The district court in Munich condemned Vodafone Kabel Deutschland: the company had put contracts with customers that they had never concluded.
Customers reported contracts for products, such as the Giga TV app, that they had never ordered.
If Vodafone violates the ban in the future, the telecommunications provider faces a penalty of up to 250,000 euros.
Vodafone customers have repeatedly received reports about contracts that they had never requested. Four proceedings have already been initiated against the telecommunications service provider Vodafone Kabel Deutschland. Now the Munich Regional Court has ruled that the company has acted illegally. The Hamburg Consumer Center (VZHH) had sued on behalf of the consumers.
It all started for a customer with the timely termination of a two-year DSL contract from Vodafone. She asked for the return slip for the return of her router by phone. What she received two days later was a contract for the “Giga TV App”, which Vodafone offers for 9.99 euros per month and which should enable the streaming of series and films on the smartphone and tablet. The alleged start of the contract was the day of the call.
There are fines of up to 250,000 euros
Similar reports are reported by customers where a service technician rang the bell unannounced. Amazed that he wanted to measure the cable socket, they did not let him into the apartment – and received about five minutes later an e-mail about the order placed, including a contract for “Vodafone TV Connect” and “Vodafone GigaTV including HD Premium Cable” for the price of 29.99 euros per month plus a one-time provision fee of 49.99 euros.
“It cannot be the case that consumers repeatedly have to deal with contracts for which there is no basis,” says Julia Rehberg from VZHH. Because, according to information provided by consumer advocates, something similar has also happened with the “Kabel Digital” and “Vodafone TV Connect” products.
At the request of NewsABC.net, a spokesman for Vodafone explains that any “misunderstandings and inconsistencies in contracts and ordering processes can be clarified in a dialog with customer service” and: “If sales partners violate the clear Vodafone guidelines and in individual cases submit contracts and trigger product orders We do not want these partners to want, we take rigorous action against these partners – from warnings to the termination of the cooperation. ”Vodafone lost in the four proceedings because statements were against statements and no proof of correctness could be provided: The sales representative says the customer wanted to buy the product while the customer contested it.
If Vodafone violates the prohibition issued by the district court regarding the conclusion of the contract “Vodafone Giga TV App”, the company faces a penalty of up to 250,000 euros.
Something similar has happened to you with Vodafone Kabel Deutschland or another company? Write to me: lena.anzenho[email protected] or use this form from the consumer advice center.
Smartphone, electricity, pay TV: With these tips you will never pay too much for your contracts
1. Cancel on time
Termination is the most important point, because many contracts become significantly more expensive after the minimum term and automatically renew at a higher price. “There is nothing to be said against terminating contracts shortly after conclusion. This way you don’t miss the notice period, ”says Benjamin Weiland.
It does not matter whether it is a smartphone tariff, the DSL or the Pay TV provider. “Termination pays off with every permanent obligation,” Weiland continues.
However, he restricts: “For contracts that have been concluded on the Internet or on the phone, consumers have a 14-day right of withdrawal. So that no misunderstandings arise, it is advisable to terminate the contract only after this period. ”In individual cases, the offer could otherwise be canceled and consumers no longer have a contract.
Sean Gallup, Getty Images
2. Offers for new customers are often better than for existing customers
The fact that a cancellation is always worthwhile is because the offers for new customers are better than the offers to existing customers. “Companies are looking for growth that can be measured primarily by the number of customers,” says Weiland. That is why companies want to win as many new customers as possible and invest in them in the form of cheap offers.
“These effects will increasingly occur at the end of a quarter or a year,” the bargain expert continued. It is then that the companies want to raise their numbers and lure with the cheapest offers. “So if you have the opportunity, you should conclude your contract at the end of a quarter or a year.”
Only when the contract is automatically renewed at the higher conditions is it worthwhile for the companies – only then is a customer really profitable, reports Weiland.
Spencer Platt / Getty Images
3. Keep calm
Once the termination has been confirmed and the end of the contract is approaching, keep calm. Do not rush to contact the provider and find out about the terms of a contract extension, but let the telephone company or the pay TV operator take the first step.
Termination often provokes a return offer
“Depending on the area, the companies make so-called return offers to their customers at the end of the contract,” explains Weiland. The aim is to convince consumers to withdraw their notice of termination and stay on board.
“In most cases, switching providers can save a lot more money,” says Weiland. But here you have to differentiate depending on the contractual partner.
While it is almost always worthwhile with the smartphone tariff to change providers after two years, in practice this is not so good with pay TV – Sky customers who want to continue to see the offer must finally extend their contract with the company. “Sky in particular is known for offering its customers low-priced offers once they have terminated the contract,” says Benjamin Weiland.
“The closer the contract comes to an end, the better the offers become”
However, if you miss the cancellation, the price can rise very sharply. Even if you want to remain a Sky subscriber for longer than the minimum contract term, the termination is worthwhile because Sky lures you with more favorable conditions. “The closer the contract comes to an end, the better the offers,” says Weiland. “Even on the last day, the best offer can be made.”
