German savings banks are currently sending out thousands of cancellations. If you do not agree to an increase in fees, the financial institutions want to terminate your account. What those affected can still do and why there is reason for hope.

More and more banks and savings banks want to terminate their existing customers. The reason for this is the failure to approve fee increases. Since a judgment in spring 2021, banks have had to obtain the consent of affected customers. However, many consumers do not grant this.

Around 95 percent of customers at Sparkasse Köln Bonn have now given their approval. Nevertheless, it is still missing in around 38,000 cases. As the “tagesschau” reports, corresponding accounts have now been terminated. However, Sparkasse KölnBonn considers it to be “implied consent” if the account continues to be used after the notice period has expired.

In autumn 2022, Sparda-Bank Hannover was prohibited from proceeding in which the direct use of the account was taken as consent. In this case, however, no notice of termination was given beforehand. The two approaches are therefore different. It is therefore not yet possible to conclusively assess whether the savings bank is acting in a legally correct manner.

In principle, customers have several options in the event of termination, as the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” writes: As a rule, it should still be possible to agree to the new terms and conditions, since the banks have no interest in losing customers. And: “There is an effective contract between the financial institution and the customer, namely under the last expressly agreed conditions,” quotes the newspaper David Bode, lawyer at the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations. In principle, both parties must agree to a contract change.

Anyone who does not want to sign the new conditions can get help from the consumer advice centers. So far it has not been finally clarified whether it is a “reasonable reason” to terminate customers because of the lack of consent. However, due to the public service mandate of the savings banks, this must be the case.

In principle, however, consumers should consider changing banks in such a case anyway. Josefine Lietzau from the online portal “Finanztip” recommends: “If you want something inexpensive, you usually end up with a direct bank. We currently recommend the DKB, Consorsbank, Comdirect and ING.” The advantage is the lower costs. However, the banks have no branches where personal advice is offered.

For the savings banks themselves, the whole thing should primarily be a huge image disaster. The dismissed are often elderly and people who speak bad German. You have to take that into account. Banking associations are now pushing for a change in the law that will no longer require explicit approval of changes to the general terms and conditions.

Surf tip: Change bank – Sparkasse: Cancel account – this is how it works

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