Bank Fees Dispute Lands in Court

Consumer watchdogs are going after banks for cash withdrawal fees. Photo source: dpa

The dispute over higher bank fees is boiling over. The office for consumer affairs in Saxony has sued a Berlin credit union for breaking transparency laws. “The institute has charged higher fees, for example, for cash payments with credit cards at its own ATM, without notifying its customers that they have a right to cancel cost-free,” Kay Görner told Handelsblatt. Depending on how this first case goes, three other banks may soon be accused of similar infractions. The consumer center is one of five financial market monitors and specializes in banking services and consumer loans.

“These days, we are looking more closely at how things are developing with fees at banks,” Mr. Görner said. The European Central Bank’s low-interest rate policy over the last several years has led many banks to turn to fees to make ends meet.

The banks were criticized when it became apparent that many were now charging fees for cash withdrawals at ATMs. According to the findings of the finance website Biallo, 40 savings banks, known as Sparkassen, and around 150 credit unions, known as Volksbanken, are now charging fees for certain account types. However, the banks are obliged to inform their customers two months in advance about the charge increases.

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