Why does TCS not hire non-graduates

TCS: WAB course attendees automatically become members

Suddenly TCS member: How the Touring Club automatically turns course visitors into members

Graduates of the compulsory advanced training course for new drivers at TCS receive membership without being asked. The Foundation for Consumer Protection describes this approach as shady.

Anyone who has passed the car test in Switzerland must attend a further training course in the first year afterwards, the so-called WAB course. Novice drivers can test their car in extreme situations with this: an emergency stop on a very wet road, a rapid drive through a curve. One of the course providers is the Touring Club Schweiz TCS, for example in its driving center in Emmen. TCS members can attend the course there at a reduced rate, but it is also open to non-members.

After around seven hours, it's all over - and some are happy to have the last course behind them for the time being. But anyone who was not a TCS member before is likely to experience a surprise afterwards: "Welcome to TCS - you are now a member" is the subject of an email that course participants receive a few days later. And so it goes on: “Save cash thanks to TCS membership”, “What else we have to offer you as a TCS member”. And mail is also sent, such as a members' magazine and a letter from the local Waldstätte section. "We are pleased that you have decided to become a member of the TCS", this begins. But do you even have that?

When asked, a TCS spokesman admits that the wording in the letter is not the best and will be adapted accordingly. As part of the WAB courses, the TCS gives participants membership for one year. “It enables you to“ get a taste ”of the TCS for a year free of charge and to get to know the diversity of the TCS,” explains the speaker.

Consumer protection recommends a general terms and conditions check

Sara Stalder, managing director of the Foundation for Consumer Protection, calls this form of member recruitment dubious.

"Correctly, people should be given the choice whether they want to accept a free membership at all."

Stalder recommends that those who want to avoid such surprises should check the small print with the consumer protection terms and conditions check before signing up for something. "Because in some cases - for example on dating platforms - this includes clauses that trigger a gag contract with costs." This is a frequent annoyance for consumers.

The TCS spokesman sees no problem with this: “Membership automatically expires after one year, unless you actively decide to renew your membership or pay the membership fee. There are no obligations, ”he emphasizes.

Nevertheless, Sara Stalder warns: If the TCS does not clearly communicate why the invoice for the membership fee is being sent to you at the end of the year, then this is a perfidious trap. “Because for many, receiving an invoice is the same as feeling that you owe someone something. Or it is lost in the hectic pace of everyday life to check the bill more closely. " Those who would simply send invoices out into the blue would also speculate on this. And especially nowadays, with online banking, a bill can be paid quickly and you are an unwanted member somewhere, says Stalder.

TCS warned about amendment of the statutes

Consumer protection has already had experience with the TCS in the past. A few years ago he warned him because the TCS had adjusted the statutes so that membership no longer automatically ended after each year if no membership fee was paid, but a three-month notice period had to be observed. Many new members were also affected, who had previously accepted a special offer from TCS and suddenly had to stay a year longer at TCS instead of a few months. Based on the complaints, the TCS then adjusted the system again.

VCS also recruits new members through the WAB course

As it turns out, the TCS is not the only one who uses the WAB course to secure new members among the newcomers. The Swiss Transport Club VCS, for example, offers new members a 100 franc voucher for a WAB course as a welcome gift. However, membership itself is not free.

Meanwhile, the TCS does not see any reason to forego free memberships in the future. The speaker writes:

"We get a lot of positive feedback on the gift."

The number of members of the Touring Club has been growing steadily for years. Upon request, it will be confirmed that the free memberships are also included in the calculation of the membership base. However, the number has been falling slightly for several years. "That means they don't contribute to our membership growth." The TCS does not communicate how many free memberships will later be converted into full memberships.