Germany: Cancellation of online subscriptions must be possible without logging in

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 20, 2023

The termination of online contracts must be possible without logging in to the website of a service. This rule was confirmed by the Munich Regional Court following a lawsuit brought by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv) against Sky Deutschland Fernsehen GmbH & Co. KG.

Sky Wow customers could not cancel their contract with the service until they signed in to their account on the Wow website. This represents an unnecessary and unlawful barrier that makes terminations more difficult, according to the court.

Companies are required to provide a cancellation button on their websites since July 2022 in Germany that is easily accessible. Wow displayed a cancellation link on its website, but activation of the link led to a login page. Customers had to provide their email address and password before they were allowed to terminate the subscription.

The Munich Regional Court upheld the claim of vzbv and ruled that it must be possible to terminate online contracts via a termination button without having to log in to the website. The cancellation button needs to be visible on the company's website and terminations need to be possible without account sign-in. Customers may confirm their identity by providing their name and other common identifiers, such as their address or birthday.

Requiring customers to sign-in first restricts the termination options unnecessarily according to the court. The court notes furthermore that the law is also clear about this, as it formulates unambiguously that access to the termination form on websites needs to be provided without prior sign-in on the website.

The vzbv analyzed about 3000 websites of providers of online services since 2022 to determine how many have implemented the termination option.. According to the report, 42% of the analyzed websites have a legally compliant implementation on their websites as of mid-2023. This is an increase of 14% over November 2022, but still far away from the required 100%.

Sky has appealed against the ruling to the Munich Higher Regional Court (6 U 4292/23 e).

Now You: have you ever had any trouble canceling a subscription?

Germany: Cancellation of online subscriptions must be possible without logging in
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Germany: Cancellation of online subscriptions must be possible without logging in
The termination of online contracts must be possible without logging in to the website of a service.
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  1. Clairvaux said on December 21, 2023 at 2:36 am

    This is stupid.

    It would not address the problems described by some commentators here who had trouble canceling subscriptions. If a company refuses your cancel request, or makes it exceedingly difficult, what difference does it make that you need to log in or not ?

    Logging in is just a way to prove you are who you say you are. Just providing your name, address and date of birth would make it desperately easy for someone else to cancel your services out of spite.

    The only problem I can see with the log-in requirement, is for customers who lost their identifiers. But websites usually offer a way to reset passwords, and companies such as ISPs can usually be reached by phone, letter or even by walking into a local branch.

    1. bruh said on December 21, 2023 at 10:36 am

      Are you kidding? Many companies make people jump through hoops to cancel something.

      The idea behind this law is to make sure there’s less hoops to jump through, whether it’ll be effective or not Idk.

  2. Albert Mc said on December 21, 2023 at 2:21 am

    If there is no logging in requirement for contract cancelation, what’s to keep me from canceling other people’s contracts?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 21, 2023 at 10:39 am

      Ethics. You do need to know some information to begin with. Most companies may also send notifications to emails or phones to inform them about the cancellation.

  3. Native said on December 20, 2023 at 10:52 pm

    How about a regulation restricting the number of subscriptions for absurd products? Every subscription-based product must offer the option of a one-time payment as well.

  4. just an Ed said on December 20, 2023 at 4:33 pm

    Actually, I would think it would be safer for the individual if you had to log in. Is logging into a site that onerous that you need a law preventing it? I can understand being irritated at some of the difficulties of trying to cancel a service that big businesses put you through, especially the interminable wait times to reach a human some torment you with, but I fail to see where logging in is one of them.

    1. Anonymous said on December 22, 2023 at 6:22 pm

      I’ll give you a nice scenario:
      you enter into a paid subscription/contract with a service provider.
      Jurisdiction for court settlement is per contract located somewhere in Cayman or Virgin islands or similar.
      The provider thereafter (intentionally, but unknowingly to you and anyone else) immediately changes after your first lockout your password to a random string -> you can no longer long in, as you don’t know the password.
      Password change/reset and contract cancellations are only available from within the web application.
      As a result you can’t cancel your contract.
      Meaning: because you can’t log in, you have to pay for the contract for the rest of your life, as you can’t cancel the contract or at least as long as the service provider provides a service, which may be of absolutely no use to anymore, because until then you can’t cancel due to breach of contract.