Ophòlie Fas / Getty
4. Handle return offers correctly
The first return offer usually takes place a few weeks before the end of the contract – either by post, but mostly by phone. “If you speak to the provider, you should make a note of the conditions presented and never accept the first offer,” advises Benjamin Weiland.
Instead, it is advisable to compare the notes with the current new customer offers and – when it comes to a smartphone tariff – to look for competing products. “If you negotiate with Sky, you should wait for a better offer that is very likely to come,” says the expert.
One should behave differently with a smartphone tariff, after all – according to Weiland’s experience – an extension with the current provider is rarely worthwhile. “Here you should dare to make a brazen counter offer – only then may it be worth staying. More than a ‘no’ from the provider cannot happen anyway, ”Weiland continues.
mixetto / Getty Images
5. Third-party offers are worthwhile with the smartphone contract
If the contract is actually terminated, a new provider must be found. Anyone who does a little research on the Internet will quickly find out that there are providers who offer cheaper prices than those shown on the websites of Telekom or Vodafone.
“Telekom sees itself as a premium provider because it has the best mobile network in terms of space,” explains Weiland. That is why she demands high prices for a contract through her homepage. Vodafone is following a similar path, the expert continues.
However, there are providers such as Mobilcom-Debitel, Klarmobil, Otelo or Freenet Mobile, who also offer or broker contracts in the D network and at the same time charge lower prices.
Either because they are third-party providers who rent the providers’ networks and then charge cheaper prices. Or because they act as intermediaries and offer the original contracts of the large companies in this way, but sometimes require significantly less additional payment for smartphones. In this case, the cell phone comes from the agent, the contract partner is nevertheless Telekom, Vodafone or O2.
“There is often an inhibition threshold for consumers to conclude a contract with third-party providers, but many of the companies have been on the market for a long time and work seriously,” says Benjamin Weiland.
Contrary to Telekom and Vodafone, O2 also frequently offers its tariffs at special prices on its own website, says Weiland.
Morris MacMatzen / Getty Images
6. Use campaign days like Black Friday
Singles Day, Black Friday or Cyber Monday are not just popular days for online shoppers in China or the USA. In this country too, companies are luring with campaigns around these campaign days. “This also applies to smartphone tariffs,” says bargain expert Weiland. If the time is right, it is worth looking for a new tariff on such days.
Freer / Shutterstock.com
7. Sim-only contracts offer great savings potential
Customers who do not choose a new smartphone with a new contract after two years have great savings potential. “There are many so-called sim-only offers where customers can get allnet flat rates and large data volumes for less than ten euros a month,” says Benjamin Weiland.
Often it can also be worthwhile to take out a cheap sim-only tariff and to buy a used or refurbished smartphone. Anyone doing some research here will find the best offer depending on their own needs.
8. The termination is also worthwhile for the DSL contract
Even if there are significantly fewer providers with DSL than with smartphone tariffs, it is worth canceling the current contract – even if you do not want to switch. “In this way, you can renegotiate the conditions after the end of the term,” says Weiland. If you do not cancel, the price increases significantly in most cases.
The savings potential is lower than with smartphone tariffs – but money can also be saved here over a period of two years. While some consumers already terminate the contract in good time and also change providers, the procedure with the DSL provider is less common, says Weiland.
The procedure is identical to the smartphone tariff: cancel and wait for the first return offer – and then negotiate about the conditions offered and the service.
9. When it comes to electricity, it is always worth changing every year
Consumers should do something differently with the electricity provider, as Benjamin Weiland reports. “It is worth changing the provider consistently every year,” he says. The reason for this: The companies offer high discounts in the first year. After this period, however, it becomes expensive.
“A lot of consumers are worried that changing electricity providers is complex or that they will have to do without electricity for a few days – but that’s a mistake,” says Weiland. According to the expert, the new provider takes over the entire processing of the change and even terminates the existing contract.
There are also no days when you are without a power supply. If a provider does not deliver electricity for whatever reason, you can obtain it from the standard operator of the region. This also applies if the selected provider would have to stop operating.
Another advantage of the electricity contract: “I can already conclude a contract here that should only start in a few months,” says Weiland. So if you find an offer today that you definitely want to take advantage of, but still have an existing contract for a few months, you can vary the start date of the new contract.
Nevertheless, there is something to consider when choosing a provider. “You shouldn’t choose a contract partner who demands a high advance payment. If this company gets into trouble, the consumers’ money will be gone, ”warns Weiland.
Julian Stratenschulte / picture alliance via Getty Images
10. An annual change is also worthwhile with car insurance
Even with car insurance, haggling with the current provider is not recommended. “But whoever changes here every year can also save a lot,” recommends Weiland. However, especially with insurance companies, it is not only important to pay attention to the price. After all, in the event of damage, it is about getting the right services.
11. “Overcome the inner bastard”
Contracts can be canceled or changed quickly and easily online today. The “paperwork” suspected by many consumers usually does not materialize. “You have to overcome the inner bastard once and make a change. Then you know how easy it is, ”advises Weiland. And how much money can be saved.
Nonwarit / Shutterstockla