I have travelled to Germany many times and have always bought a German Railpass from Deutsche Bahn. These are similar to a Eurail pass but only for use in the German rail network and they are only available to foreign travellers. You get a cheaper price on unlimited travel for 5, 7 or 10 days in a defined time period and they are quite a good deal. You can order them on the DB website or buy them at specific (not all) stations in Germany. They are issued as paper tickets which are then punched by the conductor every time you use them on the train. The reason for my post is that I want to warn people what occurs if there is a problem with your ticket so that you can consider if they are really worthwhile or whether you should buy single tickets.
When you book a normal eticket on the DB website it comes as a print at home ticket or you can download it to your phone. These tourist Railpasses, however, are only issued as a one off piece of paper that means everything. If the paper is not in your possession, you have wasted your money. The results of this system if things go wrong with delivery are very frustrating. Last year, while in Germany, I booked one of these passes online and specified it go to my address in Germany. As I was on the system as having booked things from Australia in the past, they disregarded my instructions and sent the ticket to my home in Australia. When this became evident, I went to the station and explained what had happened and requested that they cancel that ticket and reissue a new one. They refused saying that there is no way of cancelling a paper ticket and that if they gave me a new one, I might recover that ticket from Australia at a later date and use it 'for free' for more travel. My only option was to buy a new ticket from scratch. As these passes are generally between 170 and 300 euros I refused. In the end my ticket was sent back to me from Australia and I had to wait the 14 days for it to get back to Germany and delay all my travel plans until it arrived causing hotel bookings to be lost and functions to be missed.
This year, I booked my ticket worth 270 euro early (4 months before my trip) from Australia. Everything went well until the ticket didn't arrive four weeks after I had ordered it. On further emailing with DB, it was confirmed that my order and money had been received and that the ticket had been sent to the correct address,. The failure to arrive was obviously the postman's fault and not DB for sending expensive documents unregistered so they again refused to reissue me a new ticket. They suggested that I might be lying about the situation in order to score a second 'free' pass. Their only solution has been that I can spend another 270 euro on a new pass and then write a complaint letter with the new ticket after I have used it and returned home and they may consider a refund or not.
Bad customer service is one thing but these transaction involve larger amounts of money than the average train ticket and it is a ridiculous that there is no way of tracking or cancelling the ticket and reissuing a new one. The days of the paper ticket with the punchholes and no barcode or any other means of tracking should be over in a country like Germany but clearly that is not the case.
I therefore urge travellers considering these passes to think if you are really getting your money's worth in discounts before buying one and where possible purchasing it in country. The level of stress and financial loss that results when something goes wrong and there appears to be no contingency plan to deal with such situations makes me question whether it is worth any tourist's while.