Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Rant No. 19: Contracts.

I used to be under the mistaken impression that there was a standard 4-week notice period in most contracts. Not in Germany.

Here, 4 weeks is 3 months and there’s nothing standard about it. Even at the gym, there is small print and special clauses to make your contract as complicated as possible to understand or terminate.

When I left the gym here, I had already finished my initial 6-month contract. During this time period, apparently I could quit with only one months notice. When my contract had ended however, I then needed to give 3 months notice to leave. Go figure? They just automatically extend the contract which changes the terms and conditions. In the end, I had to use a doctor’s letter to get out of it.

In Berlin, a lot of people don’t know exactly how long they will stay here, and so getting entwined with long 2-year contracts for phones or internet can be tricky, especially when you don’t know the companies’ tricks like you would in your own country. Even when you do terminate after your given contract time, you are already wrapped up unknowingly into the next year of contract.

At work, my contract is even more complicated: You have to quit in the first 4 weeks of a quarter to leave by the end of the quarter. It’s not even a standard 3-month notice period. If you miss your window, you might have to wait up to 5 months to leave.

I guess 3 months notice to leave a job is fair enough. Particularly if you’re in a high position.  But in a gym? Really? 3 months for the machines to learn how to manage without you? It’s just another way to screw money out of unsuspecting consumers.

1 comment:

  1. When I first arrived here I signed a mobile contract with T-mobile. I assumed a 2 year contract was a 2 year contract. I was 3 days late cancelling which meant it was renewed for a year by which time I no longer qualified for a "young persons" contract (double kick in the chops) and had to pay 15 euros a month more for a telephone which I'd already had for 2 years. The only way to change the conditions would have been to renew for another 2 years. I obviously didn't want to do this out of principle (yes I know cutting my nose off and all that). So I didn't cause the demise of Deutsch Telekom, but I did learn the valuable lesson, when in Germany cancel all contracts the day after you sign them.