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Not sure if this is the right SE to ask this question. If somebody finds it inappropriate please point it out/move it to the right SE.

So I currently live in Germany and I have a bank account (Sperrkonto for international students) with Deutsche Bank. This is the first time I tried to buy something on amazon.de with this bank account (previous online shoppings in Germany were all carried out with my previous credit card via PayPal).

Everything seemed to be going well and I received the item yesterday. However, today I received an email from Amazon. Apparently, for some unknown reason („kein Grund angegeben"), my bank somehow rejected the billing from Amazon and returned the money to my own account. I queried my account on DB's website immediately and this is indeed the case, as can be shown by the screenshot about my personal account below:

screenshot

In the email Amazon demanded that I transfer the EUR 189.99 manually, plus EUR 3.00 for "Rücklastschriftentgelts".

Guten Tag,

wie vereinbart haben wir versucht den Betrag für Ihre Bestellung bei Amazon.de von Ihrem Konto abzubuchen. Die Bezahlung dieser Bestellung konnte nicht abgeschlossen werden. 

Wir fordern Sie hiermit höflich auf, den ausstehenden Betrag in Höhe von EUR 192.99 bis spätestens 26.01.2017 (Zahlungseingangsdatum) unter Angabe des Verwendungszwecks 29574032592945 auf folgendes Konto zu überweisen:

Empfänger           Amazon EU S.à.r.l.
Kreditinstitut      HSBC Trinkaus und Burkhardt
IBAN                DE93300308800013441006
SWIFT/BIC           TUBDDEDDXXX
Verwendungszweck    (redacted)

Der Betrag setzt sich wie folgt zusammen:
Bestellnummer            Betrag              Rücklastschriftsgrund                   
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(redacted)      EUR 189.99          Unbekannt                               
Rücklastschriftentgelt   EUR 3.00                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gesamtbetrag             EUR 192.99              

Bestellte Artikel:
(redacted),Kindle Voyage eReader, 15,2 cm (6 Zoll) hochauflösendes Display (300 ppi) mit integriertem intelligenten Frontlicht, PagePress-Sensoren, WLAN

Geben Sie bitte ausschließlich (redacted) als Verwendungszweck an. Nur so können wir Ihre Zahlung eindeutig zuordnen. 

Sollten Sie den Betrag inzwischen überwiesen haben, betrachten Sie dieses Schreiben bitte als gegenstandslos.

Hinweis:
Sie können diese Bestellung/en jederzeit über "Mein Konto" auf der Website (http://www.amazon.de/) einsehen.

Wir freuen uns auf Ihren nächsten Besuch!
Amazon.de

Tel Deutschland         0800 1875611 (kostenfreie Rufnummer)
Tel Österreich          0800 298392 (kostenfreie Rufnummer)
Email                   lastschriftservice@amazon.de
Servicezeiten           Montag  - Freitag       08:00 bis 19:30
                        Samstag - Sonntag       10:00 bis 16:00

And then, after I emailed back asking why they can't just charge me again and why do I need to pay the EUR 3.00 extra even though I apparently did nothing wrong at all, this is the reply I got:

Nachricht vom Kundenservice Guten Tag,

wir haben versucht, für die Bestellung (redacted) den Rechnungsbetrag von EUR 189,99 von Ihrem Bankkonto abzubuchen. Ihre Bank hat jedoch den Einzug zurückgegeben und uns die folgende Begründung mitgeteilt: „kein Grund angegeben“.

Für den Fall, dass Sie den genauen Grund für das Scheitern der Abbuchung wissen möchten, setzen Sie sich bitte mit Ihrer Hausbank in Verbindung. Nur diese kann Ihnen genau mitteilen, warum sie die Abbuchung hat scheitern lassen.

Wir bitten Sie, den ausstehenden Betrag von EUR 192,99 - einschließlich des Rücklastschriftentgelts von EUR 3,00 - auf unser Konto zu überweisen.

Empfänger: Amazon Payments Europe S.C.A.

Kreditinstitut: HSBC Trinkaus & Burkhardt

IBAN: DE87300308801908262006

BIC: TUBDDEDDXXX

Bitte geben Sie bei Ihrer Überweisung ausschließlich den Verwendungszweck an. Nur so können wir Ihre Zahlung eindeutig zuordnen.

Ich hoffe, ich konnte Ihnen weiterhelfen.

This has made me quite upset, not because of only EUR 3.00, which is quite a small amount, but the nature of this episode which just seems to have come out of nowhere. I just normally added my bank account to Amazon and paid, and received the goods, yet this occurred. It makes me wonder whether I should trust Deutsche Bank as a payment method when shopping here after all.

What could be the cause of this issue? Is there anything I can pay attention/improve to in order to avoid similar misfortunes in the future (e.g. is there an option for transaction limit or something)? Could this have anything to do with the nature of my Sperrkonto account besides the monthly withdrawal limit, which I'm quite sure I didn't surpass (if there are, they were never made explicit to me)? Is Deutsche Bank savings account reliable to use as an online payment method, or is it better for me to just use PayPal all the time from now on?

