Bank customers are entitled to reimbursement of unlawful charges. We offer Read on this page:
- This is how the Federal Court of Justice ruled
- What are the consequences of the ruling??
- What you must do to keep your account (with sample letter)
- How to enforce your right to a refund (with sample letters)
- Questions and answers
No price increase without consent
The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) has ruled: All changes to the terms and conditions of business, including all price increases without express consent, are ineffective. It is not enough to inform customers of the new conditions and give them the opportunity to object.
No account without consent
Consequence of the judgement: All banks and savings banks advertise for approval of their current business conditions. Who does not agree, must count on notice of termination. However, some companies want not only approval for the future, but also approval for the past. Customers should agree to changes in business conditions retrospectively and thus waive their rights. However, banks and savings banks cannot demand this.
Judgment without implementation
An additional consequence of the BGH ruling is that bank and savings bank customers only have to pay fees that applied when the account was opened or when the account model was last changed. On increases allotted payments within the last ten years are to be refunded. But almost all banks and savings banks refuse to do so in whole or in part, or at least play for time. Now the consumer center federation (vzbv) brought sample complaints against the citizens of Berlin savings bank as well as the savings bank Cologne Bonn, in order to force the financial institutes to fulfill the entitled demands of the customers. Details supplied by test.de under Musterfeststellungsklage against Berliner Sparkasse and Musterfeststellungsklage against Sparkasse KolnBonn.
Verbraucherzentrale Baden-Wurttemberg has sued Volks-bank Welzheim and Sparda-Bank Baden-Wurttem-berg and wants to have them banned from providing customers with misleading and misunderstandable information.
This is how the Federal Court of Justice ruled
In April 2021, the Federal Court of Justice issued a spectacular ruling on fee increases without the express consent of customers. The complaint was filed by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv). The consumer protectors demanded a judicial prohibition of the change of contract conditions only by communication to the customer.
Main message of the BGH ruling on bank fees: It is not sufficient for customers not to object to price increases or other unfavorable changes in the conditions of banks and savings banks.
ReasonClear announcement of the federal judges: Silence is not consent. "The clause runs (. ) on a unilateral, content-unlimited right to make changes (. ) beyond", it says in the Urteils-begrundung.
Consequence: Almost all fee increases by banks and savings banks are ineffective. Customers only have to pay the prices valid at the time of opening the account. You can reclaim any account management fees charged in addition to this.
Reimbursement up to ten years back
At first, consumer advocates, lawyers and we thought: The demand for reimbursement before 1.1.2018 paid amount is already statute-barred. But then the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in several cases: If the fees were paid on the basis of abusive clauses such as those concerning changes in conditions, the refund claim may not be time-barred as long as consumers could not recognize that they had a right to a refund.
European Court of Justice, Judgment of 10.06.2021
File no: C-609/19
European Court of Justice, Judgment of 10.06.2021
File no: C-776/19 to C-782/19
Statute of limitations begins later
In the opinion of our lawyers and many consumer advocates, this means for German law: The normal three-year limitation period does not begin – as previously assumed by the Federal Court of Justice and the vast majority of legal scholars – with the respective payment, but only when consumers learned of the current ruling on the ineffectiveness of the fee adjustment clause. Only the maximum limitation period of ten years may not yet have expired.
Sample texts updated
Therefore, in August 2021 we have changed our model texts for the refund claim and recommend to claim refund of the fees paid within the last ten years. For readers who have already claimed reimbursement using the previous sample letters, we offer new How to enforce your right to reimbursement and What you need to know now.
Reclaiming several hundred euros in account management fees
Consumers with accounts that were originally free of charge may often be entitled to a refund of several hundred euros. According to a report on finanz-szene.Since 2015, account management fees have risen by an average of almost 40 percent. The Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (Bafin) suspects: "This will cost the industry half of the annual surplus. According to the Bundes-bank, the most recent figure was 5.7 billion euros.
test.de explains the legal background and provides
The current practice is unlawful
Until now, if banks and savings banks wanted to change their prices or business conditions, it was sufficient for them to inform their customers at least two months in advance. The change was deemed to have been agreed if the customers did not object.
