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vzbv issues warning against e-scooter terms and conditions

Providers of e-scooters try to shift risks and responsibilities to their customers in a legally critical way. This was the result of a recent review of the terms of use of five major rental companies by the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv). The vzbv found serious violations at all providers, such as inadmissible liability regulations and the passing on of maintenance and inspection obligations to customers. The vzbv has since issued a warning to the companies.

After reviewing the terms of use, the vzbv issued warnings to five rental companies that recently began operating in German cities: JUMP Bicycles GmbH, LMTS Germany GmbH (Circ), Neutron Holdings (Lime), TIER Mobility GmbH and VOI Technology Switzerland AG. The result is not very flattering for the young industry: a total of 85 clauses are illegal according to the vzbv.

Customers required to perform comprehensive inspection

According to the vzbv, customers are disadvantaged above all by the liability regulations. Anyone who rents an e-scooter “at his own risk” is liable, on the most anti-customer interpretation, for almost all damage caused, for example, by accident or theft, regardless of his fault.

In some cases, the providers guarantee neither a roadworthy condition of the scooters nor functioning batteries. Some even pass on their obligation to carry out regular maintenance and inspections to customers in full, obliging them to carefully check brakes, lighting, wheels, frames and batteries, among other things, for any defects before each journey. At the same time, consumers are usually not even able to carry out the required inspection professionally.

No performance guarantees

The vzbv is also critical of the fact that the companies do not guarantee that their rental service is available at all. A typical formulation: “VOI provides the services without giving any kind of guarantee in this regard,” says Jungbluth. Several providers reserve the right to limit or discontinue the service at any time and to change the rental conditions at short notice without regard to the interests of the users.

Circ has already submitted the required cease-and-desist declaration. The company Tier has changed its conditions. Other providers have signaled that they intend to change their clauses and issue the required cease-and-desist declaration. If they do not, the vzbv will take legal action.

Many pitfalls in the fine print

There are numerous other clauses in the terms of use that are illegal in the opinion of the vzbv. Some examples:

  • From the payment account may be collected all costs which, in the opinion of the lender, were caused by the customer — including claims from third parties. Providers reserve the right to block users’ access to the rental service even after minor payment arrears or to terminate it at any time without stating reasons.
  • Sometimes customers are asked to pay completely excessive penalties if they park the vehicle incorrectly or do not deregister it correctly.
  • Rental fees are generally not refunded or only if the customer complains at short notice — even if the customer could not start the trip because the scooter was defective or the battery was empty.
  • Personal data can be used for advertising purposes, for example, without the required consent of the customer.
Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.

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