Cell phone, internet, electricity: thanks to new rules faster out of the contract

Good news for consumers: better notice periods apply to cell phone or Internet contracts with immediate effect. More precisely: If you have the 24-month minimum term behind you, you can now monthly from the contract. The Telecommunications Act has been revised for this purpose. The changes apply to new and old Contracts equally.

Better cancellation rules will also apply in other areas from January 2022, including:

  • Long-term contracts, such as for electricity or a gym, may no longer be tacitly extended for additional years. The provider can extend for an indefinite period, but must then give you a monthly right of termination. To this end, §309 no. 9 b) and c) BGB amended accordingly.
  • If you conclude a contract on the Internet with a click from July 2022, you should also be able to cancel it with one click.

Basis of these innovations is the law for fair consumer contracts, which passed the Federal Government at the end of June 2021.

In the article we explain everything you need to become a real cancellation pro.

Form of notice: find out how you have to give notice

How you can terminate depends in the future on how you concluded the contract.

Written contract
Since the providers usually do not want you to cancel, the information such as the cancellation form and cancellation address are often somewhat hidden. As a rule you can find them in the FAQs or in the terms and conditions. There you will also find, In which form the notice of termination must be given.

  • Text form means that you can write your cancellation without any specific requirements and send it by e-mail, fax, letter or even as SMS. However, it is not possible to cancel by telephone or at the push of a button. In particular, you do not have to sign such an "informal" notice of termination.
  • In Written form to cancel means you have to write a letter, sign it and send it in the original by mail.

Many contracts that you after October 2016 you may terminate the contract in text form, e.g. by e-mail (§ 309 Nr. 13 BGB). Exceptions are employment and rental contracts. You still have to cancel your contract in written form, i.e. by letter. For contracts concluded before October 2016, the provider may also require termination in writing.

Online contract
From July 2022 You have it easier with online (new) contracts. If you conclude the contract with a single click (for example, "Buy now"), you must then be able to cancel this contract in the same simple way again. The new law requires a so-called "cancellation button", you could also say: cancellation button (for example "cancel contract here"). For this a new §312k BGB is created.

For existing online contracts, such as your cell phone contract, on the other hand: You still have to terminate them in text or written form.

You should pay attention to these further points

In order for the provider to accept your cancellation, you should pay attention to a few points:

Notice period

Give notice in good time before the cancellation period expires. Your cancellation should reach your provider no later than the day on which the deadline expires must have arrived.

Content of the cancellation

You should include the following information in your notice so that your provider can reliably assign the notice to you and your contract.

  • Full name
  • Address
  • If applicable. Customer number or contract number
  • Current date
  • Cancellation letter with cancellation date, alternatively "at the next possible date"
  • Ask for written confirmation
  • In case of written form: Signature

A cancellation could look like this, for example:

Max Mustermann
Sample street 1
12345 Sample city

Subject: Cancellation of my contract at the end of the term

Dear Sir or Madam,

I hereby give notice of termination of my contract with contract number 1234567890 as of the next possible date.

Please send me a written confirmation of the termination, stating the date of termination.

With best regards

Shipping method

Cancelling by e-mail is convenient and simple at first glance. However, in case of doubt, you cannot prove that the provider has received the notice. We have compiled a table of what we consider to be arguments against possible mailing methods.

Advantages and disadvantages of the different mailing methods

Advantage Disadvantage
Digital (e-mail, SMS) Quick and easy Receipt difficult to prove
Fax Verifiable by means of a delivery protocol Hardly anyone still has a fax machine
Normal letter Favorable Receipt not verifiable
Registered mail Verifiable by tracking and tracing Costs money
Source: Forbes Advisor research, March 2021.

Cancellations in written form must be received in original by the provider. It is recommended to send it by registered mail. With certified mail, the letter carrier records that he has dropped the letter in the recipient’s mailbox. In the case of a standard registered letter, the recipient must even sign it. The protocol or. You can see the signature online in the shipment tracking.

You can give notice of termination in text form digitally, e.g. by e-mail.B. by e-mail, send. Most providers send an automatic confirmation e-mail that the e-mail has arrived and is being processed. Keep the confirmation in your mailbox and perhaps even print it out. Make sure that the e-mail address of the recipient, date and time of the mail are visible. If the provider claims that the cancellation has not been received, you have something in your hand.