The Federal Court of Justice now says: This is unlawful and unfairly disadvantages customers if it involves a price increase or other deterioration in conditions. Quote from the court’s press release: "The defendant (= the postal bank, Note. d. Red.) is thus given a hand to shift the equivalence ratio of performance and counter-performance considerably in its favor and thus to devalue the position of its contractual partner."
Law completely misunderstood
For many years, banks and savings banks thought they were on the safe side. You and your customers ". can agree that the consent to a change. " of the account contract ". shall be deemed to have been granted if the latter does not reject it (. ) has indicated.", is called it finally in § 675g of the civil code literally. However, this is only a procedural rule, the Federal Court of Justice has now ruled. It is not a departure from the basic principle that silence is not consent, and therefore permits only those changes that are neutral or favorable to consumers. As soon as conditions are to deteriorate, customers must actively agree to this. Previously, the European Court of Justice had already ruled: If banks change their conditions without the customers’ consent, it must always be examined whether this is unfair to consumers.
Federal Court of Justice, Judgment of 27.04.2021
File no: XI ZR 26/20
European Court of Justice, Judgment of 11.11.2020
Case no: C-287/19
Which consequences has the judgement?
Increases in account management fees and other prices are only effective where customers have agreed to them. However, this has only happened in exceptional cases, for example when customers have changed the type of account or when they opened their account for free as pupils, trainees or students and it was already clear when the account was opened that certain prices had to be paid after the end of the training or after a certain age.
Price increases ineffective
Otherwise: We know of no bank or savings bank that has made price increases after opening an account dependent on customer approval. Price increases without the customer’s consent are not effective. Payments due to them must be refunded with interest. Savings banks and banks are only allowed to keep the fees that apply when the account is opened. Limitation: The right to a refund of amounts paid more than ten years ago is time-barred.
Example: A Post-bank customer opened her Giro Plus account in July 2016 – at that time still with free account management. Since November 2016, she has been paying account management fees of 3.90 euros at the end of each month, and since October 2019 even 4.90 euros. As of April 2021, the price finally rose to 5.90 euros. In addition, their Visa card cost from 1.1.2018 29 Euro (instead of 20 Euro before) per year. Your claim for reimbursement of payments, including the account management fee for June 2021, amounts to exactly 269.40 euros. In addition, the Post-bank must give out what it has earned with the money. According to the Federal Court of Justice, interest of five points above the prime rate is to be assumed – this would currently be 4.12 percent, as this is currently negative. As of 30. September 2021 this would be another 25,79 Euro. In total, the customer would be entitled to 295.19 euros.
What you have to do to keep your account (with sample letter)
After the BGH ruling was announced, all banks and savings banks asked their customers to agree to the current terms and conditions. The only exception is if the account is still very new and the current conditions were already in effect when it was opened. All those who opened their account before, received mail or a message in online banking. The letters often sounded like advertising. But they are not. Without the customer’s consent, the conditions valid when the account was opened apply to every customer, possibly without rules for online banking or the current card versions. Banks and savings banks therefore need unconditional consent to the current conditions. If it does not come, they only remains to terminate the contract. Continuing it on the basis of conditions that may be decades old is not legally defensible.
Without consent comes the notice
Bank and savings bank customers must expect termination if they do not agree to the current terms and conditions. In most cases, the financial institutions state a date by which they expect the approval. They usually ask again if the consent is missing.
test.de recommends: Check in good time before the specified date whether you wish to keep your account under the conditions specified by your bank or savings bank. Our current account comparison helps. If you decide to switch: Initiate it immediately, so that your old account at the old conditions still exists as long as possible parallel to the new account, without you still having to accept the new conditions and thus also the increased prices of the old bank or savings bank. When switching accounts, the new bank will help you. She is legally obligated to do so. We describe how this works and what you need to bear in mind in the article Switching current accounts.
No obligation for retroactive consent (with sample letter)
Some banks and savings banks demand the agreement not only for the future, but want to have their conditions and prices also immediately still retroactively approved. Customers thereby also waive their right to reimbursement of unlawfully collected fee increases. The financial institutions have no right to this. No customer has to waive his rights. If you have received such a letter, you should not use the attached form. Instead, write to your bank or savings bank:
Dear Sir or Madam,
here-with I agree to your current terms of business as requested. However, please understand: I see no reason to approve your conditions retroactively and thus to waive my right to reimbursement of unlawfully collected fee increases.
