Consumer advocates advise you to be particularly careful when contracts are to be concluded with a signature on a tablet in the store. “Actually, I could read the contract and scroll back here, too. Nobody does that, especially not when the seller is impatient and the next customer is waiting behind me,” said the head of the Federal Consumer Association, Klaus Müller, of the German press agency .
Consumers treat paper differently
Consumers are always surprised by what they have signed. Müller therefore proposes a right of withdrawal for such concluded contracts – similar to online trading, where a purchase can be withdrawn up to 14 days after conclusion.
With printed paper, consumers still dealt differently than with digitally presented contracts, said Müller. “Sometimes there are banal questions such as lighting conditions and whether I can really read a tablet.” He respects technical innovations in retail. “But then more consumer rights would have to go hand in hand with it and a possibility of revocation.” So far, “signed is signed” applies in the store. “That should also be different in the future in the stationary trade with such technical aids,” said Müller.
Federal headquarters calls for shorter running times and the right of withdrawal
The consumer advocates also demand that contract periods for cell phone contracts, for example, are usually only 12 months. This was last discussed in the Bundestag in February 2021, but was then rejected. “That was a mistake, it should be corrected,” said Müller.
The Federal Center for Consumer Protection demanded in August Improvements to the “law for fair consumer contracts” by the next federal government: The first permissible contract period should be limited to 12 months. The consumer advocates also called for a “14-day right of withdrawal to be introduced for all long-term contracts that are concluded in a retail store.”
More pressure, lower prices
“As before, there are these enticing offers with 24-month contracts with some kind of discounted service on the side,” he criticized. Shorter contract terms ensured that consumers switched more frequently, which put pressure on prices – and “that is good news for consumers at first,” emphasized Müller.