With a lawsuit, the Federation of German Consumer Organizations would like to enable customers to withdraw from the contract with the dating agency Parship at any time. Currently, users still have to adhere to a deadline that depends on the length of membership.
Model declaratory actions for the invalidity of the AGBs
The aim of the lawsuit is that the terms and conditions of Parship are declared ineffective. To this end, the vzbz (Federation of German Consumer Organizations) wants to submit a model declaratory action. Members of the online dating service who have opted for paid membership must, in addition to the notice period, also note the automatic renewal of membership. This can quickly lead to membership being extended for a certain period of time. That can be six, twelve or even twenty-four months. According to the vzbz, this is not legal, which is why the association wants to file a model declaratory action. The aim is to ensure that the terms and conditions of online dating services become ineffective. Then the customers could also withdraw from the contract at any time. According to the current terms and conditions of Parship, the paid membership can be canceled with a notice period of seven days to the end of membership. The notice of termination must be in text form, i.e. by e-mail fax or post.
If enough of those affected are involved, the vzbz can file a model declaratory action to declare the terms and conditions invalid. The association therefore calls on consumers who are affected to contact the association and describe their situation. There are no costs for this, nor are consumers obliged to do anything. If the vzbz’s lawsuit is successful, those affected would receive a refund. Speaker Henning Fischer from the Federation of German Consumer Organizations sees the whole thing as follows: “Customers reveal their innermost part to Parship, they must then be able to decide for themselves whether they want to stay with the provider”.
Judgment of the European Court of Justice (ECJ)
The ezbz’s lawsuit would not be the first course of action before a court for Parship after filing. Only last year was the online dating agency a counterparty in court. The decision was made in October 2020, the court found, that if membership is withdrawn in due time, the proportionate membership fee must also be reimbursed to the customer. According to information from the Bremen consumer center, the model case served was that of a consumer who had a twelve-month premium membership and wanted to revoke the contract after four days. The dating agency then demanded compensation from the consumer in the amount of 392.96 euros, whereby membership would have cost 523.95 euros for the entire period. According to the legal expert at the Bremen Consumer Center, “This requirement is disproportionately high in view of the service provided up to then”. The ECJ also took this view and agreed with the plaintiff.