With kind regards
Independent. Objective. Incorruptible.
How to enforce your right to reimbursement (with sample letters)
Actually, bank and savings bank customers are entitled to expect that the financial institutions will refund on their own initiative the money collected in violation of the law according to the announcements of the Federal Court of Justice. However, experience with other cases of illegally collected bank fees shows that this is not how it works. Customers have always had to at least demand their right to reimbursement and often enough have had to involve the ombudsman, lawyers or even the courts. Even in the dispute over illegal fee increases, it is already apparent that the vast majority of banks and savings banks will at best only refund a portion of the illegally collected fee increases to you in return for assignment of all rights.
Demand reimbursement yourself
test.de explains how you can enforce your right to additional payment. Who can calculate easily with monthly lump sum fees, how much money his bank or savings bank has to refund, can immediately reclaim the bank fees. Where it is more complicated – because of additional fees for individual bookings, for example – you can prepare the claim by first requesting a list of the fees paid and handing over the data, which banks and savings banks are obliged to do by law. Use our
Or use consumer debt collection
At least five companies offer to claim reimbursement of unlawfully collected account management fees on behalf of consumers without cost risk.
costs: 25 percent the refund, 69 Euro lump sum or immediate payment of 10 Euro to you against assignment of all rights. Will also act without you knowing how much reimbursement you are entitled to. You must be sure, however, that your bank or savings bank has increased the fees. Costs: 25 percent of the refund. Will also act without knowing how much refund you are entitled to. However, you have to be sure that your bank or savings bank has increased the fees. costs: 20 percent of the refund or immediate payment of 20 euros to you against assignment of all rights. With legal protection free mediation of a lawyer. You need to know when and by how much the account management fees at your bank or savings bank have increased. Costs: 22.5 percent the reimbursement. In the case of legal protection free mediation of a lawyer. Will also act without you knowing how much refund you are entitled to. in cooperation with Gansel Rechts-anwalte costs: 25 percent the refund. Will also act without you knowing how much refund you are entitled to. However, you must be sure that your bank or savings bank has increased the charges.
None of these five offers has been tested by Stiftung Warentest. Individual readers criticize Conny.legal, Justify and Spree-fels. They would have had to obtain the necessary data themselves, and they waited a long time for view, they wrote.
We asked the providers. Conny.legal head Daniel Halmer explained that he could not really understand why his client and test.de reader had complained. In his own case, his bank had even paid more for the period from 2018 than it owed according to the data, following a legal reminder request from his company. Conny.legally demanded a refund up to ten years in arrears. Legal is claiming a refund of fees paid in breach of the law from 2018 until there is at least a regional court ruling confirming the long statute of limitations. Waiting is not a disadvantage for Conny customers, says Halmer, because the important fee increases only came from 2015 and in the case of ten-year statute of limitations there is still enough time to enforce the refund of amounts paid before 2018. On the co-operation of the customers Conny is.legal because of the refund of payments before October 2018, as far as one has no historical data to the respective account type yet. Only from this point in time do banks and savings banks owe their customers a statement of charges.
Gansel Rechts-anwalte spokesman Ingo Vall-dorf acknowledged delays for Spree-fels customers in November. Original quote: "We were very challenged with the many new mandates in this area. To be honest, we did not expect such a large number of queries from customer support. There were therefore in some cases major response delays. The team was then expanded in December."However, all cases were processed in time before the end of the year, so that no claim is time-barred. Because of the ten-year statute of limitations, the law firm has filed 70 pilot lawsuits. It hopes for consumer-friendly judgements. In the remaining cases, Spree-fels is only demanding reimbursement of the fees paid in breach of the law as of 2018.
Justify has not commented so far.
Questions and answers
What you should know about the reimbursement of illegal fee increases
Does the ruling of the Federal Court of Justice only apply to the Postbank sued there or also to other banks and savings banks??
According to German law, judgments are only directly binding on the parties involved in the proceedings. These were the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv) and Postbank. But it was about the validity of a Post-bank-condition, which was almost identical in the contract conditions of all other banks and savings banks. It is impossible for judges to judge the same business conditions differently at different banks or savings banks.
