In rather harsh terms, the consumer advice center of Saxony on Friday asked the banks to reimburse customers more quickly from previous increases in account management fees.

A survey by the consumer advice center among banks as to how far the reactions to the judgment of the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) had progressed at the end of April only yielded vague results.

The consumer advocates spoke of a "procrastination tactic": "Banks and savings banks may not have any success if they disregard the highest court rulings," demanded Andrea Heyer, financial expert at the consumer center in Saxony.

Christian Siedenbiedel

Editor in business.

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In a ruling of April 27, the Federal Court of Justice had declared the previous practice of banks to simply notify customers of changes such as fee increases via clauses in the general terms and conditions of current accounts and then to regard silence as consent to be inadmissible (Az.XI ZR 26/20 ).

The Stiftung Warentest had designed sample letters with which bank customers can assert their claims against the institutes.

Positive exceptions

In the survey, the consumer advice center wrote to 43 regional and national institutes. Only 27 would have responded at all. Even just five months after the verdict had been announced, institutes had argued, for example, that they were “still in the process of examining the BGH ruling”. In practice, this development means for bank customers that they too will not receive any further reactions from their banks and savings banks or that they will be informed that their claims are wholly or partially unjustified.

"Sometimes a very small amount is reimbursed - or consumers are asked to waive their claim in whole or in part," reports the consumer advice center.

One institute even responded by terminating the current account after the legitimate claim had not been waived.

"From our point of view, this procedure is completely unacceptable for those affected," criticized Heyer.

But there are also positive exceptions.

ING Germany had announced that it had suspended earlier wage increases, that reimbursements would be made from September onwards, and that customers would be contacted about future changes.

"Unless other credit institutions soon follow this example, we will probably have to take legal action again in the interests of consumer protection," said Heyer.

The industry association of the German credit industry announced on request: The Federal Court of Justice had declared a contract amendment mechanism in the general terms and conditions of a credit institution to be inadmissible, which under certain conditions enabled the contractual relationship to be adjusted through silence.

The judgment concerns various reasons for changes.

This also included regulations on fees.

“Whether, in what amount and for what period of time consumers can claim back fees from their credit institution based on the judgment cannot be answered in general.” This is more a question of the individual contractual relationship between customer and bank, which therefore cannot be answered by the associations .

Which banks have already paid

Most recently, a long-standing customer of the Frankfurter Sparkasse contacted the FAZ. He had sent a sample letter to the institute and wanted the money back. The savings bank had offered him 25 euros and wanted to see all claims settled. The man wanted to know: should he accept that? Martina Schröder from the consumer center said: "Of course it depends on which account model the customer has - but the amount offered sounds very small." . If this does not react, the consumer can initiate an arbitration procedure via the ombudsman.

Legal-Tech Conny, which bundles the interests of bank customers on this issue, has now received offers from 75 institutes, a good half from savings banks. The Berlin law firm Gansel published a new list of institutes which, at their insistence, would have paid in one or more cases. These are, for example, the Sparkasse Marburg-Biedenkopf and the Stadtsparkasse Emden, the Landesbank Baden-Württemberg, the Fidor Bank, the Volkswagen Bank and the Netbank, the Debeka Bausparkasse, the Sparda-Banken West, Augsburg and Munich and among the Volksbanks the one in Bremen , Bibertgrund, Ostprignitz-Ruppin, Brilon-Büren-Salzkotten, Bremerhaven-Cuxland, Schaumburg, South Westphalia, Odenwald, Olpe-Wenden-Drolshagen, Würzburg, Vechta, Bonn, Memmingen and Westerwald.

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