On June 25th 2021 the Bundestag approved the new consumer protection law.
Whenever we buy or do something new we sign contracts and accept conditions, but we rarely keep track of them, or worse we do not even read them.
Sometimes we may not realise we sign for long-term contracts or contracts that need long advanced notice periods. These will lead to high costs. A new law is now intended to provide better protection against such contracts by putting an end to them with immediate effect. The reason is simple: consumers are too often ripped off, disadvantaged and have restricted freedom of choice.
With the new law for fair consumer contracts, the rights of consumers are to be strengthened. Here follow the most important regulations.
Update obligation for digital services: all smart devices are subject to an update obligation by law. The provider must therefore make the current operating systems and softwares available to the owners at all times.
Supply contracts for electricity and gas: we all have received phone calls from call centers advertising energy suppliers or received phone calls from our existing supplier urging a change. When a new contract is stipulated over the phone we may not be aware of all the details, but from now on they all need to be in text form by email, SMS, letter or fax so that consumers do not miss anything. This is valid for termination of contracts too.
Telephone advertising: not only energy suppliers but also many other companies do telephone advertising and call us without our consent. Because unauthorised phone calls are unreasonable nuisances they can be fined up to 50.000 Euros.
Cancellation option: according to the new law, companies must provide consumers with an easy way on their website to cancel unwanted contracts rather than only giving the opportunity to terminate them via a phone call or via email.
Shorter contract terms: it has been established that in the future contracts should not run longer than a year. Contract terms up to two years will still be possible, but subject to conditions. Contracts of one year cannot be more than 25% more expensive than the longer ones.
Shorter notice periods: it may have happened to some of us to forget to terminate a contract, have the contract renewed and have to pay for it for another year. This will soon no longer exist: after an automatic renewal customers can cancel their contract on a monthly basis.