We do not know of any bank or savings bank that has made changes to the terms and conditions of business dependent on the consent of the customer. After the judgment, it is therefore clear that the price increases and other changes to the terms and conditions of all banks and savings banks that are detrimental to customers are ineffective, unless customers agreed to them in individual cases.
Banks and savings banks must refund payments attributable to unlawful fee increases. "Disgorgement of unjust enrichment" is what lawyers call it.
Does the ruling of the Federal Court of Justice only apply to account management fees or does it also cover other fees??
The ruling covers all terms and fees that banks, savings banks and other companies have changed to their detriment based on the silence-is-consent rule without the express consent of customers.
I am self-employed and have an extra company account. Can I also claim reimbursement of fee increases for this account, which I have not expressly agreed to??
In our opinion yes. The ineffectiveness of the clause is based on the deviation from the basic principle that silence is not consent. This also applies to entrepreneurs and businesswomen. The Federal Court of Justice had already ruled in this way in the dispute over credit processing fees.
Federal Court of Justice, Ruling from 04.07.2017
File no: XI ZR 562/15
Limitation, however: The "silence-is-consent" business condition is likely to be effective vis-à-vis merchants or companies that are considered as such according to the rules in the Commercial Code. For them it is already valid by law: Silence in response to a commercial letter of confirmation is deemed to be consent.
My bank says with reference to a somewhat older BGH ruling: The three-year solution applies and therefore the price I had to pay at the beginning of 2018 is valid. Is this permissible?
We think it is wrong. The three-year solution was developed by the Federal Court of Justice for energy supply contracts with an ineffective price adjustment clause. Thereafter, the price applies if customers have not objected to it within three years of calculation.
The background to this announcement by the Federal Court of Justice: energy supply companies have to procure their own energy at highly fluctuating prices, and their customers know this. Claims for refunds based on prices at the time of contract conclusion would have caused serious difficulties for the companies. The Federal Court of Justice therefore saw reason for a so-called supplementary interpretation of the contract in order to limit refund claims.
With the interest situation with account contracts, where it concerns comparatively small remunerations for services, the situation is not comparable. No bank or savings bank will therefore get into serious difficulties. The financial supervisory authority Bafin suspects: It will possibly halve the surplus. There is therefore no reason to limit the claims of bank and savings bank customers for reimbursement of illegal fees with a supplementary interpretation of the contract.
Do I always have to pay only the prices valid when the account was opened??
No, not always, but very often. If you exceptionally agreed to a fee increase, then these fees apply. If, for example, you have an account with Postbank and have changed the account type from "Giro Basis" to "Giro plus" on your own initiative, the prices that applied at the time of your last account type change should now apply to you as a rule.
In the case of accounts that consumers had already opened as pupils, students or trainees, it was often clear that certain fees would have to be paid for account management after the end of training or from a certain age. In the case of such accounts, the fees that came into force in this way at the time are still valid today. However, later fee increases are not effective.
If banks and savings banks do not refund illegally collected funds on their own initiative, can I rely on them to debit only the originally agreed fees in the future??
As far as we know, they unfortunately do not. Exception: The Postbank, which has now been convicted by a final court decision of having made an ineffective price adjustment, has not yet been tested.The German Post Office has signaled to the public that it will once again charge the old rates, so that many old Post Office bank accounts will once again be free of charge. However, even the Postbank will not make refunds on its own initiative. Customers must therefore request this. ING Diba has acted in a similar way. It explained to the consumer center Saxonia that it stopped the collection of the illegal increased fees. Many other banks and savings banks, however, continued to collect or did not provide any information at all, reports the consumer advice center in Saxony.
What do I do if I am not sure which fees I have to pay now??
If you want to be on the safe side, first check when you stopped agreeing to changes in fees. As a rule, you agree to the current conditions if you change the account type on your own initiative. From this time on, the then current prices and other conditions apply. Later changes are no longer relevant for you. You can check your account statements to see what fees applied at the time of the last change of account model.
Demand reimbursement for all fee payments within the last ten years that exceed these fees. If you first demand more than you are entitled to out-of-court and from the ombudsman, it usually doesn’t matter. Theoretically, your bank or savings bank can have the court determine that you are not entitled to as much money as you demanded. Consequence: They must pay court costs and if necessary also lawyer fees. However, banks and savings banks only do this in extreme individual cases.