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    Und was hat die Bank Ihnen gesagt, als Antwort auf Ihre Anfrage? Deutsche Bank is completely reliable. If, indeed, you put in a saving account number, not checking, and not one enabled for electronic transmissions, that may be the issue. Fragen Sie die Bank. – Giorgio Jan 12 '17 at 13:52
  • @Dorothy Well the thing is that apparently the other transaction with Amazon, the one with EUR 59,99, seemed to not be rejected at all. Also I was able to add this account to PayPal so I don't think I particularly need a checking account for online transaction now. I have sent an enquiry via their website but have received no reply yet. What upset me is that apparently I cannot expect something that seemed to go totally well, until 2 days after I receive the goods, I am suddenly told that the transaction failed and I'll have to manually pay again, with a "fine". That makes no sense. – xji Jan 12 '17 at 14:29
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    I believe this question is on-topic on Personal Finance & Money, as it is about personal payment system and personal relations to banks. – gerrit Jan 12 '17 at 14:33
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    Amazon has informed OP of their IBAN and BIC/SWIFT so there is no need to waste money on Paypal. I'm sure that from the current account (not the savings account) it is possible to make a bank transfer through internet banking. Savings accounts are not set up for direct debit, which is why it failed. Both Amazon and Deutsche Bank are reliable companies. – gerrit Jan 12 '17 at 14:51
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    So what did the bank say? – Kyralessa Jan 24 '17 at 20:50
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Some details:

Amazon charged you 189€. Your bank refused that for reasons they did not share with Amazon. If that happens (somebody trying to charge you and your bank refusing for whatever reason) the bank will charge the company a fee. The 3€ are the fee the bank charged Amazon because they tried to get money from an account where this was not possible. Amazon is now charging you those 3€ to break even. The 3€ charge is not a fee from Amazon. Best case for them is they will come out at zero.

Now why did your bank refuse to pay? Well, it did not share the reason with Amazon so we cannot know. One possible reason is you simply did not have the 189€ inside your current credit limit.

I noticed you have a Sperrkonto (literally translated a "locked account"). The money on this account is locked so Germany has proof that you have enough money for your stay. You cannot freely spend this money. You have a monthly allowance so that you have enough money for the duration of your whole stay here. If your account holds more money than you need by law, you can spend this amount over the legal limit freely.

My guess is that you thought you could spend all of that money at any time. But you get a monthly allowance at the first of each month. And most likely, the 189€ was more than what was left of your monthly allowance.

  • Looks like Germany is pretty strict... I had no "locked account" of this sort in the US or Japan. – fkraiem Jan 14 '17 at 8:23
  • Apparently I know the limit of a Sperrkonto, and I'm pretty sure I haven't spent over it yet, unless for some reason they're not starting the count from the first of a month but some other date, which would be weird. But anyways, if that amount was something caused by the bank, then I can understand better why amazon would mandatorily want it back. – xji Jan 14 '17 at 8:58
  • @JIXiang Well, it was just a guess. The bank refused and gave no reason, so you will need to ask them. Generally speaking, Deutsche Bank is a very reliable bank. – nvoigt Jan 14 '17 at 8:58
  • Now I think maybe it's indeed related to the limits on the student account, but probably I misunderstood how the limits work exactly. It's not really that it has an exact "monthly allowance", but more that the remaining amount cannot be lower than a certain value, counted by how many months remaining there are. So in my case, I didn't spend much money when the account was first activated, but I had some pretty heavy expenditure in December (which was certainly more than total/12), which drained a lot of money. Therefore, in January, DB decided that the amount cannot get much lower still. – xji Jan 19 '17 at 22:28
  • @JIXiang The monthly allowance is based on the minimum you legally need each month. You probably had more than (legal minimum * 12) in your account. The amount above can be used freely at any time. So I guess you had more than the minimum and spend it. So now you are down to the amount that is locked. – nvoigt Jan 20 '17 at 8:09
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You simply cannot use savings accounts for electronic transfers. It is not a service offered.
As this was your failure, you will have to rectify it, either by paying the 3 Euro fee, or in another way.

  • I'm not that sure if it's because I used my "savings account" or whatnot. I think I just followed the instructions by amazon to add my account without any issue. Also, if it indeed cannot be used for transfer, then why was the EUR 59,99 payment successful? I still haven't wrapped my head around it... – xji Jan 13 '17 at 13:41
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    Note that the OP has a "Sperrkonto". At first, I mistook this a typo for "Sparkonto" (savings account), but it probably isn't: Sperrkonten do exist. – bers Jan 13 '17 at 17:48
  • I'd like to note that this is not a useful answer. "Sperrkonto" is not "Sparkonto" and you didn't contribute anything helpful in your misleading answer. In fact you completely misread the question. – xji May 4 at 20:34
  • @xji , when I answered the question, it was about a spar konto. It was edited to 'sperrkonto' a day later. I am not in the habit to go daily back to all my answers and check if the question was edited to no longer match the answer, so yes, it seems now off target. Don't blame me for that; OP is not supposed to modify his qeustin significantly after he got answers already. – Aganju May 4 at 20:49
  • @Aganju lol that's just objectively false. I just checked version history and the very first version on Jan 12 2017 says "Sperrkonto". Since the two words are very similar, it's possible that you misread it. Anyways the point stands that this answer is not helpful and I just wanted to point it out, and the second paragraph probably gratuitous. – xji May 5 at 1:52

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