Consumer advice center

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Federal Association of Consumers
legal form registered association
founding November 1, 2000
Seat Berlin , GermanyGermanyGermany 
purpose Consumer protection; Umbrella organization
Chair Klaus Müller
people Lukas Siebenkotten (Board of Directors)
sales 37,307,159 euros (2017)
Employees 209 (2019)
Members 51 consumer organizations:
  • 16 consumer centers
  • 26 other associations
  • 9 sponsoring members

The German consumer advice centers are associations organized at state level which, on the basis of a state mandate, are dedicated to consumer protection and provide advisory services. They are recognized as non-profit and are part of the political umbrella organization Konsumentzentrale Bundesverband e. V. ( vzbv ) merged.


Its aim is to inform, advise , support and provide legal assistance to consumers on questions of private consumption . Advice is provided, for example, on topics such as sales law, contract law (craftsmen's services), service contract law, credit law , debt counseling and private insolvency proceedings as well as their prevention, banking and investment, gray capital market , insurance , patient law , care advice, housing advice, health services, travel law , private pension provision, construction finance , energy , electricity provider switching , environment, nutrition , household , leisure or telecommunications .

The consumer advice centers help with individual legal problems for a fee and represent the interests of each consumer individually as well as in association or class actions. In particular, it is the statutory task of the consumer advice centers to take action both in and out of court against inadmissible general terms and conditions, business practices contrary to consumer protection and unfair advertising measures by a provider.

In recent years there has been a focus of work by consumer advice centers on telecommunications service contracts with regard to questionable contract conditions and business practices as well as consumer complaints - see telecommunications companies under criticism .

The consumer advice centers also try to influence politics. For example, the consumer center Hamburg, along with 23 other organizations (including the BUND Hamburg, churches and associations from the field of renewable energies) is a co-initiator of a popular initiative that aims to remunicipalise the energy networks and establish "real" municipal utilities (public utilities with energy networks) in Hamburg Has.


The law gave consumer advice centers special privileges over other associations. In Germany, for example, in accordance with Section 8 (1) No. 4 of the Legal Services Act (since July 1, 2008, previously Section 3, No. 8 of the Legal Advice Act ), they have the right to out-of-court legal assistance and can thus advise and represent consumers out of court in addition to lawyers . This is done for a fee.

Since January 1, 2002, consumer advice centers have been able to assign individual claims from consumers in order to demand these from the provider and, if necessary, also to sue them. This enables consumer advice centers to bundle claims of individual consumers and assert them in the interests of consumer protection right up to the Federal Court of Justice .


The consumer advice centers of the individual federal states organized at state level in Germany are responsible for information and advice . The political umbrella organization of these state consumer centers is the Bundesverband e. V. (abbreviated vzbv ) based in the GSW high-rise in Berlin-Kreuzberg. He represents consumer interests vis-à-vis politics , business and society at the federal level. However, the vzbv does not offer direct consumer advice. This is done by the individual consumer advice centers in the countries.

He is in charge of the climate protection campaign for me. to you. for the climate. with the aim of providing consumer advice on mobility, nutrition and financial products, financed by the federal government. The vzbv's climate campaign ended in 2010. A total of around 1900 campaigns and 1500 educational campaigns were carried out.

Logo of the vzbv energy consultancy

Since 1978, the coordinated vzbv Energy consulting the Consumer, the largest interest-neutral consulting services on energy in Germany. In eight advisory services (telephone advice, online advice, stationary advice, basic check, building check, heating check, solar heat check and detailed check), over 550 energy advisors advise around 120,000 consumers annually on energy saving and the use of renewable energies in private residential buildings.

The Federation of German Consumer Organizations was founded on November 1st, 2000 as the successor organization to the Working Group of Consumer Associations , the Consumer Protection Association and the Consumer Institute. Its first board member was Edda Müller . From August 2007 to mid-December 2013, Gerd Billen was a member of the board. On May 1, 2014, Klaus Müller , the previous board member of the NRW consumer organization, took up his position as the new board member of the vzbv.

NRW board member Schuldzinski and Dorothea Khairat, head of the youngest advice center in Neuss (2017)

The largest single organization is the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer center based in Düsseldorf. It advises nationwide in 61 advice centers, via the Internet and via a chargeable legal advice hotline. The North Rhine-Westphalia consumer center is a founding member of the EnergieVision e. V., which awards the ok-power label for green electricity offers. There are a total of 16 state consumer centers that act as independent organizations in the federal states and work as such. However, there is a lively exchange between the individual consumer advice centers, so that there are uniform advice points of view.

