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HomeGerman FinanceTelephone, cell phone and internet contracts: Important new customer rights in 2021

Telephone, cell phone and internet contracts: Important new customer rights in 2021

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Did you know that there are new changes to how telephone, cell phone and internet contracts in Germany work?

The amendment to the Telecommunications Act (TKG) brings a number of improvements to customer rights. It comes into force on December 1, 2021. We give an overview of important points of the legal reform.

An overview of the changes you can expect

contracts
  • The amendment to the Telecommunications Act brings many new rules for landline, internet and mobile phone contracts.
  • These include: Shorter notice periods for automatic contract extensions, a right to reduce and cancel if the bandwidth is too low, compensation in various cases and more transparency.
  • The law comes into force on December 1, 2021 – for all contracts, regardless of whether you signed your contract before or after.

On December 1, 2021, the amendment to the Telecommunications Act (TKG) comes into force – and brings several improvements to customer rights for telephone, internet and mobile phone contracts. Among them are

  • Reduction and termination rights if the bandwidth is too low,
  • Compensation in the event of complete telephone and internet failures if the provider does not remedy the disruption within 2 working days,
  • shorter notice periods,
  • Contracts that were previously concluded over the phone must be confirmed by the consumer in text form (e.g. via e-mail) if no contract summary was provided to you before the contract was concluded

A slight negative for: Inside the new changes is the new regulation for fiber optic connections: According to this, all tenants have to pay for a fiber optic connection in the house, even if they do not use it themselves.

The “right to fast internet” is also important. In the law, however, there is no minimum bandwidth that defines the specific claim. This has yet to be determined – and it is therefore unclear whether the right is also a concrete benefit for consumers, especially in rural areas, where connections are sometimes still very slow.

Below is a comprehensive look at the most important changes.

Understandable summary before signing a new contract

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In future, providers will have to give you a contract summary in text form ( e.g. a PDF by e-mail or in printed form) before you conclude a telephone contract (for landline, internet and / or mobile phone connection).

It must expressly state:

  • the contact details of the provider,
  • essential characteristics of the individual services to be provided,
  • Activation fees,
  • and the term and conditions for renewal and termination.

If this information cannot be handed over when the contract is concluded (this should be the case, for example, if you receive offers over the phone), the provider must provide you with this summary immediately after the contract is concluded.

There is also another protective mechanism in these cases: You must then approve in text form such a telecommunications contract, which was concluded, for example, on the phone without first having received a contract summary. Until then, lawyers say the contract is “pending ineffective”.

This means: If you do not give approval for the contract, it has not come into effect. The provider does not even have claims against you if he switched to the new services immediately after the phone call. You don’t have to pay for it then. So if you find out with the summary sent that the contract is out of the question for you, you can easily reject it at this point.

The background: those affected regularly report to the consumer advice centers about contracts slipped on the phone and unexpectedly expensive services. This should no longer be possible in the future due to the new regulations.

Contract term and termination

As before, new contracts may be concluded for up to 24 months. After this initial term, however, there will be no more automatic extensions that can only be canceled after a further 12 months. If, for example, you have not said after the 24 months whether you want to terminate or how you want to continue the contract, you can get out of an automatically extended contract at any time with a one-month notice period.

Telephone, internet and mobile phone contracts, which are automatically renewed for long periods of time, will be a thing of the past.

Your rights if the provider changes the contract

Providers can unilaterally change the contract with you under certain conditions. In such a case, you can cancel without notice in the future.

There are only a few exceptions: If, for example, the changes are solely for your benefit or are of a purely administrative nature and have no negative effects; It is also conceivable that the provider is legally obliged to amend the contract. The provider must prove such an exception.

Providers must inform you at least one and a maximum of two months before the change. You can give notice of termination within three months from the date of this information and at the earliest for the date of validity of the change. You may not be charged any costs for the termination (one exception: if you keep devices from the contract, e.g. a smartphone bought cheaply with the mobile phone contract).

Information about the optimal tariff every year

Providers are constantly changing their tariffs – and you haven’t always told your existing customers about this up to now. So some: r remains in an expensive old tariff, while the provider has long been more favorable conditions and a change would be easily possible.

The telecommunications amendment now requires providers to inform you once a year about the optimal tariff based on the current tariff. And: The provider is not only allowed to do this on the phone.

