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Deutsche Bank's Postbank outages prompt call for consumer protection law

FILE PHOTO: A Postbank sign is seen in Munich

By Tom Sims

FRANKFURT (Reuters) -Widespread outages affecting customers at Deutsche Bank's Postbank arm have prompted consumer rights campaigners to call for law to provide compensation.

A consumer protection group in the German state of Bavaria on Thursday urged politicians to enact a law, modelled on regulations overseeing airlines, that would compensate customers with lump-sum payments when banking services are interrupted.

Last year, glitches at Postbank resulted in customers complaining they were locked out of their accounts for weeks, resulting in the bank's regulator overseeing the cleanup and cuts in bonuses for some of Deutsche's top managers.

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"It is unacceptable that financial service providers should not have to fear any significant consequences due to massive disruptions caused by their own fault," said Marion Zinkeler, head of the Bavarian consumer protection agency.

The group said the existence of the kind of law that can require airlines to compensate flyers for delays or cancellations would serve to discipline banks.

Deutsche Bank, which has said that it has addressed most of the problems, declined to comment on the proposal. The bank has apologised to the public and said it would compensate clients when justified.

The regulator BaFin also declined to comment, and an association representing German banks did not respond to a request for comment.

A consumer group based in the state of Hesse, home of Deutsche Bank's Frankfurt headquarters, on Thursday organised an event to discuss the "chaos" at Postbank with politicians, consumer advocates and journalists.

A presenter from the group displayed complaints it had received from Postbank consumers.

One was from a woman who tried to close her deceased father's account in June of last year and had not heard from the bank in August. Another person said he had no funds to feed his children after being locked out for nearly a month.

Deutsche Bank was not invited to Thursday's event.

A Deutsche Bank spokesperson said the bank regretted not having had the opportunity to elaborate on the lender's progress in dealing issues.

(Reporting by Tom Sims, Editing by Rachel More, David Evans and Barbara Lewis)