Frankfurt The German savings banks are making great progress in getting their customers to agree to general terms and conditions and thus possible price increases. The step had become necessary after a BGH ruling on invalid fee adjustments. In many regions, the GTC approval rates are now over 90 percent, as a survey by the news service Bloomberg among the regional savings bank associations shows.
For many years, credit institutes had assumed that, for example, approval of higher account management fees would result in a customer not objecting to an announced change. However, the Federal Court of Justice put a stop to this last year. Banks were then forced to contact their customers and obtain active approval, for example for price increases that had already taken place.
The unexpected verdict, which was about a division of Deutsche Bank, had moved the banking sector – also because it was initially unclear whether it would be possible to get all customers to agree to the terms and conditions. After an initially sluggish response, the savings banks can now report success.
In Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Lower Saxony, Westphalia-Lippe and Schleswig-Holstein, around 95 percent of customers agreed, as the associations there said. The Rhenish Savings Banks Association and those in Saar, Hesse-Thuringia and East Germany are according to their own statements at around 90 percent or more.
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The Hanseatische Sparkassenverband does not have any current figures, but was over 80 percent in late summer. Rhineland-Palatinate generally spoke of a “very high” level.
In many cases, not only customers were written to whose terms and conditions had changed in recent years. “As far as we know, most savings banks have finally agreed new conditions with all customers in order to have a uniform and legally secure basis for business relationships in the future,” said a spokesman for the German Savings Banks and Giro Association.
Customers who do not agree must expect terminations
A lack of consent could be due, among other things, to the fact that people have moved or died. There are also customers who deliberately do not agree to the terms and conditions. You have to reckon with layoffs, as the savings banks have repeatedly hinted at.
The Sparkasse Nuremberg, which has so far had an approval rate of around 95 percent, is already getting down to business. She has promised 10,000 customers a termination that will take effect at the end of December or the end of January. As before, the affected customers can agree to the ABGs and thus avoid termination, as a spokeswoman emphasized.
She points out that the Sparkasse has asked its customers for their consent in many different ways – several times by letter, via online banking, in the app, on account statements, at ATMs. In addition, it is not fair if a small proportion of customers pay the old, cheaper prices by refusing to give their consent. A termination is now only the ultima ratio.
More: The Germans save again