New terms and conditions at German banks: Can credit institutions terminate accounts?

German banks have to change their terms and conditions and get customers to agree. This is ensured by a BGH ruling from 2021. However, there is uncertainty and reluctance among many customers, while some credit institutions even conjure up the specter of account termination. Are customers rightly afraid?

These are difficult times for German bank customers: The phase of zero interest rates continues, custody fees come on top and more and more banks are canceling their free accounts without replacement. In this situation, a BGH ruling from April 2021 forces the banks to act: The General terms and conditions (GTC) must be revised and customer approval obtained. The proverbial silent approval is no longer sufficient.

Banks introduce new terms and conditions: many customers are reluctant

But by no means all customers want to participate: For example, at Hamburger Sparkasse, the largest savings bank in Germany based on total assets, almost half of the customers did not agree to the new terms and conditions have (source: daily News). At Deutsche Bank, including Postbank and norisbank, 85 percent of customers have already been won over, according to a spokesman.

According to the Tagesschau, the matter is approached there: Those who have not yet agreed will be reminded in writing. If customers continue to refuse, they will risk an “examination of customer relationships”. Speaking a little through the flower, that means: Those who do not agree will be terminated – the fear of many bank customers would come true.

But that shouldn’t be that easy: According to the new jurisdiction, customers would have to only pay the prices that they have actively agreed to, according to a spokesman for the Berlin law firm Gansel Rechtsanwälte, which supports clients in reclaiming bank fees.

Account gone without consent? Legal situation still unclear

If, on the other hand, customers refuse to give their consent, the banks must take action. That could end in new legal disputes. According to the legal experts, banks could try to terminate giro contracts in such cases. However, it is legally not conclusively clarified whether the credit institutions would have the right to terminate in this situation.

Play it safe with online banking: This is what common TAN processes are all about.

Conclusion: If the worst comes to the worst, banks will probably give notice, but consumers can defend themselves. The last word is not spoken. However, if you are planning to change banks due to upcoming custody fees, you should be clear beforehand: With new customers, the bank will be careful to remove stumbling blocks. Agreeing might be the lesser evil in the long run.

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