If you have not received a confirmation of cancellation two weeks after sending an e-mail, or if nothing of the sort is displayed in your customer account, call to be on the safe side. If you cancel shortly before the end of the cancellation period, we recommend that you use registered mail. In this way, you can be sure that the notice of termination arrived on time by tracking the shipment.

Alternative: Cancellation service provider

Providers make it difficult for you to cancel your contract. Information such as form of notice or the address to which the notice must be sent are partly intransparent. If you have to write several notices, the time needed for address research and writing can be very high.

Service providers such as Aboalarm or Volders can help you with your cancellations. On the one hand, they provide several thousand cancellation templates with current addresses of the providers, which you only have to fill in with your data. You can then save the template as a PDF and send it to the provider by e-mail or printed out. This service is free of charge.

In addition, you can also instruct some service providers to send the cancellation on your behalf. For this purpose, you can choose between different methods of dispatch, such as e-mail or registered mail. This service will cost you between 2 euros (e-mail, fax) and 9.99 euros (registered mail), depending on the method of dispatch.

In addition to saving time, termination by a service provider is also a good idea because the service provider can provide you with proof of shipment and himself as a witness. Some termination service providers even advertise a termination guarantee: If the provider disagrees, you will receive free legal assistance.

In addition, some cancellation service providers have apps where you can manage your contracts and be reminded of the cancellation deadlines.

If from 1. July 2022 the cancellation button comes, you will probably no longer have to resort to cancellation service providers. Cancellations in written form are then only necessary for a few contracts such as employment or rental contracts. In addition, the law ensures that your provider sends you a notice immediately after your cancellation via the cancellation button Confirmation must send. This way your cancellation is also legally secure.

Alternative: Change of contract

Cancellation is a good solution if you do not use contracts (anymore). However, there are services and goods that are part of the basic equipment: such as a cell phone contract, a current account, the electricity supply contract or the car insurance (if you have a car). In this case, the contract may be bad or too expensive, but you cannot simply cancel it. You have to provide a replacement at the same time.

It is not uncommon for the above-mentioned contracts to include a change service: this means that you select the new (better, more favorable) provider and the provider then takes care of a timely, effective cancellation. How this works with electricity, we have written down in a separate article. If you are not sure, ask the new provider about it.

How long may a contract run?

According to the new law for fair consumer contracts, newly signed long-term contracts may continue to run for up to two years. It was not possible to agree on a shortening of this duration in the legislative process.

However, the contract cannot then be automatically extended for a further two years. The provider can extend the contract "indefinitely" in the future, and you as the customer can opt out every month.

What is ordinary termination?

You can give ordinary ("normal") notice of termination at the end of the respective contract term. The contract period can be of different lengths depending on the contract. In the case of mobile phone contracts, this is usually for 24 months at the beginning. Until now, providers were allowed to automatically extend your contract for another 24 months if you didn’t cancel in time. This changes due to the new law for fair consumer contracts. From July 2022: The contract may be extended "indefinitely", but you as a customer can opt out monthly.

What is an extraordinary termination?

You can issue an extraordinary termination, also called special termination, if the provider does not fulfill its contractual obligations. This is the case, for example, if your Internet connection is permanently disrupted and the provider is unable or unwilling to remedy the situation despite a notice period. You do not have to wait until your contract ends to cancel it.

What is a notice period?

A notice period is the deadline by which you can terminate a contract at the end of the contract term. According to the law, the notice period may not be longer than three months. The cancellation period that applies to the respective contract can be found in the contract itself or in the general terms and conditions.

When is a termination legally valid?

In order for a termination to be legally valid in court, it must be proven beyond doubt that the termination was received by the provider. The registered letter proves that the letter carrier has posted the notice, but it does not prove whether the envelope really contained a letter of termination or just a white sheet of paper. For a legally secure cancellation, you would have to hire a bailiff to deliver and certify the cancellation in person. Since this admittedly seems quite impractical, courts sometimes also accept if letter carriers or termination service providers can testify that the notice was delivered.

With the mandatory "cancel" button for online contracts from 1. July 2022, legally compliant termination will become easier. If you confirm the cancellation via the button, then your provider must immediately send the cancellation electronically, i.e. z.B. by e-mail, in text form confirm.

Nina was a technical writer in the IT industry for five years and described, among other things, the use of apps. At Forbes Advisor, Nina likes to write about energy, topics with a technology background, but also about classic financial topics like credit cards.

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