What do the consumer advice centers do?
The consumer advice centers are non-profit organizations that are organized as independently registered associations in all federal states. They are primarily publicly funded and offer provider-independent information and advice on various matters relating to everyday consumer life, such as on the topics of energy, financial services, food and nutrition as well as health and care. The consumer advice centers also help consumers enforce their legitimate interests in relation to providers and support economic, health and digital consumer protection in relation to political bodies, administrative authorities and associations.
In the field of health and care, the consumer advice centers promote the interests of insured persons, patients and care recipients. Together with the Federation of German Consumer Advice Centers (Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband – vzbv), they are recognized organizations for patient and care recipient involvement pursuant to Section 140f of the Fifth Book of the German Social Code (SGB V) and Section 118 of the Eleventh Book of the German Social Code (SGB XI) and work on patient involvement committees at state and federal level, for example the Joint Federal Committee (Gemeinsamer Bundesausschuss – G-BA).
In terms of consultation, the consumer advice centers are committed to enforcing the rights of patients, care recipients, care facility residents and insured persons in relation to doctors, care providers, other service providers and health and care insurance providers. In cooperation with all consumer advice centers and the Federation of German Consumer Advice Centers, uniform nationwide advice is developed and professional standards are ensured.
One of the consumer advice centers’ central tasks is to provide consumers with quality-assured, easily accessible, supplier-independent information. To this end, 14 consumer advice centers operate the joint website www.verbraucherzentrale.de, which covers all topics relating to everyday life.
The consumer advice centers work in the following areas:
- consumer advice and information
- enforcement of rights
- consumer policy lobbying and policy advice
- consumer education
The Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate consumer advice centers collaborate with the portal gesund.bund.de.