We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Be careful when ordering a Deutsche Bahn Railpass from home!

NSW
Level Contributor
29 posts
101 reviews
Save Topic
Be careful when ordering a Deutsche Bahn Railpass from home!

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.

Frankfurt, Germany
Level Contributor
5,133 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Be careful when ordering a Deutsche Bahn Railpass from home!

oh dear ...

read your text again and discover your own mistake in the proceedings.

Inchicore, Dublin...
Level Contributor
1,059 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: Be careful when ordering a Deutsche Bahn Railpass from home!

Hi,

sorry, Quiltneedle, I don't understand what mistake he made. Honestly, I like the train, but especially in Germany it becomes worse and worse. Experiences like these are pure management mistakes that should not happen.

Holger

Frankfurt, Germany
Level Contributor
5,133 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Be careful when ordering a Deutsche Bahn Railpass from home!

Check the website, they don't accept German delivery addresses as this offer is strictly limited to non-Europeans and European who left Europe more than 6 months ago (passport check)

The usual case of "small print only applies for others, never for me"

Edited: 10 May 2014, 09:40
Inchicore, Dublin...
Level Contributor
1,059 posts
Save Reply
4. Re: Be careful when ordering a Deutsche Bahn Railpass from home!

...and it is totally impossible to DB to inform him that the given address cannot be used - yes certainly.

And in the 2nd case he didn't get his ticket because of the fact that surely nobody can expect from DB to send valuable items registered, as anybody else in the world.

On my last journey I wanted to go to Ulm and landed in Donauwoerth - I still haven't seen any money back.

And night trains I cannot seriously recommend to any visitor any more, because of reliability and cleanliness.

These are not things that might go wrong, these are management mistakes - but I think we go a bid off topic here.

Holger

Frankfurt, Germany
Level Contributor
5,133 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Be careful when ordering a Deutsche Bahn Railpass from home!

So DB is also responsible for passengers getting onto the wrong train or who did you end up in Donauwörth?

And night trains ... I wouldn't have recommended them 20 years ago and I don't do now.

Edited: 10 May 2014, 10:07
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
1,168 posts
8 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Be careful when ordering a Deutsche Bahn Railpass from home!

In the USA, you can buy the passes from sellers based in the USA, who will overnight them to your door.

Frankfurt, Germany
Level Contributor
5,133 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Be careful when ordering a Deutsche Bahn Railpass from home!

Btw. sending a ticket by registered mail to Australia, costs almost €50. I am sure the OP would then complain about the "rip off".

Germany
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
Level Contributor
37,577 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: Be careful when ordering a Deutsche Bahn Railpass from home!

> can expect from DB to send valuable items registered,

At least they should offer this option if shipment to abroad is requested. Even if this would mean an additional shipping fee of EUR 15 or so.

From a legal point of view a train ticket is no "item" (good) but a service. And under EU law only when shipping goods to (private) customers the risk is with the selling company.

> 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

Compulsory personalized train tickets are a political "no go" in Germany. Esp. for Deutsche Bahn which is still seen as a public company. Their last CEO lost his job over privacy issues (on their employees).

In the defense of DB one has to say

a) shipping fee is the same (EUR 3,50) no matter if to a domestic or an abroad address. Albeit just standard mail (not insured).

b) that DB does not exclude non-residents from some offers like many other railways do (e.g. SNCF, ÖBB, SBB on their discount cards).

Munich, Germany
Level Contributor
3,985 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Be careful when ordering a Deutsche Bahn Railpass from home!

Alright - I always thought these passes were a good deal, but if things are like that, I won't have any more regrets for not being able to get them. That's terrible!

Seattle area
Level Contributor
1,525 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Be careful when ordering a Deutsche Bahn Railpass from home!

You can buy them at larger train stations, such as Frankfurt Hbf or Flughafen, by showing your passport. I have used them often when I have long distance round trips and some other train travel when I compare point-to-point. btw I find the Sparpreise too restricting since they limit you to a specific train and time and must be puchssed too much in advance, allowing no flexibilitiy in planinng an itinerary. The German Pass is fully flexible for the days allowed, and a good value if you prefer 1st class travel.

I usually buy the German Pass or Combipass stateside. You can order them quite reliably in the USA from Rick Steves. www.ricksteves.com Though slightly more expensive, it is not much more than from DB by mail, which incurs an extra charge anyway, and worth the convenience of having them in hand before travel., Of course, I have no knowledge of this possiblity in Australia, but want to mention this for others who are reading this. No reason to have them sent to you from Germany and I have never done that.

Edited: 10 May 2014, 13:51