Bringing up the Big Guns to Give Notice
– Reliable Canceling a Contract or Subscription –
Notice of cancellation accepted exclusively on Sundays from 11 p.m. until 12 a.m.? Login if you wish to find out if this true or not!
Notice of cancellation only accepted on marble plates?
Signed with your blood?
Well, it is actually not that complicated to cancel contracts in Germany.
In almost all cases, you will not encounter any problems whatsoever. However, some providers are notorious for welcoming you with open arms when signing a contract, but then daring you to even think of cancelling…
In the event such a contractual partner wants to play hardball, this guide will help you! Many persons have previously shared their frustration us about absurd or silly requirements to “legally” give notice, so we have decided to show you how to professionally counter the harassing tactics of some major providers.
When the provider starts bullying, many feel lost and think they have no rights against a big company. But you, the consumer, are almost always in the pole position. All you need are some guts, a binder, and these “guerilla hints.”
Do not put up with uncooperative providers, Guerilleros! No pasaran!
Thanks go towards: tokamuwi / pixelio.de
Step 1: Giving Notice
When giving notice, as with all important communication, do it in writing. Overcome the temptation to call the hotline. Do not make any agreements with call-center agents. Who knows if and what the note in your account will be? It is likely that such “negative” communication will suddenly be lost when you refer to it. You are responsible for proving you gave notice. Anyhow, many STC or contracts require a written form for cancellation. That form is legal and fair – but nothing more.
Operational Phase 1: Sending the Notice
Many companies set up special rules or procedures, such as calling a certain hotline, using an online portal, sending a fax or using a certain form. Simply ignore such nonsense! Instead:
1. Write a plain and simple letter saying that you cancel your contract.
2. Consult your contract to find the correct deadline for giving notice. Sometimes you might find this online under “My Contract (Details)”.
3. Do not forget the date, customer number and your signature.
4. If previously granted, simultaneously withdraw your permission for direct debit to the end of the contract.
5. Ask for a written confirmation of your notice.
6. Send a registered letter (Einwurf-Einschreiben) to the address mentioned on the “Impressum (imprint / legal notice)” of the company’s website. If you have a scanner, or can produce a PDF with signature, then send the PDF to the eMail address mentioned in the imprint. If you can send a fax, do that also. The more the better in this circumstance.
7. If you are lucky, that will do the trick, since you forwarded the notice via several different channels. In any case, go online with the Sendungsnummer (shipment number) and retrieve the delivery notice and print it / store it on your PC as a PDF file.
Excursion for Paranoid:
Many people suggest that you send a registered letter with a return card (Rückschein-Einschreiben). That is a possibility, but sometimes such mail might be refused. Then you spent more money and still have no proof of delivery – actually you only have proof of the company’s refusal. The simple registered letter (Einwurf-Einschreiben) however does give proof of delivery.
A registered letter does prove receipt, but the provider might allege that you did not send a notice but a cute picture of a dog. If this makes you feel uncomfortable, then there is still a final and absolute possibility. Hire the court’s bailiff (Gerichtsvollzieher). Send a letter to your Amtsgericht, Verteilerstelle Gerichtsvollzieher, asking him to serve the attached letter. This will cost around € 30 and can require up to four weeks’ time. Then your letter will be served with the court’s full authority, and you will receive an official notification of service of the notice (and the bailiff’s invoice).
Operational Phase 2: Securing Evidence
Keep a copy of the notice itself, the transmission receipt from your fax, and of the eMail and put them all in a binder. A simple fax transmission report is OK, but a qualified one is much better. The qualified transmission report shows the successful transmission of the letter you sent on the first page. Understand this as sending report over the letter you faxed.
Operational Phase 3: Waiting for Counteroffensive
Your opponent will choose one of following three tactics:
1. The notice will be confirmed. If this happens, save the confirmation, wave the guerilla flag, cry "Venceremos!".
2. The opponent plays dead. That is no problem. You can always show that you have given notice. If you want to, but you do not have to, you can send a reminder with another registered letter requesting the confirmation.
3. They claim the notice is invalid, because...
3.1. the notice was booked too late into their system and therefore the period to give notice has expired,
3.2. they want to first see the return card or proof of registered letter,
3.3. they first want to have a clarifying phone call and then they might accept the notice,
3.4. Virgo first has to have sex with Mars…
All these “reasons” are legally nonsense and just delaying tactics.
