Expensive trial memberships

First, there is a tempting offer: A young fair hostess promises a two week, non-binding membership at the autotuning club or participation in a prize competition.


But with signing the form, the problems start: What was said to be free of charge, turns out to be an expensive club contract of several years duration.

ECC Austria knows such cases not only from Austrian consumers, but also from consumers who visited fairs abroad, like in Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Italy. More and more consumers report that such autotuning clubs have sales booths in shopping centres also.


The procedure is always the same: After asking several times, consumers are assured that they are not committing to anything. But the small print of the contract tells another story. The upset arrives months later: a high bill.


With their oral promise that the offer is free of charge, the fair staff mislead the consumer. The contract is therefore contestable. But such oral statements are often hard to prove.


ECC consumer tips


To avoid such problems, don't hesitate anything when visiting a fair. When a signature is requested, consumers should read forms and contracts carefully. Price indications are often hidden and unrecognizable at a first glance. We strongly advise not to rely on an oral statement, but to watch out for written price indications.


The following legal regulations are valid since 13.06.2014:


At first, you need to distinguish if the contract was concluded at a fair or event that only takes place once or twice a year, or at a sales booth that is installed permanently at a shopping centre:

  • If you walk to a stall at an annual (or twice a year) fair, it is doubtful wether you have the right to withdraw.
  • If you concluded the contract at a permanent or regular sales booth (e.g. weekly market), you can't withdraw.
  • But if you were just walking at the fairground, and a hostess stopped you and lead you to a booth, you can withdraw within a period of 14 days. 

Get expert advice free of charge at the European Consumer Centre Austria (info@europakonsument.at, Europa-Hotline: 01/588 77 81).


Last update on 04.12.2014

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