According to a survey, many bank customers have not yet asked for any money back following the Federal Court of Justice’s ruling on account fees three years ago. Only 110 out of a total of 1,025 respondents to a survey by the opinion research institute Innofact in March said that they had requested a refund of fees from their credit institution. According to the comparison platform Verivox, significantly more bank customers are likely to be entitled to this.

Between the beginning of 2018 and June 2021 alone, the current account of at least 40 percent of customers became more expensive, said Oliver Maier, Managing Director of Verivox Finanzvergleich GmbH. “We don’t know of a single bank that obtained customer consent for fee increases before the Karlsruhe judge’s ruling.”

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) decided on April 27, 2021 that credit institutions must obtain the consent of their customers when making changes to general terms and conditions (GTC). The clause according to which financial institutions can assume tacit consent if customers do not object to a change within two months puts customers at an unreasonable disadvantage. Bank customers can reclaim fees that institutions have charged without explicit consent.

For some bank customers the effort is too great – they are worried about account cancellations

According to the survey commissioned by Verivox, more than four out of ten (43 percent) bank customers do not know the ruling. So they didn’t even know that they might be entitled to a fee refund. Of those surveyed in March, 81 percent chose not to do so. A good 35 percent said they had no claim because there had been no fee increase in previous years.

For another quarter, the effort was too great. 19 percent said that the repayment was not worth it because the amounts were not large. 16 percent were unsure whether the ruling would also apply to them personally. Other reasons included fear of legal disputes (9 percent), unwillingness to put a strain on the business relationship with the bank (7 percent) and fear of an account being terminated (7 percent). Multiple entries were possible.

Up to which year those affected can claim fees back is still controversial. Consumer advocates are of the opinion that claims before 2018 are also worthy of repayment. In general, the issue continues to cause dissatisfaction, even if the number of complaints from bank customers to the financial regulator Bafin has fallen significantly due to their credit institution’s implementation of the ruling. Last year, the supervision counted 69 cases. In the year of the BGH ruling, 2021, there were a total of around 1,980 complaints.