Although the number of rip-offs and subscription traps on the internet has declined significantly with the introduction of the so-called button lottery, shrewd businessmen have once again found the first loopholes to circumvent the law. This is one of the resumes that the bamberger verbraucherzentrale drew in its annual review of the year. "Since august of last year, online providers have had to clearly mark paid offers with an order button. But this law is only aimed at consumers, not at roughnecks," says consumer advisor, describes consumer advisor dorothea tetschlag.
Now there are operators who pretend to offer "favorable" rates only to business customers residual items for sale. No one needs to bring a proof of his trade. Often, as the consumer advisor describes, it is enough to give the wrong company or the company where you work. But those who get involved don't end up with a snapper, but with a bill for membership.
Tariffs cause headaches
Last year, there were also problems in the area of telecommunications. "Although the amendment to the telecommunications act brought about many changes in favor of consumers, it was still a persistent subject of complaints for us", recalls consumer advisor brigitte buttel. For example, inadequate information about rates, costs and technology, as well as incomprehensible and unclear contractual terms and conditions, caused a lot of customer frustration. On the positive side, a customer is now allowed to be without a telephone and internet connection for a maximum of one calendar day when changing providers.
Consumer interest in advice on financial services and insurance also remained high in 2012. "There was strong demand, for example, for comprehensive advice on how to build up an individual and effective retirement concept", buttel reported. However, many of the questions also concerned the increase in contributions by private health insurance companies.
Expert comes to the house
Since september of last year, a new advisory service has been expanding the range of energy advisory services. Advice seekers can get an expert to come to their home for an energy checkup. In the case of tenants, the expert primarily examines the consumption of electricity and heating. And during the "gebaudecheck homeowners also receive an analysis of the building's exterior and building services.
A total of 4762 citizens sought advice last year. Most of the contact requests (878) related to legal issues, 356 to telecommunications and media, 197 to the information center, 208 to building, the environment and energy, and 2468 to other information. "Although we had slightly fewer overall contacts last year, the number of consultations on financial and insurance issues almost doubled, consumer advisor brigitte buttel explains. And since these are very labor-intensive and often also lengthy, the two advisors at the bamberg consumer advice center were also fully occupied last year.
Especially as those seeking advice had become increasingly insecure and stressed. Many people had long since lost track of the plethora of products, tariffs and complex contractual terms and conditions. "The desire of many consumers for independent advice, guidance and support is more apparent than ever before", the two advisors summed up.