What started as a simple visit to a mobile phone shop in search of a cheaper rate almost turned into a cost trap for an elderly man from Munich. This 66-year-old woman just wanted to reduce her phone bills so she could call her grandchildren affordably. “Everyone has a mobile phone and calling them via landline is expensive,” says the woman in an interview with FOCUS online. Her son gave her a mobile phone for seniors and she gets along well with it.

In reality, the issue is clear: the employee could have sold you a completely net rate. This usually costs between ten and a maximum of 20 euros. She walked into the store wanting to upgrade her current contract and maybe get more free minutes. “I thought I didn't understand the world anymore when suddenly the salesman started talking about cable connections and TV rates,” said the 66-year-old.

The store employee explained to the bewildered elderly woman that starting in July she would no longer be able to watch television without an additional cable connection. “He insisted that I sign immediately. I felt very pressured.” Jutta B. signed and took the contract home. She then called her son and told him what had happened. “I was quite horrified by how careless he was. He was,” says Jutta B. “I felt bad that I allowed myself to be pushed around like that.”

Cancel the contract immediately if you feel caught by surprise.

The elderly person lives in an apartment building with a satellite system on the roof. Therefore, he is not affected by the new regulation. Jutta B. was still able to revoke the contract. The 66-year-old was able to avoid the cost trap at the last minute. It is not an isolated case. He cancels the contract immediately if he feels taken by surprise. Pervasive sales attempts are increasing due to the privilege of television.

In these cases, it is important to read the contracts carefully, have all the details explained and, above all, not to ignore the fine print. Experts recommend never signing contracts under pressure. Always take enough time to carefully check all the conditions of the contract. Don't be afraid to have all the clauses explained to you and insist on reading the fine print.

In principle, you can cancel contracts within two weeks of signing the contract. If the telephone provider shortens this period for flimsy reasons, contact customer service, consumer service centers or consult a lawyer.

How do I know if I'm already using TV privilege?

The so-called television privilege was introduced in the 1980s and today affects about 12 million tenants. Collective agreements were concluded with cable network operators for an apartment building, usually on more favorable terms. The tenants then paid for these contracts with the additional costs.

In particular, the providers Vodafone and Tele Columbus had a competitive advantage at that time. The television privilege will expire this summer. Consumer advocates had filed a lawsuit against the previous practice. Because many use their own television contracts or watch ARD, ZDF and Co. via a satellite dish on the balcony. But they will still have to pay the community contract.

Tenants should check their utility bill. If it says “collective TV agreement,” “cable television,” “TV connection,” or similar words, tenants are affected. If the item is not on your utility bill, you may have an individual contract. In this case you can sit back and relax. However, the following applies: Many providers will entice you in the coming months with discounts and low rates. It may be worth looking for an alternative or a cheap offer.

What do tenants have to do now?

The first cable network operators are already disconnecting reception. This is one of the reasons why cable, streaming and pay TV providers are currently competing for tenants who want to continue watching TV with new products and affordable rates. According to information from FOCUS online, Telekom, Vodafone, O2, Kabel Deutschland, Unitymedia, Pÿur, but also Amazon Prime Video and Sky invest a lot of money in advertising. He even contacts tenants directly by mail.

In the second step, those affected must compare all the offers and read the fine print. Cheap deals usually have longer commitment periods or only contain SD channels. If you want to receive high resolution channels, you have to pay more. The following applies to the desired sports channels: The Bundesliga rights for the years 2025 to 2029 will be reallocated in June 2024.

Who benefits from the end of television privilege and who does not?

All those households that have a cable connection but prefer to watch television through a satellite dish on the balcony or a streaming offer from Sky (Wow), Telekom (MagentaTV) or Vodafone (VodafoneTV) will benefit. You will then pay only once: for the contract you have concluded yourself. At the same time, ADSL, fiber optic and telephone customers also benefit from affordable 3-in-1 packages. Telephone, Internet and television are included in the same rate, which represents an additional cost of between 3 and 20 euros per month .

The big losers include people on low incomes and community benefit recipients. Whereas television was previously paid for through the rental subsidy, now recipients of citizen benefits have to bear the costs themselves. People with low incomes must expect additional costs of 40 euros or more per year.

And what do the owners have to do now?

To avoid having to pay the costs, owners must react quickly and do everything possible to terminate the contract. However, the owner often cannot take this into his or her own hands. Because these special cable contracts are collective, object or multi-user contracts. This means that the homeowner's association or property management company has entered into the contract for all parties. In this case, the owners must jointly express their desire to terminate the contract. This happens, for example, through a resolution of a convened owners' meeting.

Property management companies usually enter into these types of contracts for several years. Some with fixed deadlines. Termination is therefore only possible at certain intervals. Typically, a month at the end of a quarter, a month at the end of a semester, or a month at the end of a year are common. Since there has been a transition period for the past two years, which now expires on June 30, consumer advocates believe that many homeowners associations have already terminated these collective agreements.

FOCUS online advises: Inform your tenant in time about the interruption of the cable TV connection. As a rule, the property management also takes care of this by notification.