Complaints relating to savings books are now rarely submitted to the Ombudsman. These banking products, which used to be very widespread, have practically disappeared and are therefore hardly a cause for disputes anymore. In the rare cases in which an old savings booklet with a credit balance appears for which the bank can no longer find a corresponding credit balance in its books, the question regularly arises as to whether the holder or the listed client or his legal successor is entitled to the stated credit balance and any accrued interest. The reasons for the absence of the credit balance can be manifold. It may have been paid out without presentation of the booklet, which is often permitted by the applicable booklet regulations. Or the booklet may have been declared void because it could not be found. The relevant facts can often no longer be reliably determined due to the time that has passed, as the 10-year retention period for business records has usually already expired and therefore detailed evidence is no longer available.
In addition, relatively complex legal questions regularly arise that cannot be clarified in a binding manner within the framework of an ombudsman procedure. Finally, from the point of view of the clients concerned, savings books are often associated with emotions, as they are linked to relationships with close persons or since the amounts were saved in economically difficult times. For these reasons, the Ombudsman tries to resolve the few complaints submitted to him in connection with savings books with as pragmatic an approach as possible.
In the case at hand, the bank was able to plausibly demonstrate, after researching its systems and accounting, that the savings booklet had been replaced by a booklet with the same number after the last entry in 1981, as further movements were later found in the cash book under this number. The number of the booklet submitted was slightly adjusted in 1984 due to a change in the system. The booklet with the adjusted number was finally converted into another savings booklet in 1997. According to the bank, this last booklet for which it could provide account statements had been balanced on behalf of the client in 2014. The bank was also able to produce a copy of the balancing order.
However, the question of why charges due to an alleged lack of contact were made to this booklet, as shown on the account statements, could no longer be clarified. This should probably not have happened, because the client could easily have been contacted at the address listed on the account statements. The bank was therefore prepared to refund these fees in the amount of CHF 255.10 to the client in exchange for the handover of the savings book. The bank refused to make any further concessions, as it was highly probable that the client had already disposed of the credit balance shown in the savings book.
The Ombudsman found the bank’s explanations convincing and recommended that the client accept the proposed solution. The client was now able to accept the bank’s amended explanations and gave his consent to the proposed solution.