Internationally, the Federation of German Consumer Organizations is a member of the European Consumer Association (BEUC) and Consumers International .


On July 20, 2011, the website went online in cooperation with the Hessen State Association as part of the Clarity and Truth initiative (for the presentation and labeling of food). This new portal triggered a lot of media coverage on the same day, so that the website could temporarily not be reached due to overload after it was activated. Negative criticism was expressed by the food industry and the German Consumer Association .

Study on needs-based advice

A study by the vzbv in 2013 was to use a random sample to show whether advice from banks and insurers is appropriate to the needs. Almost 300 cases were examined. The criticism of the federal association: Often the products offered or concluded contracts do not match the needs of the customers. In December 2013, the General Association of the German Insurance Industry (GDV) criticized the investigation as "misleading". In addition, the study is not representative due to the small number of cases examined.

World Consumer Day

Every year on the World Consumer Day on March 15, the consumer centers provide information on a key topic and carry out campaigns nationwide.

German consumer day

In order to formulate its political demands, the Federation of German Consumer Organizations has hosted the German Consumer Day every two years since 2007 as a political conference.

Model declaratory action against VW

Due to the emissions scandal , the vzbv, in cooperation with the ADAC , prepared a model declaratory action against the car group Volkswagen AG from 2018 , which has been negotiated at the Braunschweig Higher Regional Court since September 30, 2019 .


The financing of the consumer advice centers is mainly based on subsidies. In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, the budget consists of institutional funding from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, funds from cities and districts, project funds, donations and own income. On July 23, 2018, it became known that the city of Mönchengladbach had renewed the contract with the consumer center NRW until 2022 with a financing share of around 127,000 euros per year.

This own income comes partly from consumer advice. In particular, individual legal advice is only offered by consumer advice centers in many federal states for a fee. The prices of the consumer advice center often vary between telephone and personal advice and depend on the subject of advice.

Until 2012, the reduced sales tax rate of 7% applied to the fee-based consultations of consumer associations . Since January 1, 2012, the full sales tax rate of 19% has been charged instead. This legal change corresponds to a price increase of 11.2%. Gerd Billen , until the end of 2013 the chairman of the vzbv and since then State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, appealed to the federal and state governments to increase state subsidies in return.

The consumer center Bremen e. V. filed for bankruptcy in February 2019. The Bremen District Court has ended the insolvency proceedings after successful restructuring.


In contrast to the consumer advice centers, the European consumer centers are not non-governmental organizations , but institutions of the EU Commission .

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: consumer advice center  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : consumer advice center  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. The vzbv - website of the Federation of German Consumer Organizations
  2. Our Hamburg - our network. November 21, 2010.
  3. Overview of the consumer centers and the vzbv .
  4. Energy advice online . Status: April 2018.
  5. Consumer advice center for energy advice ( Memento of the original of July 8, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . Status: April 2018. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.verbü
  6. Gerd Billen becomes State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection , last accessed on January 13, 2014.
  7. Consumer advice center calls for more data protection. Handelsblatt, May 5, 2014, accessed on May 16, 2014 .
  8. Federation of German Consumer Organizations - vzbv ( Memento of the original from March 23, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  9. Federal Association of Consumer Organizations: Clarity and truth in the presentation and labeling of food. July 20, 2011, accessed July 20, 2011 .
  10. n-tv online: Industry is in a storm. July 20, 2011, accessed July 20, 2011 .
  11. Konsumentenbund criticizes “pillory portal” of the consumer center ( Memento of the original from July 12, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , visited on July 30, 2011. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  12. ↑ Investment products bypass consumer needs , last accessed on January 13, 2014.
  13. ^ Criticism of the consumer protection study , last accessed on January 13, 2014.
  14. ^ History. In: Retrieved October 30, 2018 .
  15. Financing of the consumer advice center NRW - revenue structure 2017. As of April 25, 2018, accessed on April 29, 2018.
  16. For three more years! City of Mönchengladbach renews contract with consumer center until 2022., accessed on July 24, 2018.
  17. For three more years! City of Mönchengladbach renews contract with consumer center until 2022., accessed on July 24, 2018.
  18. Cost page of the consumer advice center Rhineland-Palatinate., accessed on April 27, 2018.
  19. Gerd Billen becomes State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection
  20. Consumer advice center Bremen files for bankruptcy. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , February 20, 2019, accessed on March 24, 2019.
  21. Bankruptcy averted: Consumer advice center Bremen can go on. In: October 18, 2019, accessed December 17, 2019 .