The arbitration procedure of the private Bausparkassen – a fair deal for customers

The private Bausparkassen have always made great efforts to provide their customers with the best possible service.

However, differences of opinion between a customer and a Bausparkasse may occur. If such differences cannot be resolved directly between the Bausparkasse and its customer, the customer may initiate an arbitration procedure with the Ombudsman Office of the private Bausparkassen. This settlement procedure has been established in order to find out-of-court solutions for legal disputes.

The procedure can therefore only be initiated if a dispute between you and your private Bausparkasse cannot be resolved through direct contact between you and the Bausparkasse concerned. Here is a list of all private Bausparkassen in Germany.

In case you have a dispute with one of these Bausparkassen and your complaint against this Bausparkasse cannot be resolved, you may file a complaint with the Ombudsman Office.

For this purpose please use our complaint form or formulate your complaint individually. Please be advised that we can only process complaints which have been transmitted to us in the contract language or in the language the Bausparkasse has used to communicate with you.

When formulating your complaint, please include the name of the Bausparkasse and where applicable the account number of the Bauspar or loan contract which is the subject of your complaint.

Please describe the underlying facts of your dispute. Within your presentation you should also describe in detail your complaint against the Bausparkasse and what exactly your desired outcome would be (for example: withdrawal of the contract concluded, refund of fees, payment of bonus interests, acceptance of extra savings, compensation, etc.). Please also state how the Bausparkasse has responded to your request.

Along with your complaint please include copies of the relevant supporting documents, such as a copy of the Bauspar or loan contract, as well as the applicable General Contract Conditions (General Bauspar conditions and loan terms). Please also include copies of any documents or correspondence prior to the contract and a copy of the preceding mail correspondence in this matter with the Bausparkasse. In many cases copies of recent statements of your Bauspar account can also be helpful.

Please send your signed complaint and the required documentation by mail to the
Association of Private Bausparkassen
Customer Complaints System
Postfach 30 30 79
10730 Berlin
Germany

Please note that there are some conditions that hinder the initiation of the arbitration procedure. Thus, the process cannot take place if

  • a court has already dealt with the issue or if you start a court procedure during the arbitration proceedings,
  • an arbitration procedure in the same matter has already has been initiated,
  • the dispute has been solved by an out-of-court settlement,
  • a request for financial legal aid before a court has been already rejected due to an obviously unfounded claim,
  • you have already filed a criminal complaint or intend to do so,
  • your claim at the time of initiating is already time-barred and the Bausparkasse relies on the statute of limitations,
  • the decision of the arbitrator would have to deal with an undecided legal question which has yet to be decided by the Supreme Court and if this decision would be a decision by principle,
  • the clarification of the facts requires an inquiry, for example by questioning witnesses or a party of this dispute, so the necessary evidence cannot be provided solely by the production of documents.

In addition, it should be pointed out that within the arbitration procedure no legal advice – either by the Ombudsman Office or by the arbitrator himself – can be granted. No legal opinion can be asked for since the purpose of the arbitration procedure is not to prepare or to serve a court procedure.

Please check the Rules of Procedure in order to find out how the process runs in detail. In any case, you will receive a letter confirming the acknowledgment of your complaint. You will also be informed about the further course of the proceedings. As soon as the Ombudsman Office has received all necessary documents, your complaint will be forwarded to the affected Bausparkasse, which then has to answer within four weeks.

If the Bausparkasse does not fulfill the demand of your complaint, the Ombudsman will decide the case after having evaluated the exchange of views between both parties. The decision of the arbitrator will be made on the basis of the legal provisions taking into account considerations of equity. It will contain a statement of reasons and will be sent directly to you by the arbitrator. The submission of the decision of the arbitrator is the final step of the arbitration procedure.

The decision of the arbitrator is binding for the Bausparkasse if the dispute between the Bausparkasse and the customer does not exceed an amount of 5,000 Euros. However, this does not apply to you as a customer. If you do not agree with the decision of the arbitrator, you may pursue your dispute in court. The Bausparkasse has the opportunity to start a procedure at the ordinary courts only if the amount in dispute is higher than 5,000 Euros.

For any questions concerning the procedure please contact the Ombudsman Office at the
Association of Private Bausparkassen
Customer Complaints System
Postfach 30 30 79
10730 Berlin
Germany
Phone: +49 30 59 00 91 500
Telefax: +49 30 59 00 91 501
E-mail: www.info@schlichtungsstelle-bausparen.de

The ombudsman office of the Private Bausparkassen is also a member of FIN-NET. FIN-NET is a financial dispute resolution network of national Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) schemes in the European Economic Area countries (the European Union Member States plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) that are responsible for handling disputes between consumers and financial services providers, i.e. banks, insurance companies, investment funds, investment intermediaries and others.

Within FIN-NET, the schemes cooperate to provide consumers with an easy access to out-of-court complaint procedures in cross-border cases. If a consumer in one country has a dispute with a financial services provider from another country, FIN-NET members will put the consumer in touch with the relevant ADR scheme and provide the necessary information about it. The relevant ADR scheme would be situated in the country in which the service provider has its branch. The network works in the following way: the consumer can contact an ADR in his/her home country. The home country ADR establishes which ADR is competent and informs the consumer. The home country ADR either transfers the case to the competent ADR or asks consumers to do that. It is the competent ADR from the country of the service provider which carries out the investigation and issues a decision/recommendation.

For more information about FIN-NET please click here.