute a legally binding contract. In future, such contracts must be concluded in text form.
Documentation and retention obligations for companies in the case of telephone advertising
In future, companies must document customers’ consent to telephone advertising and retain it for 5 years. In the event of a violation, there may be severe consequences. There is a link in the members’ area to terminate the agreement, and you have the option to terminate without notice at any time if you think you have violated it. Concluding a contract on the provider’s website or online shop is usually quite simple.
To complete the transaction, the buyer only has to select the option “order with costs”. Contract termination should be similarly simple in the future. In future, all online contracts with longer terms must have a termination option within the respective digital platform.
The button must be easily recognisable and allow immediate disconnection. An urgent electronic confirmation of the termination data (including the receipt of the notice and the termination of the contract) is required (e.g. by email).
If the company does not meet the updated standards, the customer can terminate the contract at any time without penalty. Restrictions on the assignment of payment claims (to third parties, e.g. consumer protection associations) are no longer enforceable in GTCs. If the seller has no interest worth protecting or if the buyer’s interest prevails, all other claims and rights are void.
Therefore, in the future, a passenger can assign his or her claim to a legal advice company in case of disputes with the airline or tour operator. The regulations of the General Terms and Conditions, the UWG (Unfair Competition Act) and the EnWG have been updated by the “Fair Consumer Relations Act” (Energy Industry Act).
From 1 October 2021, the new consumer protection law “Fair Consumer Contracts Act” will generally apply to contracts concluded after this date. The new revocation regulations do not come into force until March 2022 and the revocation button does not have to be available until 1 July 2022. However, this applies to already existing contracts.