Fidor bank started charging fees without clear communication - allowed?

8 posts in this topic

Hi all!

Almost 2 years ago I started using one of those free Fidor online bank accounts, to be able to pay for a monthly subscription in Germany. Then the subscription ended last May, after which I transferred the remaining funds from Fidor back to my regular bank account; never logged in again because I had no reason to and there was no money left in the account anyway. Fast forward a few months, recently I logged in to see about terminating the account as I have no use for it anymore, and I discovered that it is actually in the negative now - apparently they started charging monthly fees since November, but the only way this was communicated was through the message functionality inside the account. No email was sent my way, no letter, nothing whatsoever. Is this allowed? Shouldn't they have reached out to users more explicitly to inform them of this change?

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Wow. Being Dutch, I would've thought that crossing that one border to the east wouldn't make such a huge difference in those things... here in the Netherlands we tend to feel that many things in Germany are quite well organized. But I guess consumer protection is not one of them, then. Thanks for the info!

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Contact the Verbraucherzentrale.  i would imagine the 'negative' on the account is more than a mere few euros.  If Fidor sent you an internal email, their system should notify you through your registered email of the internal one.  If that didn't happen, their system is wrong and the Verbraucherzentrale might be able to assist.  Banks have to follow certain guidelines and if that is not occuring they need to be held accountable.

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@Juupke What did Fidor say about this?  Did they say they had sent emails?  Are you sure you did not miss anything?  The email itself does not actually have to say what the changes to an account are, just alert you to the fact that they have changed and you should log in a look.  

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@BayrischDude That's a good one, hadn't thought of that option yet. I just checked their website to see if by any chance I could already find something about this, but no. (I do see that a year ago they did get an official warning because of inadmissible general terms and conditions and disproportionately high reminder fees.) Fortunately the negative amount is not much yet, it's only about 10 Euros, but it's sort of a matter of principle - this should not be ok, and I'm pretty sure that from a legal perspective it isn't indeed.

 

@snowingagain On 13 December they sent me an email warning me that the account was negative; I saw this email on 16 December and immediately replied that the new fees (leading to the negative amount) had never been explicitly communicated to me, and that I did not agree with them and as such immediately wanted to close my account. Then more than a month of nothing, until they replied to my email on 17 January stating that they could terminate the account but that I would have to pay the fees and if I don't before the end of the month, another month's fee (5 Euros) will be taken out as according to their AGB (which has obviously been changed since I opened the account since back then there were no fees). No mention of my complaint of lacking communication about the new fees.

I double checked my mailbox, and while I did get a couple of emails from them about other stuff (transaction times over the holidays and such) there is nothing in any way pointing to the new fees, not directly in the email but also not indirectly by referring to any new message in the internal message system.

 

I did find many recent similar complaints on Trustpilot, and there one of Fidor's replies was:

'We are sorry none of our information were noticed by you. Please be sure that Fidor will always work within german law, which clearly asks for information to all customers before launching new T&C. 

As written in these, we comunicate digial so we provided the information to the e-box which you are obligated to check regularly. Some Mailings to remind you were sent as well, even the press like Handelsblatt worte about new prices.'

 

These reminder mailings were never sent to me, and from the looks of it on Trustpilot, also not to many other users. So I will indeed try contacting the Verbraucherzentrale, see what they have to say about this. Thanks for your advice! :) 

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I got this e-mail on 28 August:

------------------------------

Hallo ndrs,

wir möchten dich heute über die Änderung unserer Allgemeinen Geschäftsbedingungen und unseres Preis- und Leistungsverzeichnisses ab dem 1. November 2019 informieren. Um dir weiterhin innovative und außergewöhnliche Produkte anbieten zu können, werden wir unser Preismodell weiterentwickeln.

Dies betrifft u.a. den Preis

    deines Fidor Smart Girokontos (Einführung eines monatlichen Kontoentgelts)
    deiner Fidor Debit Mastercard® bzw. Fidor SmartCard,
    des Auslandszahlungsverkehrs in Fremdwährung und
    deines Dispositionskredits.

Zudem haben wir das bisherige Bonusmodell zugunsten eines Aktivitätsbonus verändert. Künftig profitierst du von einem Aktivitätsbonus, wenn du dein Fidor Smart Girokonto für mehr als 10 Transaktionen im Monat nutzt. Dann bekommst du von uns einen Aktivitätsbonus in Höhe von 5 €*. Diese Transaktionen kannst du z.B. mit Apple Pay oder Fidor Pay erreichen. Das Konto ist für dich auch weiterhin kostenfrei, wenn du einen aktiven Fidor Ratenkredit, einen Fidor Sparbrief, einen Fidor Kapitalbrief oder Edelmetalle hast.

Weitere Informationen zu den Preisveränderungen, dem Aktivitätsbonus und unseren geänderten Allgemeinen Geschäftsbedingungen findest du auf fidor.de/girokonto.

Die neuen Allgemeinen Geschäftsbedingungen kannst du hier nachlesen. Das neue Preis- und Leistungsverzeichnis kannst du hier einsehen.

Die angezeigten Änderungen am 28. August 2019 sollen für dich zum 1. November 2019 in Kraft treten. Wie mit dir in den bereits bestehenden Allgemeinen Geschäftsbedingungen vereinbart, gilt deine Zustimmung zu den Änderungen als erteilt, wenn du uns deine Ablehnung nicht vor dem 1. November 2019 anzeigst. Der Widerspruch ist zu richten an Fidor Bank AG, Sandstr. 33, 80335 München oder per E-Mail an info@fidor.de oder per Fax an +49 89 189 085 199.

Wir möchten dich als Kunden nicht verlieren, müssen dich aber auf dein Recht zur fristlosen und kostenfreien Kündigung des von den Änderungen betroffenen Vertrags hinweisen.

Um eine optimale Kundenbetreuung anbieten zu können, sind wir auf eine einheitliche vertragliche Grundlage unserer Kunden angewiesen. Daher können wir das Vertragsverhältnis nur auf Grundlage der neuen Allgemeinen Geschäftsbedingungen fortführen. Beachte bitte: Im Fall deines Widerspruchs, würden wir unsere Geschäftsbeziehung ordentlich mit einer Frist von zwei Monaten kündigen.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Deine Fidor Bank

 

* Ausgenommen von einer möglichen Bonuszahlung sind Girokonten mit einer aktiven Pfändung, Pfändungsschutzkonten (sog. P-Konten), Basiskonten oder Insolvenzen.

-----------------------------------

I had also opened this account for specific purposes and because it was free. Now I have to use it for 11 monthly transactions and I had to change the physical card to a virtual one (still works with Apple Pay) to keep it free.

I will probably also close it soon; you don't really need a German account any more for direct debits.

 

 

 

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That's interesting, so some people really did receive the emails... well at least they didn't entirely make that part up. I truly never received that email though.

It does seem like they gave in to my complaining however; I tried logging in to my account, figuring I'd just pay the fees and get the account closed, to just get it over with, and now I find I can no longer log in. (I am 100% sure that I'm using the proper password, because I use a secure password manager, and a hack is most unlikely since I use a separate email address for this account that I use for basically nothing else). Also when I try to request a new password, I don't get any email. So it actually looks like they went along with my request for account closure regardless of the fees they felt I still owed. I'm going to keep an eye on my email, just in case, but I'm fairly hopeful that I won't hear from them anymore. An interesting and unexpected development indeed!

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