As the rules are quite difficult to understand and banks not so easy to deal with, the first thing to do if you have any problem or question is to contact a « association » specialized in consumers' rights, especially some trying to help the « usagers des banques » bank costumers. You'll find their contact on the net.
A few things to know :
Regarding the law, if you write a cheque or have a standing order but don't have enough money on your bank account (compte sans provision), your bank can refuse to pay it (rejeter un chèque ou un prélèvement).
But since 2001, your bank cannot do it without telling you about this problem. In theory, your bank should let you know about the situation so that you might pay funds into your account and avoid troubles.
But, some banks do not follow this procedure.
If you realize your bank refused to pay one of your cheques or standing orders without letting you know what they were about to do, write a « lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception » to the manager of your bank.
If after two or three weeks you still have no answer from your bank, you need to start another procedure and contact a « juge de proximité ».
To do this, do not hesitate to contact a « association des usagers de banque ». They can help you, tell you were to go and what to do.
Even for the letter you might need to write to the manager, contact them, they can show you a model and help you writing it.
Since May the 16th 2008, a « plafonnement des frais bancaires » maximum charge has been created regarding the « incidents » of payment.
If your bank refuses to pay a cheque or a standing order it cannot decide of the amount of the charges.
If it's a cheque :
For an amount less than 50 euros, your bank cannot charge you more than 30 euros.
For an amount more than 50 euros, your bank cannot charge you more than 50 euros.
If it's a standing order :
For an amount less than 20 euros, your bank cannot charge you more than the amount of the standing order.
For an amount more than 20 euros, your bank cannot charge you more than 20 euros.
Frais de lettre recommandée
If you have a cheque or standing order "refusé", your bank will send you a "lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception" to tell you what's going on, and how much you will be charged for this "incident".
This letter mentions the diffrerent "frais" and maybe "frais de lettre recommandée". But remember, your bank cannot add as many "frais" as it would like to. All the charges you have to pay are included in the amounts mentionned above. So if your bank "rejette" a cheque of 60 euros, it cannot charge you more than 50 euros and these 50 euros must include ALL their fees, even the "frais de lettre recommandée". Your bank cannot ADD other charges to this amount of 50 euros. It's a maximum charge.
If you have any problem, contact a "association" helping the "usagers de banques".
A few other advices
- Your chequebook must be free.
- Once a year, your bank sends you its « conditions tarifaires ».
Read this document carefully and check the charges and fees.
As a customer, you can refuse these charges if they are too high. In this case, within 2 months, send a « lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception » to your bank specifying you refuse these new « tarifs ».
If your bank doesn't answer or if you need some help with this letter, contact a « association d'usagers de banque ».