However, if you take formal legal action and claim more than you are entitled to, you will have to pay the portion of the court and attorney fees that corresponds to the ratio of the overclaim to the total claim.
Example: You have demanded 200 euros by court order or complaint, but you are only entitled to 150 euros. You have to pay 25 percent of the costs (50 euros overcharge / 200 euros total claim =). If the legal dispute ends after the first instance, this is normally around 81 euros, so that in the end you will only have 69 euros left over from the 150 euros to which you are entitled.
My bank had drastically increased the fees for my account, but at the same time offered me to switch to a free online account. But I didn’t want that and am now paying high fees. Is such a fee increase also ineffective??
Yes! Only if you have expressly stated that you want to keep the old account with the new prices, then the drastically increased prices apply to you. Silence does not become effective consent even if your bank offers you alternatives.
Does the BGH ruling have any further consequences for me??
Very likely: yes. Not only price increases, but also all other changes in the terms and conditions of your bank or savings bank that are disadvantageous to you are ineffective.
The case before the European Court of Justice (see above) concerned a liability rule that was detrimental to customers for the payment of small amounts via NFC cards or apps, where customers only have to hold their card or smartphone close to the cash register and the payment is automated via radio (Contactless payment: Paying with a card or smartphone – how it works).
However, it is difficult to assess which ineffective changes in conditions are of practical importance.
My Volks-bank only wants to refund a small part of the fee increase. What should I do?
Contact the complaints office of the Federal Association of German Cooperative Banks (Bundesverband der Deutschen Volksbanken und Raiffeisenbanken). The ombudsmen there assess the legal situation broadly as we do and accordingly recommend that the banks refund any payments due to unlawful fee increases. However, the cooperative banks do not have to adhere to it. With the recommendation of the complaints office behind you, it should be possible to enforce the refund in court without any appreciable risk. Call in a lawyer if your cooperative bank does not pay despite the recommendation of the ombudsman or ombudswoman. It is more convenient to use a collection service (see above). In return, however, the company will retain 20 to 25 percent of the fee refund as a commission or demand a fee of up to 69 euros.
My savings bank only wants to refund a small part of the fee increases. What to do?
If you are not a customer of Sparkasse KolnBonn or Berliner Sparkasse: Either contact a debt collection service (see above) or a lawyer or contact the responsible ombudsman. In most cases, this is the conciliation body of the German Savings Bank Association (Deutscher Sparkassen- und Giroverband). In the decisions available to us so far, the ombudsmen there have come to the conclusion, which is unjustifiable from our point of view, that the savings bank fee increases are at least partially effective despite the BGH ruling and recommend that customers accept that they cannot demand a refund. However, the complaint suspends the statute of limitations until six months after the end of the proceedings, so that you gain time in any case.
We are sure: The courts will rule in favor of savings bank customers. With the basic rulings behind you, you should be able to enforce your refund claims without any appreciable risk.
I have an account with Berliner Sparkasse or Sparkasse KolnBonn. How do I get a refund of illegal account fee increases??
If you have not already done so: Determine how much in fees you have wrongly paid, if you can. If no: Use the sample text "Letter of claim in the case of an unknown sum" from our sample action for a declaratory judgment against Berliner Sparkasse and under Sample action for a declaratory judgment against Sparkasse KolnBonn. We update the reporting there continuously.
My bank wants to refund me only a small part of the fee increases. What should I do?
Turn to the ombudsmen of the private banks. He is likely to judge the legal situation broadly as we do and to hold banks to account. Unlike many savings banks and cooperative banks, private banks usually have to pay if the ombudsman considers the customer to be in the right.
I have an account with Kasseler Sparkasse. The wants that I among other things the ". Price changes since April 2018. " agree. On the phone, an employee explained that I thereby waive any claims for reimbursement. I have on it-hin, as of test.We recommend that you informally agree to the current terms and conditions. However, the savings bank wants me to use their form. What should I do?
