7th Army JMTC Legal Office news release
1. A German cell phone contract is a legal contract.
2. How long does my contract last?
Most German cell phone contracts are for a period of 24 months. Then, most of them automatically renew themselves for 12 months or even longer. The contracts do not end unless you terminate the contract. If you upgrade your contract or make changes to your services, most companies will re-start the 24 months. Make sure you know when your contract formally starts and ends.
3. How do I get out of my German cell phone contract?
You have to terminate the contract. Most contracts require that you give your provider some notice. This can be between six weeks and three months before the 24 months are up. Make sure that you know what your contract says!
4. How do I terminate my contract?
Your termination must be in writing, which means you have to write a letter. Always state your name, your full address, your customer number and your phone number. Ask the company to confirm the termination back in writing. Some companies have a pre-made fillable form you can use. By the way: Never provide your Social Security Number, or SSN, to a German company. The German system uses a person’s date of birth for identification purposes. Therefore, many German companies have no idea how to use a SSN.
5. What do I do with the termination notice?
The termination has to be received by your German cell phone company, so fax the termination or send it through the German mail system via registered mail (return receipt requested). Keep copies of all of the documents because the burden of proof for the termination is on YOU. If you do a termination though one of your provider’s shops, make sure you get a copy of the termination and of the fax receipt. Keep those documents on file.
6. Can I not just send an email?
No. An email or phone call does not count as written termination. Some companies might accept an email but be careful!
7. What if I PCS/ETS?
Immediate cancellation? No. However, under German law, if you are moving to a new area where your current service is not provided, you can terminate your contract at the end of the month — but you must give at least 3 months’ notice and you have to provide a copy of your orders.
8. What do I do if I do not have my orders yet?
Just because your PCS/ETS orders arrive late, this does not mean the company will waive the 3 months’ notice. If you are awaiting your orders, try using a memorandum from your CDR or 1SG instead, as most German cell phone companies will accept that.
You may need to terminate several contracts: 1. Cell phone, 2. Cell phone insurance (“Wertgarantie”), and 3. Downloaded 3rd party apps.
10. Finally, a word of warning:
Keep all documents referring to your contract (original contract, bills, receipts of paid bills, termination notice, fax receipt etc.). Some German phone companies cooperate with US collection agencies and unpaid bills might follow you to the U.S. and show up on your credit report.
Editor’s note: The 7th Army JMTC Legal Assistance Offices are available to offer a variety of legal services to our Soldiers, their families, and DoD civilians. For more on what the legal office offers, visit “7th Army JMTC Legal Assistance Offices: What we do.”