UFC-Que Choisir denounces banking incident fees

In a press release published on Tuesday June 7, consumer advocacy group UFC-Que Choisir calls on the government to regulate the charges levied by banks in the event of direct debit incidents.

Direct debit rejection fees, intervention fees and information letters

In the middle of the election period, just a few days before the legislative elections, the appeal by the consumer protection association UFC-Que Choisir could well have an impact on the campaign, which is already largely dominated by the issue of purchasing power.

In a press release published on June 7, UFC-Que Choisir " urges " the government "to put a stop to banks' excesses in terms of incident fees, particularly for rejected direct debits ".


According to the association, direct debit rejection fees would have earned banks up to 1.8 billion euros in 2020. Banks also charge fees when a direct debit is authorized despite insufficient funds, and sometimes add to the bill by sending an "information" letter.

Intervention fees are legally capped at 8 euros per transaction, and the average charge for an information letter is 10.70 euros. According to UFC-Que Choisir, one bank in four, " all members of the Banques Populaires - Caisse d'Epargne Group ", sends these letters. Finally, in the event of a direct debit rejection, a fee capped at 20 euros is systematically charged.

Much higher fees than in neighboring European countries

UFC-Que Choisir also warns about charges for rejecting duplicate direct debits. UFC-Que Choisir also warns of duplicate direct debit charges: " 20% of these collections involve overpayments to banks ", the association says.

Rejected direct debits are in fact presented a second time by creditors within a period of between 4 and 10 days, resulting in double charges if the account has not been funded since the last direct debit rejection. UFC-Que Choisir estimates that, in 2020, banks collected around 400 million euros in double charges alone.

Consumers can ask to be reimbursed for these double charges, but in practice, things are more complex.

" With the exception of La Banque Postale and BRED Banque Populaire, which automatically pass on the full amount of the surcharge, 90% of banks simply do not inform their customers of this right on their price brochures," deplores UFC-Que Choisir.

The association has calculated that direct debit rejection fees are 3 times higher in France than in Belgium, where they are charged at 6.90 euros per transaction versus 20 euros in France, 8 times higher than in Italy, where they are charged at 2.50 euros, and 17 times higher than in Germany, where they are limited to 1.20 euros per transaction.

According to UFC-Que Choisir, the average duration of a bank intervention for direct debit rejection is less than 1 minute 30, and banks make an 86% margin on these fees.

A call for greater control and transparency in bank incident fees

Since the Gilets Jaunes crisis, a scheme to cap bank incident fees has been introduced, but it only applies to customers considered to be in a financially fragile situation, notably those who have filed for overindebtedness or have been registered for more than 3 months in the Fichier central des chèques.

UFC-Que Choisir is asking banks to be more transparent, and is calling for bank incident fees to be regulated.

In detail, the association is calling on the government to " cap incident charges in line with the costs actually borne by banks ", to extend the 25-euro per month cap to all customers, whether or not they are in a situation of financial fragility, and to make it compulsory to reimburse the cost of rejecting a direct debit that has been debited twice.

According to the association, these various measures would " free up at least 1 billion euros for consumer budgets in a context of high inflation ".