Consumer center reprimands companies for trickery

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Since July 2022, German companies have had to offer a clear cancellation button for contracts on their websites. However, the consumer advice center has found that the majority of providers do not implement the law in a legally compliant manner. A warning was issued in 152 cases.

After a free trial subscription to numerous online services, more and more people are switching to a paid subscription. This is simply because they forget to cancel or it is too cumbersome to cancel a contract online.

And this despite the fact that companies have been obliged to clearly mark the cancellation button on their websites since July 2022.

Cancellation button: consumer advice center examines implementation

This means there must be a button that clearly leads to cancellation. If this is not the case, the providers are not acting in accordance with the law.

Between July and October 2022, the Bavarian consumer advice center examined websites across all sectors to determine whether the companies were acting in accordance with the law.

However, the majority of the websites checked have deficiencies. Companies would either not use the cancellation button on their online presence at all or only in such a way that it was difficult to find.

Almost half of the websites examined do not have a cancellation button

Of a total of 840 websites examined, 349 had no cancellation button. The button was hidden for 65 online appearances. In addition, 38 buttons had an illegal label.

The consumer advocates found a total of 339 other violations in connection with the confirmation page and the final confirmation button. For example, mandatory information was missing or there were inadmissible labels.

This is how companies hide the cancellation button

In order to prevent customers from terminating a contract, they use various tricks to bypass the mandatory cancellation button.

If this is the case, the online termination is not legally compliant. So that consumers can control the websites they use themselves, the consumer advice center explains what is not permitted.

In these cases, the cancellation button is not implemented correctly

  1. Cancellation button hidden or not available. Instead, users should contact the company by email or post to cancel their contract. It is also not permissible for customers to have to click through different pages for this purpose.
  2. Button does not lead to confirmation of cancellation. If an overview with all contract-relevant data is missing – including the cancellation request – this is not legally compliant. Even if users are simply automatically redirected back to the log-in area, the cancellation button was implemented incorrectly.
  3. Cancellation button not clearly labeled. The button must clearly indicate what function it performs. Only clear formulations such as “cancel now” are considered legally compliant. If the button only says “send” or “send”, this is not permitted.

This is what a valid online termination looks like

If an online termination is implemented correctly, customers should normally have to go through four steps. After clicking the clear cancellation button, consumers should be able to enter their contract details. This includes the reason for termination, the designation of the contract and the end of the contractual relationship.

There must also be a button for confirmation. It must also be clearly recognizable. Users should then be able to legally terminate their contract with a click. Immediately afterwards, the company must send an electronic confirmation of termination. As a rule, this comes by e-mail to the stored e-mail address.

Consumer advice center warns 152 companies

Overall, the consumer centers and consumer associations warned 152 companies because of significant legal deficiencies in the cancellation button – sometimes even for several websites at the same time.

By November 2, 2022, 86 of these online providers reacted with insight and signed the required cease-and-desist declaration. In 17 cases, the consumer advocates are preparing appropriate legal proceedings or have already filed the lawsuit.

According to Tatjana Halm from the Bavarian consumer advice center, other companies that had not yet received a warning improved their pages directly.

Consumers who have problems with the cancellation button can report the relevant website directly to the consumer advice center. The association is currently collecting information on the implementation of the cancellation button.

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Source: https://www.basicthinking.de/blog/2022/11/14/verbraucherzentrale-ruegt-unternehmen-kuendigungsbutton/

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