Options for termination or reduction

The telecommunications amendment gives you the opportunity to react to poor performance by the provider. You can then terminate the contract without notice or reduce your payments as much as the services are limited.

If you do not get the promised bandwidth and your internet connection is regularly or particularly clearly too slow , then the law provides options for termination and reduction.

You have to prove this restriction. For many, the speed of the Internet connection will be of primary importance here. You can currently use the broadband measurement of the Federal Network Agency to provide evidence .

Also new: If you move to a new place of residence and the previous provider does not offer the service there, you can terminate the contract – with one month’s notice. You can give notice of termination in good time so that it takes effect when you move out.

You now also have stronger customer rights for packages (e.g. mobile phone connection combined with a smartphone). If you can cancel a part of the package because the provider has not kept the contract, you can in many cases cancel the entire package at the same time.

Compensation for disruptions to the connection

Consumers have the right to prompt elimination in the event of a malfunction. If this takes longer than a calendar day, the provider must inform you about it.

From the 3rd calendar day after receipt of the fault report, you are even entitled to compensation in the event of a complete failure of the telephone and Internet connection:

  • for the 3rd and 4th day: 10% of the contractually agreed monthly fee, but at least 5 euros
  • from. 5th day: 20% of the contractually agreed monthly salary, but at least 10 euros

In addition: If the provider misses customer service or installation appointments, you are entitled to 20% of the contractually agreed monthly fee, but at least 10 euros.

Legally secured right to fast internet

Even with the new law, consumers continue to have a right to a supply of telecommunications services. The legally secured right to fast internet is now also anchored in the law.

How useful this section of the law is for consumers: indoors (especially in rural areas) will very much depend on how fast the bandwidth then has to be at least. This is namely not in the law and has yet to be determined.

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Change of provider and number portability

If you switch to a new provider with a telephone, internet or mobile phone contract, the latter takes over the handling of the change of provider and the transfer of the number. Make sure that the old contract does not cause any problems when you switch, for example because the contract period is far from over.

Your old provider must continue his service after the end of the contract until the successful changeover and may charge a maximum of 50% of the agreed connection fee. In this way, you can still be reached by telephone or connected to the Internet until you have successfully switched.

  • If the service is interrupted for longer than one working day, you are entitled to compensation for each additional working day – namely 20% of the agreed monthly salary, but at least 10 euros.
  • If the number portability fails , you are entitled to compensation of 10 euros for each additional day from the second working day after the agreed portability day.

In addition: If the provider misses customer service or installation appointments, you are entitled to 20% of the contractually agreed monthly fee, but at least 10 euros (see also previous point).

Third-party services on the invoice

A regular annoyance for consumers: those who contact us are high costs for third-party providers on the bill . This can be, for example, services in game apps and subscriptions that are billed to the mobile phone bill.

You must now receive all the necessary information on invoices in order to recognize the claims and to be able to defend yourself in case of doubt. This includes:

  • the third-party provider’s address for summons,
  • a national local landline number or a free customer service number
  • as well as a reference to a third-party website.

If you have objections to such claims on the invoice, you can now contact the billing company instead of the third-party provider – e.g. your mobile phone provider.

Landlords can pass on the costs of a fiber optic connection to tenants

When a building is connected to a high-performance fiber optic network for the first time, owners / landlords can pass on the fee to the tenants as operating costs, if such a contribution is agreed in the rental agreement. It’s all about the connection. Tenants must be free to choose when looking for a provider.

The contribution is limited to a period of five years (extension to nine years possible) and 60 euros per residential unit per year.

This applies to fiber optic connections that are made by December 31, 2027, and can also apply to the past (January 1, 2015 at the earliest).

Further changes

  • If an e-mail account is also part of the telecommunications contract, you may no longer simply be excluded from the mailbox after the end of the contract . You must still have access to your e-mails after the end of the contract. How long will be determined by the Federal Network Agency.
  • Only when you are in arrears with at least 100 euros, the provider may block . In addition, the provider must threaten the block in writing two weeks in advance. In addition, a block may only affect the services for which you are in a corresponding delay (for example, if you have not paid for your mobile phone connection for a long time, your landline connection cannot be blocked as a result).

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