Bank customers are complaining more and more often

DFinancial regulator Baffin is registering more and more complaints about banks and financial institutions. The number of complaints rose by a fifth to 15,000 in 2022, according to Bafin surveys available to Reuters.

The most common consumer complaints were account suspensions or closures, card issues, and civil legal issues. Consumer advocates are also reporting an increase in inquiries and uncertainty among customers, for example, due to the turbulence surrounding major Swiss bank Credit Suisse.

Trouble in mass business

The German banking industry, which represents the interests of local financial institutions, sees no loss of confidence even after the latest banking turmoil. “The German banking market is extremely stable and solid,” explains a spokesperson when asked. “As in any industry where services are provided on a large scale, there are times when there are differences of opinion between the customer and the bank.” From 2021, the number of complaints is decreasing.

“The fact that consumers are turning to us more and more and looking for our advice is proof enough that they don’t fully trust the institutions,” says Nils Nauhauser, banking and senior care expert at the Stuttgart Consumer Center. . His colleagues in other federal lands have won lawsuits against unilateral interest rate adjustments in premium savings contracts, unclear promises of investment stability, or changes to terms without the client’s express consent.

The decision of the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) from April 2021, according to which the account fee cannot be increased without the express consent of the customer, is a thorn in the side of financial institutions. Obtaining the consent of more than 110 million account holders in Germany is a huge burden for financial institutions, both financially and bureaucratically, says an expert from the German industry association. Before the decision of the BGH, it was sufficient to inform the customer of future changes to the terms and conditions, and if he did not object, they were considered accepted.

According to a survey by the consulting firm EY, 31 percent of Germans have little or no trust in the financial sector. The crisis of confidence is also related to the fact that the industry has repeatedly adjusted conditions in its favor, says Sascha Straub, head of financial affairs at the Bavarian Consumer Advisory Center.

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