A positive message to all consumers in Austria who searched for a partner online, but only got problems with expensive contract extensions. The Austrian Consumer Association (Verein für Konsumenteninformation, VKI) went to court against an unacceptable practice of the firm PE Digital GmbH, operator of the platform Parship. The Supreme Court of Justice of Austria now ruled in favor of the consumers.
According to Austrian law, a company has an obligation to inform its customers that their contract will be extended if they don't cancel it within a reasonable deadline. Parship sent this "notification" via mail which would be sufficient normally.
However, consumers had to click on a link within the mail to get to a website where they had to login to their profile. Only then would the respective information about the imminent contract extension be presented to them. There was no hint in either the mail nor its subject line.
As the Supreme Court of Justice now declined the extraordinary audit of the defendant, PE Digital GmbH, the ruling of the previous court (Higher Regional Court of Vienna) is final. This means that the mail sent by Parship was not sufficient and that the respective contracts were not extended.
What consumers can do now:
- If your contract was extended and you protested against the invoice and didn't pay, everything should be settled. Parship is not allowed to send any further reminders and has to accept that the extension of the contract was not legal.
- If you continued to use the services of Parship after the extension, the company may claim a proportional fee. The amount would be calculated individually. Furthermore, Parship may be entitled to a compensation for their costs, e.g. for sending out reminders.
- If your contract was extended and the money was automatically withdrawn from your bank account or if you transferred it, we recommend to reclaim the amount in writing.
Success of AK against Parship
Other good news: The Austrian Arbeiterkammer (AK, Chamber of Labour) successfully sued the PE Digital GmbH regarding excessive demands of value compensation. When consumers withdrew from their contracts within the legal period of 14 days, Parship kept a substantial part of the costs of the annual subscription as compensation. The company argued with services already provided (e.g. contacts, creation of profile etc.). The Austrian court decicded that the amount was not appropriate. Read more about this verdict in the German press release of the AK.