Unwittingly signed a contract online?
We regularly come across reports about "Internet rip-offs": dubious providers offering their goods and services online under a false guise. In these cases, you are led to believe the good or service is free or it is a competition to win prizes. Ultimately, you receive a bill for a subscription concluded online, even though you didn’t conclude one – at least knowingly.
What are potential consumer traps or schemes for consumers to unknowingly conclude contracts?
- Dubious offers for esoteric or erotic products and services
- Spam (unrequested mass advertising)
- Misleading promises of prizes
- Hidden offers for registration entries (primarily phone book)
- Urgent calls to participate in TV shows via 0900 numbers.
What is important for you to know in connection with an unwanted contract?
There is no right of revocation if you conclude a contract online. As a rule, when you conclude a contract, you are of majority age, were not pressured by a salesperson, and you know what is good for you.
How can you protect yourself against unwanted Internet contracts?
- Read the small print carefully!
- Be careful when clicking on buttons. If you are not 100% sure, then it’s better not to click on it! Reputable providers show a clear notice that you are about to conclude a contract before you actually do so.
- Also be careful when it comes to entering your address!
- Warn your children against online providers, as their inexperience is likely to be exploited!
You or your child has accidentally concluded a contract and a bill has now come through the letterbox?
Do not, under any circumstances, pay the bill! Even if it threatens debt collection or the involvement of an attorney, the sender will usually not follow through on this threat. If an attorney or debt collection agency becomes involved, you have the option of making an objection. If you feel you absolutely must respond to the letter, contact the provider by email. Definitely do not provide your address. Explain to the provider that you will contest the contract and not pay the bill because the portrayal on the website and conditions of participation are misleading and deceptive. Subsequent payment demands will subsequently no longer affect you.
Have you already paid the bill?
Don’t pay any subsequent bills and explain that you mistakenly paid the first bill.
Has my underage child committed a criminal offense by entering the wrong birthday?
No. And definitely do not send a copy of your child’s ID!
You will find more information and assistance here:
- Federal Consumer Affairs Bureau
- Foundation for Consumer Protection
- Swiss Commission for Fairness – Complaint form => www.lauterkeit.ch
- State Secretariat for Economic Affairs; fact sheets. etc. => www.seco.admin.ch
We have produced a sample letter so that you can defend yourself against such invalid Internet contracts.