We think: It is sufficient if customers accept the current conditions informally. The savings bank may not force customers to use their forms. Sure: It can be that the savings bank insists nevertheless on the agreement preformulated by it and cancels the account, if it does not come. We have therefore inquired. "We have asked our private customers since mid-October 2021 to agree to our prices and conditions with validity "from 01.01.2022" requested. This consent is expressly valid only for the future, i.e. it has no retroactive effect and no waiver of any refund claims for the past," Katrin West-phal, spokeswoman for Kasseler Sparkasse, wrote to us. Customers of the Kasseler Sparkasse can now rely on this clarification.
The Post-bank had once offered current accounts through Tchibo. It advertised with it: "Permanently without account maintenance or annual fees. For all times – promised!"I have such an account. Do I have to expect fee increases now like everyone else??
No, the post office bank keeps its promise, after consumers and Verbraucherschutzer had protested. It can be however that the post office bank cancels such still free accounts sometime, if customers are not ready to agree to fees. Despite the full-mouthed promise "For all times", the bank should be entitled to do so, as long as it makes use of its right of cancellation in a non-discriminatory and equal manner. However, Post-bank had taken back such terminations, at least in individual cases, after customers had complained to the financial supervisory authority Bafin. Further details about these post-bank accounts are provided by the consumer advice center in Hamburg.
We have requested the Volksbank Stuttgart to refund account management fees for our current account. The bank has now written to us: "We hereby submit to you the following offer (. ): The account (. ) will be continued in the future and approved for the past by you. This also means that you waive the account fees that you have paid to us since then. We ask for your understanding: Only under these circumstances is it possible for us to maintain the calculation for you. (. )" That means nevertheless probably: If we want our right, we get the notice?
Thus we understood the letter, which the people bank Stuttgart at least individual customer sent, also. We consider this to be openly illegal. We have therefore inquired with the Volks-bank.
Your spokesman Robert Hagelen writes to us that the bank has calculated a price for its accounts in order to be able to offer them economically ". both in the past and in the future. Therefore, in our view, it is fair and legitimate to make customers an offer to this effect. Finally, they have also used the total package in the past and we have provided the corresponding capacities."
Our readers should therefore actually do without their good right, if they want to remain with their club account with the Volks-bank Stutt-gart. The lawyers at the Federation of German Consumer Organizations and the Baden-Wurttemberg Consumer Center are examining whether they can have the bank prohibited from doing so by the courts.
The people bank Stuttgart writes further: If I withdraw something from the end of September or give a transfer order, I approve the current conditions, for the future and the past. So I can’t use the account at all from the end of September without giving up all my rights. That can’t be right, can it??
We think this is also illegal. But it is not that clear. According to a regulation in civil law, it is actually permissible to attach such significance to behavior if consumers have sufficient time to express themselves explicitly on the subject beforehand. However, this is not the case.
Volks-bank Stutt-gart does not point out the possibility to explicitly refuse the approval, so that customers can use the account without restrictions as long as it is not cancelled. In addition, it remains unlawful to require customers to approve the conditions for the past as well (see answer to the previous question).
Volksbank Stuttgart is not only trying to (illegally) enforce its prices retroactively for the past, but is also putting affected customers under time pressure.
I have demanded a refund of account management fees from Sparda-Bank Baden-Wurttem-berg. The bank is now giving me a choice:
– Waiver of the refund and further 5 euro account maintenance fee per month
– Or: refund of the 50 Euro and in the future 7,50 Euro account maintenance fees per month
– Or: refund of the 50 euros and termination of the account.
Is that legal??
At first, this sounds like a punishment for customers who assert their rights. That would be clearly inadmissible. The consumer center Baden-Wurttem-berg has sued the bank and wants to have such statements forbidden by the court.
In response to our inquiry, Sparda-Bank Baden-Wurttem-berg explained: From 1. From October 2021 onwards, the account management fee will cost 7.50 euros for everyone. In return for waiving the reimbursement of illegally collected fees or the approval of the previous ineffectively agreed fees, the bank offers affected customers to continue to manage the account for 5.00 euros per month until the end of September 2024.
So it should be permissible from our view. According to the matter, affected customers will receive their wrongly paid fees back via the reduced account management fee. However, the letter remains ambiguous and is likely to put consumers under pressure in a way that is unlawful.
I have an account at Volks-bank Welzheim for which I have been paying five euros a month since October 2020. The bank has now written to me that I should waive the refund of the fees. Otherwise they will terminate my account. What should I do?
