DSL connections: Vodafone and 1&1 want more money

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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Telecoms providers Vodafone and 1&1 want more money from millions of landline customers with DSL or cable TV connections. They refer to the regulations in their terms and conditions. But Stiftung Warentest’s lawyers consider this to be ineffective and believe that only those who expressly accepted the price increase have to pay. Vodafone customers can join a new consumer protection class action with minimal effort. Under test.de/action collective Let’s explain the details. The rush is great. According to the Federal Court, 63,343 people affected were registered in the first few days after registration began.

1&1 now considers old special offers to be very cheap

1&1 started the round of price increases for fixed-line and Internet providers. Several test.de readers reported to us in June 2023: 1&1 wants to increase prices unilaterally, although this is not allowed. We asked and company spokesperson Robin Schmidt explained to us: “We have adjusted special rates and discounts granted some time ago as part of price promotions for some groups of customers whose rates were significantly below our list price. This has affected some legacy contracts of existing DSL customers.” .

This clearly sounded like a unilateral price increase, which was no longer permitted since a Federal Court of Justice ruling two years ago. However, Robin Schmidt added in another sentence: “Customers then have the option to accept this change or reject it in the form of a special termination. Initially, we understood this to mean that the company was interested in customers agreeing to the increase. In the meantime, however, 1&1 contacted us again and made its opinion clear: the company considers itself entitled to unilaterally increase prices.

Price increases only with express consent

In fact, 1&1’s terms and conditions literally say: “1&1 has the right to change the contractual conditions at its reasonable discretion. If 1&1 changes the terms of the contract unilaterally, the customer may (…) terminate.” Very similar to Vodafone: “Vodafone has the right to adjust the prices of contractual services at its reasonable discretion (…) if its total costs increase. (…) If Vodafone increases prices (…) unilaterally, the customer can terminate the contract without observing the notice period (…)”, it says. Test.de’s lawyers consider such clauses ineffective because it is not yet clear when and under what conditions prices will rise. There is also no obligation to reduce prices if costs decrease. .

Netflix:
Berlin District Court, Judgment of December 16, 2021
Case number: 52 O 157/21 (non-binding)
Berlin Chamber of Commercesentence dated November 15, 2023
File number: 23 U 15/22 (not legally binding)

Spotify:
Berlin District Court, Judgment of June 28, 2022
Case number: 52 O 296/21 (non-binding)
Berlin Chamber of Commercesentence dated November 15, 2023
File number: 23 U 112/22 (not legally binding)
Both processes have not yet been legally concluded. Netflix and Spotify appealed to the Federal Court of Justice. However, the jurists at Stiftung Warentest consider this to be impossible and are right: the Karlsruhe judges will confirm the verdicts.

Spotify recently asked for consent

Apparently, Spotify learned from the bankruptcy. The company has expressly asked its customers to consent to the recent price increases. Otherwise, prices remained unchanged. However, Spotify reserved the right to terminate contracts at the old price.

Objections and class action lawsuits are worth it

1&1 doesn’t seem to take its strategy very seriously. In any case, test.de readers report: 1&1 customer service expressly assured them that the old special offer price would remain after they had objected to the price increase via email. Vodafone, on the other hand, is apparently still going strong. In response to test.de’s request, company spokesman Thorsten Georg Höpken explained: Vodafone continues to see itself as entitled to unilaterally increase prices – even within the minimum contract term, which is often two years . In return, customers could cancel immediately, even if the minimum term has not yet expired. Like us, the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations (vzbv) believes this is illegal and has filed a class action lawsuit to force Vodafone to refund the illegal price increase. A change in the law that only came into force in October makes this possible. Affected customers can log in with minimal effort. Under test.de/action collective Let’s explain the details. We assume: Vodafone must reimburse everyone affected by the illegal price increases. Furthermore, there is currently 8.62% interest. However, a lot of patience will probably be needed if Vodafone doesn’t show up. The Hamm Higher Regional Court is responsible. There are four other representative shares there. vzbv lifted the oldest of them in December 2021 and the process has not yet been completed.

When paying by direct debit

If customers pay by Sepa direct debit, they can also help themselves. Sepa direct debit bookings can be canceled for eight weeks without giving reasons in order to recoup illegal fee increases. We recommend doing so only if the supplier has refused the refund despite an express request or has exceeded the refund deadline Direct debit return almost expired.

Tip: In this case, be sure to offer immediate payment of the lowest agreed rates as quickly as possible. Otherwise, you will no longer pay the price agreed with the respective supplier and the supplier may take legal action against you.

Termination risk

One thing is certain: providers have the right to terminate DSL contracts on their own initiative. We don’t know if and under what circumstances 1&1 and Vodafone do this. It may happen that customers who refuse to agree to change contracts will be terminated sooner or later. Then the path to cheap offers from other suppliers also becomes clear. There are many alternatives.

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