      That scenario is so dangerous (and actually not completely unrealistic) enough to mandate a legal termination option from outside a web application, which is under the full control of one of the contract signers.

    2. Mick said on December 21, 2023 at 2:36 pm

      I agree, without logging-in anyone can cancel anything on my behalf, so it is a natural and logical precaution.

  5. TelV said on December 20, 2023 at 1:38 pm

    In the EU at least and in the UK subscribers have the right to cancel subscriptions using the so called ‘Cooling off’ period:

  6. Hooplaa said on December 20, 2023 at 1:19 pm

    Now IMAGINE if this applied to Facebook as well….

  7. Howard Pearce said on December 20, 2023 at 9:02 am

    “Germany: Cancellation of online subscriptions must be possible without logging in”

    And the state , of course, has every right to dictate to companies how they offer services.

    I hear fascist and communist regimes do the same

    1. hear said on December 20, 2023 at 2:40 pm

      Amazing how people like Howard Pearce say stuff like this without feeling embarrassed about the stupidity of their argument. Amazing.

    2. Michael said on December 20, 2023 at 2:11 pm

      Consumer rights are fascist?

      1. Anonymous said on December 21, 2023 at 10:14 pm

        Yes in fact they are. Chapter 1 of Mein Kampf was about cancelling subscriptions.

    3. Tom Hawack said on December 20, 2023 at 1:11 pm

      @Howard, from what you write we could conclude that any form of defense is fascist, communist, totalitarian in one word. Police, army, even self-defense, and the solution would all be in anarchy. Worth a thought or two.

    4. E. Fromme said on December 20, 2023 at 11:40 am

      Facist, communist. Really Howard? Maybe if you live in Russia. Considering cancellation is not a service.
      My experience: tried to cancel a Verizon account using their website. No go. Stated it must be done by phone. No one answered. Or wait in queue. Went on for several weeks. So I just stopped using the service and then stopped paying the bill.
      Same with Spectrum. First they tried to convince me not to cancel, then upsell me. When I said no, the girl got really angry, screamed and insulted me. Again stopped using the service, stopped paying the bill.
      So, corporations are our friends then, Howard?
      Corporations are thieves.

      1. just an Ed said on December 20, 2023 at 4:25 pm

        Interesting comment. I had no trouble at all cancelling my parents account, although it was by phone. I never even tried to use their website.

  8. Punk_Gift said on December 20, 2023 at 7:42 am

    This is a common problem in the United Kingdom. Telegraph newspaper forces you to telephone to cancel, although I just cancel the payment authority directly at PayPal.

    The worst one I’ve had is Spark Network Services GmbH who threatened me with legal action when I cancelled a subscription without giving 7 days notice. I would have liked to see them do that because it is a pay-in-advance service and under English Law you can’t sue somebody for a service that hasn’t been provided yet.

    1. Brad said on December 20, 2023 at 2:59 pm

      It’s about time governments started started going after greedy scumbag companies like these. Legitimate companies have descended into becoming indistinguishable from a bunch of crooks.

      Here’s the thing though, it’s not even in the companies interest to do this, just companies run by scum who cannot see beyond quarter-to-quarter KPIs. If someone cancels a subscription and the company makes them jump through a bunch of barriers to try to prevent them from cancelling, then there’s a pretty slim chance that person will ever subscribe again.

      I will never touch any Adobe products or services ever again for this exact reason. In fact, I now view all subscriptions with contempt and will look for alternatives. In the case of Adobe, I’ve moved on to using the Affinity suite by Serif, which does not require a subscription.

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