We consider this to be grossly illegal. The Verbraucherzentrale Baden-Wurttem-berg has already filed a lawsuit and intends to have the bank prohibited from doing so by the courts. Nevertheless, it is quite possible that the ruling will come too late for you to stop the illegal termination of your account. If you don’t want to call in a lawyer yourself, you should look for a new account at a bank with more respect for the rights of its customers or accept the indecent offer for the sake of peace and quiet.
I have heard that some banks will terminate your account if you ask for a fee refund. Is this true? And: Are they allowed to do that??
This seems to happen, but only rarely. One thing is certain: The Sparkasse Wittenberg has terminated at least two customers who have demanded reimbursement of fee increases with reference to the ruling of the Federal Court of Justice. It is unclear, however, whether this was the sole reason for the termination.
The savings bank claims in their cancellation letters that the customer has objected to the price increases. It is not reasonable to continue the contracts at the previous prices, therefore it is entitled to terminate them.
In response to a question from test.A spokesman explained that it was not true that the savings bank had terminated current accounts in response to the assertion of rights. However, he did not want to comment on details in view of banking secrecy.
Canceling current accounts because the holder is asserting his rights is, in the opinion of test.de in any case legally-incompatible. Savings banks, as institutions under public law, are also directly bound by law and always have only a very limited right of termination. Even if a customer objects to the terms and conditions, Sparkasse Wittenberg is only entitled to terminate the contract in exceptional cases.
Apart from that: The regulation in the terms and conditions, which entitles the Sparkasse Wittenberg to terminate the contract, should be ineffective. It was supposed to be included in the contract as an amendment to which the Sparkasse interpreted the customer’s silence as consent, and is therefore ineffective. Savings banks used to use a termination rule that the Federal Court of Justice declared ineffective back in 2015.
Federal Court of Justice, Judgment from 05.05.2015
Reference number: XI ZR 214/14
What do I do if my bank or savings bank cancels my contract just because I demanded a refund of illegal fees??
If you do not want to immediately call in a lawyer and take legal action against the bank or savings bank, your only option is to look for a new account with another provider. You can find the most favorable account for you in our current account comparison.
Please always inform the local consumer center or the consumer center federal association. They will hardly be able to save your account, but they have the option of taking legal action against such banks and savings banks for anti-consumer practices. Courts can prohibit practices contrary to consumer rights and impose heavy fines in case of violation of such prohibition.
Stiftung Warentest recommends that bank customers demand a refund of all fees paid in violation of the law within the last ten years – with reference to new rulings by the European Court of Justice. Is it for sure that the courts will confirm this?
We have discussed this with consumer advocates, lawyers and legal scholars and believe that it is likely that the courts will only consider the reimbursement of fees paid over ten years ago to be time-barred.
Quite sure is the same-but not. Some legal scholars do not believe that the new rulings of the European Court of Justice will force a change in the interpretation of the German statute of limitations in conformity with European law. The banking associations also continue to be of the opinion that the reimbursement of pre 1.1.Amounts paid in 2018 are statute-barred.
Even if the courts end up being consumer-unfriendly, you don’t take a risk with the requirement, though. There is no appreciable risk of costs until you assert your claim in court. You should consult a lawyer, who will inform you in detail about the opportunities and risks. If you contact the ombudsman, you will not have to pay anything, even if he partially rejects your claim.
How do the various ombudsmen decide when bank or savings bank customers complain to them about unpaid or wholly or partially refused refunds of unlawful fee increases??
This is quite different. The ombudsmen responsible for savings banks are the least consumer-friendly. As far as we know, they are united in their opinion: only fee increases that customers have objected to within three years are ineffective, see the answer to the question above: My bank says (. ): The three-year solution applies and therefore the price I had to pay at the beginning of 2018 is valid. Is this allowed?. Werner Borzutzki Pasing, mediator of the Federal association of the German people banks and Raiff iron banks (BVR) against it means like we find completely rightly: This three-year solution fits for account contracts, so literally: ". not at all". He sees at least a claim for reimbursement of the since 1.1.2018 paid fee increases. In line with our legal opinion, the ombudsman of the Association of Public Banks (Vob) responsible for the state and development banks, Herbert Wagner. He means: All payments within the last ten years that are due to fee increases after the opening of the account are to be refunded.