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Consumer protection - Button for online cancellation must be easily recognisable

Even though it is understandable that companies usually want to hold on to their customers for as long as possible, nevertheless, the principle that applies is that online cancellation has to be user-friendly and accessible. Recently, before the regional court of Munich, a pay TV service provider was told that a cancellation option that is complicated in its application is unlawful.

The case in question concerned a website for drawing on pay TV services. Here it was possible to conclude the appropriate agreements online and also to cancel them again. However, the respective cancellation button was very well hidden; on the website, at the lower edge of the screen, there was a button labelled ‘show other links’ and if you clicked on it then 58 links were displayed including one button labelled ‘cancel’. A consumer protection association took legal action against this method on the grounds of a breach of legal duties because the cancellation button was not directly and easily accessible for consumers. The association demanded that the company should refrain from using its method. 

The judges at the regional court of Munich agreed with this view in their ruling of 16.11.2023 (case reference: 12 O 4127/23). According to Section 312k(2) sentence 2 of the Civil Code (Bundesgesetzbuch, BGB) the cancellation button has to be easily legible and have the heading ‘cancel agreements here’ or another appropriate and clearly formulated heading. In the case in question, the lack of good legibility resulted from the fact that the point size on the button that was labelled ‘cancel’ was smaller than the rest of the body copy on the website. Moreover, according to Section 312k(2) sentence 4 BGB, the buttons and the confirmation page have to be available at all times as well as directly and easily accessible. This was however not the case here and, therefore, should this happen again the company could expect heavy fines or, alternatively, even a prison sentence. 

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