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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Credit Agricole - the UOKiK's decision

< previous | next > 02.06.2017

Credit Agricole - the UOKiK's decision
  • Durable media is not only paper.
  • Changes to agreements may be notified also via internal e-banking system if it meets the legislative requirements.
  • Credit Agricole Bank Polska has undertaken to remedy the consequences of the challenged practices.

The proceedings against Credit Agricole Bank Polska were initiated in November 2015. The President of UOKiK analysed how the bank modified terms and conditions of various agreements (in particular in years 2013-2015), including fees and commissions related to personal accounts or credit cards.

The proceedings conducted by the UOKiK demonstrated that Credit Agricole Bank Polska made unilateral changes to the contractual terms and conditions although it had no legal basis to do so. Moreover, the UOKiK decided the bank's internal e-banking system did not have the characteristics of a durable medium at this moment, and it could not be the only channel used to notify consumers of planned changes to the agreements under way. The President of UOKiK was also concerned by the fact that the notifications of proposed changes to the agreement terms and conditions, addressed by the bank to its customers, did not include legal basis for and circumstances of the change. In such a situation, the consumer did not know if, for example, a change in the ATM cash withdrawal fee introduced by the bank was provided for in the service regulations.

Already in the course of proceedings, Credit Agricole Bank Polska proposed solutions to remedy the consequences of the challenged practices and compensate for losses suffered by customers. Among a dozen of banks which are subject to similar proceedings now, Credit Agricole is the first one to voluntarily commit itself to change the practice”, points out Marek Niechciał, President of UOKiK. The bank will offer its customers, via separate letter, to sign annexes to the existing agreements - at the bank’s branch. As a result, changes notified in years 2013-2015 will not be applicable to consumers and the bank will correct fees and commissions charged from the introduction of a specific change until the conclusion of the annex. In addition, consumers who have received a notice of modifications to the agreement terms and conditions will be entitled to withdraw cash from ATMs worldwide free of charge for one month. The bank will send detailed information on the decision and payment of compensation to the customers by mail. The UOKiK’s decision is published both on the UOKiK and Credit Agricole Bank Polska websites.

UOKiK actions

The UOKiK examines how banks notify customers of agreement amendments, including changes to fees and commissions.In their communications to customers, Banks not always provided information on the legal basis and actual circumstances enabling them to introduce these changes. This may suggest an attempt to transfer banking costs, e.g. so-called bank tax, to consumers”, says Piotr Adamczewski, director of the UOKiK Delegation in Bydgoszcz. There are still 16 proceedings under way in which the UOKiK questions the method of notifying consumers about changes to the payment service agreements by means of electronic banking system only. “We question the way of delivering information via e-banking systems at more than a dozen financial market entities. In our opinion, they do not meet the characteristics of a durable medium. This does not mean we want customers to be flooded with paper correspondence. We realise e-banking has a lot of advantages, but it does not change the fact that banks should adjust to existing regulations and start to develop internal systems that are compliant with them”, says Marek Niechciał, President of UOKiK.

According to the UOKiK, banks should deliver such information on a durable medium. The term “durable medium” shall encompass e.g. letters sent in a traditional form, information recorded on a USB drive as well as e-mails, provided they contain all the necessary data. This view is in line with the judgement of the Court of Justice of the European Union stating such systems may be considered as a durable medium, provided that, inter alia, the consumer will have future access to information sent by bank and will be able to reproduce it in an unchanged form. E-banking system may also constitute a durable medium if it meets the legislative requirements. Such a notification should also be properly delivered to the consumer. He or she should receive a separate information (e.g. text message) about proposed changes to the agreement terms and conditions, indicating the details could be found in the electronic banking system.

As a result of conducted proceedings, the UOKiK may conclude the practice was applied, impose a fine in the amount of up to 10% of the bank’s turnover, and issue an order to remedy the ongoing consequences of the infringement. The undertaking may also commit itself to voluntarily correct the practices questioned by the UOKiK and remedy their consequences.

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa
Phone: +48 695 902 088
Email: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]

Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

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