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. 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).
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