Operational Phase 4: Hit the Bunker
In case your adversary employs strategy 3.2. to 3.4. and simply treats your contract still as valid: Keep cool, Guerillero! Reassure yourself that the legal scenario is as follows: You have clearly declared your will ("I cancel!"). This declaration was received by your supplier within the right time and in the proper form. Everything else is just delaying program that you may simply ignore.
It might be that your fingers are itching to write flaming letters: Don’t do it! If you really cannot resist, then go ahead and write, then print the letter and tear it into pieces. Anything else is just a waste of time. Just remain in your bunker and keep the binder over your head and await the unpreventable impact of grenades.
Caramba, Ché! Now fun 's a’coming!
Operational Phase 5: The Opposing Barrage
Your opponent still considers you as a contractual partner – though this is not really the case anymore. He will start to barrage you. Just file incoming reminders and threats. Oh, already full? Well, we told ya to take a large binder…
Bandits will try to continue to directly debit your account. Countermand the debit at your bank – instantly. You have cancelled your permission for direct debit. Of course, the result will be further reminders. So what!
Perhaps you may have the idea that it might be time for clarifying peace talks? No way! All has been said, Ché, our defense line stands.
Operational Phase 6: Big Bertha
At some point, your opponent will recognize that his invoice-cannonballs have not incurred any damage. Now, the Big Bertha will be polished up and aimed at you: collection agencies (Inkassobüros). When their first collection demand comes, you might get panicky. But relax: Comandante King is with you!
Keep in mind that your excellent defensive position has not changed. You have a punctually served notice with several proofs of delivery. That is actually all that counts. There is still one remaining soft spot in your shell. While collection agencies are toothless tigers, the court is not!
After multiple letters of threat ("Consequences!", "Costs!", "Kneecap!") you might receive a yellow envelope from “Zentrales Mahngericht für …” This will be a collection order! Act! You have received a “Mahnbescheid (Court’s Reminder)”. This is truly serious ammo! Act now!
You have to respond (i.e. “Widerspruch einlegen”) with the provided form within 14 days of receipt. You were away for a few days and are not sure when it arrived? Take a look at the yellow envelope. A note of the day of delivery has been made thereupon. If you don’t dispute the Court's Reminder, then the collection order will become valid and the opponent can start enforcing payment. This remains true even if you have all the rights in the world at your side! There is no way around it – no way to circumvent.
If you have to travel or have a vacation booked, make sure that somebody reliable empties your mailbox! Otherwise the court’s reminder will pass through. Anyhow, who goes on vacation during combat, eh Compadre?
Well, now you have received yet another yellow envelope and it contains a “Vollstreckungsbescheid (Collection Order)”. Compadre! Why did you leave? You were not supposed to leave your bunker! Tsk, tsk. Always have to learn the hard way, eh? Well, not all is lost right now. Now dispute this order and do it reliably. This is your very last chance! Immediately send it to the court and not to anyone else! Bold advisories will now enforce payment because they have a legal instrument to do so. Now you have to hire a lawyer who will stop this enforcement and continue with collection proceedings. Tsk, tsk. You had to lose your perfect defense, did ya?? Don’t forget while on high sea or court, you’re in God’s hands…
Operational Phase 7: Now for the last Fight
After you have countermanded the court’s reminder, your stubborn provider might still send some collection mercs around trying to persuade you to withdraw your dispute claim. In the meantime, you have matured into an experienced service guerillero that such action will not even trickle a reaction at all.
In all likelihood, your opponent will now surrender – de facto, without you having done anything. The next step would be that he would have to sue you for payment. In order to do this, he would have to hire an attorney. That can become expensive. It is also pretty risky. The plaintiff, your ex-provider, has to prove in court why your punctual notice given via several channels is absolutely wrong and invalid. He’s in for fun! If the company sues you and loses it will be obliged to pay all the legal costs. Understand here as legal costs: court fees, their lawyer, your attorney. This is the reason why they rarely go to court.
If, against all odds, you are actually sued, go and hire a lawyer to represent your interests. Bear this wisdom in mind: A person who defends himself in court is a fool.
Step 2: Package Insert:
This guide aims at giving the normal consumer a “normal” scenario with some practical hints. Lawyers have successfully practiced these steps many times. Sometimes pink elephants are pulled onto the highway. If this is the case, i.e. when the measures taken against you are more severe or extremely different than described here, contact a lawyer!