Karlsruhe (dpa) - Are companies allowed to charge their customers an extra fee for online payments via PayPal or Sofortüberweisung?
This question concerns the highest civil judge of the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) in Karlsruhe.
The competition center has sued the long-distance bus company Flixbus, but it also knows other companies that collect such fees.
Using the example of Flixbus, the competition protectors want to clarify whether this is allowed or not, so that the same requirements apply to everyone.
Whether a judgment has already been announced or a separate date will be set for it is open.
The judges announce this at the end of the hearing.
In essence, it is about a regulation with which the German legislator implemented an EU requirement at the beginning of 2018.
Paragraph 270a of the German Civil Code prohibits payment by bank transfer, direct debit or credit card.
It is controversial whether this also includes the use of PayPal and Sofortüberweisung.
With Flixbus an extra fee was due for both payment methods, the amount was graded according to the ticket price.
Paying by PayPal works with electronic money, both sides need a PayPal account for this.
If the payer does not have enough credit, PayPal will collect the amount by direct debit or credit card debit.
The Sofortüberweisung is basically a bank transfer.
However, the provider, Sofort GmbH, intervenes, informs the recipient about the customer's creditworthiness and initiates the transfer.
This should make it faster.
For both services, the retailer initially pays per transaction.
Sofort GmbH, which has been part of the Swedish Klarna Group since 2014, says it has no influence on the form in which these costs are passed on to the customer.
PayPal, on the other hand, is committed to the principle that payment is free of charge for the buyer.
In January 2018, the terms and conditions were changed according to PayPal.
Since then, retailers have been prohibited from charging their customers surcharges for the use of PayPal.
In December 2018, the Munich District Court I prohibited Flixbus from collecting extra fees for paying via PayPal and instant transfer.
The Munich Higher Regional Court, on the other hand, declared the fees to be permissible in October 2019.
At the time, Flixbus had said whether the fees would be reintroduced was not yet clear.
Now the company announced on request: "Flixbus does not charge any fees and Flixbus customers no longer have to bear any additional costs for PayPal payments and instant transfers."
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 201210-99-636189 / 2
Announcement by the BGH
Judgment of the Munich Higher Regional Court of October 10, 2019
Judgment of the LG Munich I of December 13, 2018
Competition headquarters about the procedure
Current terms and conditions of Flixbus
FAQ in PayPal Help
Klarna via the instant transfer
Q&A on Sofortüberweisung
Draft law from 2017, on § 270a BGB pp. 145-147