Duration of a contract

Before concluding a contract, you should check its duration. It may be a one-time or long-term contract. Long-term contracts include ongoing and fixed-term contracts.

One-time contract

In one-time contracts, the parties fulfil their obligations once and for all. Such contracts include buying groceries in a supermarket and purchasing a car or a house.

Long-term contracts

An on-going contract is valid until it is terminated. It ends after the period of notice specified in the contract. Typical ongoing contracts include electricity supply, waste management and district heating contracts and magazine subscriptions.

A fixed-term contract expires at a specified date, for example after 12 months. A fixed-term contract cannot normally be terminated.

Renewing fixed-term contracts automatically is prohibited; this means that when the expiry date has been reached, the contract may not be automatically renewed as another fixed-term contract. However, a fixed-term contract may be turned into an ongoing one after a certain date if the ongoing contract can then be terminated with a normal period of notice. If a company offers this contract model to a consumer, the consumer must be clearly told in advance that the contract will automatically continue until further notice when the fixed-term contract period expires.

Typical fixed-term contracts include gym memberships and pay-TV, broadband and telephone subscriptions.

Read more about terminating a contract  

What you should do if you find contract terms unfair 

  • If you think that a contract term is unfair, you should first negotiate with the company on adjusting it and making it more reasonable. An unfair or unjustifiably changed contract term may concern, for example, price, duration of the contract, delivery time, payment, invoicing, penalties for errors or termination of the contract.

    Often the problem can be resolved when you notify the company as soon as possible.

    If the company does not react as you would like, submit a written complaint to the company with a detailed description of the problem and a list of your demands.

    Justify your demands and provide evidence to support your claim, if possible. For example, photographs, documents, e-mail correspondence, and other evidence (such as fault diagnoses) may help.

    You can use our Complaint Assistant to file a complaint. The Complaint Assistant also provides information about your rights and helps you assess what kind of demands you can make.

    Complaint Assistant – Filing a complaint with a company


  • If the opposing party is willing to resolve the issue, try to find a satisfactory solution through negotiation.

    Consider carefully whether you can accept the service provider’s proposal. Often there is not just one right solution. However, reconciliation is usually a better and more economical solution than a prolonged dispute.

  • If the complaint and the negotiation procedure do not lead to an amicable solution, you can contact the Consumer Advisory Services for instructions.

    The processing of your case usually requires information about the opposing party’s view.

    Consumer Advisory Services 


For companies