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Toll Fine

Thought I'd help start the Austrian board off right and discuss toll fines. I am completely to blame for getting one (we were driving to the Eagle's Nest in Germany and took the Autobahn through Austria for around 5-8 miles and stupidly did not get a vignette).
So I'm being a responsible person now and want to pay the fine. I sent ASFINAG an email asking if there was a way to pay the fine via credit card but they do not have that option. The only option they have is payment via bank transfer. I tried to pay the fine via my bank and Western Union and both said that they do not transfer to companies, only to individuals. Also, there is not a place on the form to put the fine invoice number.
So, that all being said, if you have received a fine after you have returned to the US (or Canada), how did you pay it?
Thanks in advance!
Ann (hangs head in shame for not heeding the warnings to get a vignette and now serves as a warning to others) :)

Posted by
12040 posts

Unfortunately, bank transfer is the practically the only method (but see below...). It seems, though, that your bank representative either doesn't know what they're talking about, or they have some rather strange business practices. The fine should contain a specific account number in IBAN format to which you wire the money, along with the receiving bank name and address. I don't understand why "individual" vs. "company" should matter, the money still goes to a specific account. Most wire transfers also allow you include a brief message, and this is usually where you can annotate the invoice number. If your bank still insists they can't handle this relatively common type of transaction, try a wiring service (I can't believe that Western Union couldn't handle this payment either).

One final option... if you know someone you trust in the US military stationed in Europe, I believe the on-post banks have a system set up where, for a fee, you can pay traffic fines at the desk without an electronic transfer. The bank handles the details.

Posted by
6542 posts

There are online international payment systems that can charge your credit card and deposit the funds in Euros into any European checking account. You'll need the routing numbers, etc.

And they're much less expensive than your local bank will charge for the same service--maybe $30.

Posted by
49 posts

Thanks for the info. I'll go to a different Western Union and see if they can figure it out. My bank seems very clueless.

Posted by
17646 posts

People in Germany use something called an Überweissung. A company sends you a slip of paper with their bank number and account number, and the amount on it. You take it to your bank and they transfer the money from your account to the company's account. Sort of a reverse check. I've asked banks over here about it, and they've never heard of it.

I've been warning about not driving in Germany for years. You can get from Germany to Berchtesgaden without driving. This is just one of the many pitfalls. You didn't heed my warning. Let this be a warning to others.

Posted by
12040 posts

...and yet, somehow millions of people who have the adacity to ignore that warning manage to drive in Germany without disasterous results. And really... it's only a traffic fine.

Posted by
17646 posts

"it's only a traffic fine"

According to her, the (much bigger) problem is how to pay it, and how much extra it will be by the time she finds out how to pay it.

Toll fines, speed cameras, Limited Travel Zones, how to pay for them, scratched or dented fenders, CC companies denying coverage on a technicality, having to deal with rental companies across the ocean in a foreign language about damages, where to find parking, will the unattended gas station take my credit card?, will the rental car have GPS (in English)?, etc. Why bother? Avoid the problems. Unlike the US, public transportation in Germany is sooo good. Use it whenever possible.

Posted by
12040 posts

"Limited Travel Zones" They don't exist in Germany or Austria (unless you want to drive a tractor or Trabi into a city).

"having to deal with rental companies across the ocean in a foreign language about damages," Translated into English, or if not, there's ALWAYS an English-speaking representative available.

"where to find parking," Follow the prominent signs with the big white and blue
P on them that are in every town and city... and in the cities, they'll even tell you how many free spaces remain.

"will the unattended gas station take my credit card?" These don't exist in Germany or Austria, and I've seen exactly one petrol station in all of Germany that even offered pay-at-the-pump.

"will the rental car have GPS (in English)?" I've never seen a GPS that didn't have an English option.

How about this? Trains delayed, so you miss your connection on the ICE you needed to take to make a meeting on time... having to cancel a hotel or restaurant reservation because your train has been sitting motionless at the Ingolstadt Hauptbahnhof for an hour... having to catch and switch to three regional trains for a total trip duration of three hours, for what could have been reached in a car in less than one... traveling in sealed ICE when the air conditioner is not working, with temperatures above 35° C... having to sit near a particularly loud family with kids barely under control while you're tyring to do work or just relex... Yes, all these things have happened to me. But I still take the train sometimes because reasonable adults can make informed choices on which option makes more sense for them in their given situation, and shouldn't have to endure patronizing comments like "You didn't heed my warning. Let this be a warning to others."

Posted by
12091 posts

Ann,

Have you gotten in contact with the Austrian Consulate by phone? See what they suggest.

I've avoided these type of problems in traveling since I don't drive rental cars. Mainly, I don't want to be bothered with tickets, fines, and such tedious problems. The best thing is if you go by car, get someone else to do the drivng.

Posted by
23400 posts

Well I've been driving in, to, and through both Germany and Austria for many years; and riding the trains in both countries for just as long - longer actually - and have never had a ticket or any dealings with the authorities while driving.

Yes, driving on German Autobahns can be "interesting" but some of the earlier warnings are IMHO over blown, and certainly the "I told you so" was un-called-for. A vignette is a simple buy or don't after good advice to buy - the OP put her hands up and said so.

While the trains usually run well they are by no means perfect. My wife several years ago had a real run-in with the conductor on an InterCity from Koeln to Brussel (that tells you how long ago) after ICE from Frankfurt-a-M was two hours late and he didn't believe it. I don't remember all the detail but I'm sure she does. I certainly had plenty of difficult leaving Aachen for Koeln one year, and not all the trains I have ridden out of Munich and Offenburg have always been right on time.

I see clearly that there needs to be a balance struck - sometimes a car is better given the circumstances, sometimes the train, often a combination.

Not all Germans ride trains all the time. Else, where do all those cars on the autobahn come from? They virtually all have local number plates (you can tell from the prefix).

Posted by
12091 posts

"Not all German trains run on time." How true. That was the case in the 1970s and 1980s. I would have no doubts vouching for their punctuality back then. How many times in the summer on the platform do you hear the intercom say the words..."hat Verspätung" or "ist...verzögert" or "ist...verspätet" when it comes to ICE trains be it your train or not, as you listen to the various announcements. I have two coupons (Gutscheine) passed out by DB personnel as a measure of goodwill to passengers on two ICE rides because they they were so late. Of course, since I was coming back here those coupons didn't me any good since there was an expiration date. But I appreciated this gesture of good will. That happened in 2007.

Posted by
12091 posts

Ann,

I suggest calling the Austrian Consulate to inquire about the money transfer (Geldüberweisung) option. Does Western Union have an 800 customer service/info number to call? The one you already contacted proved to be of no help.

Posted by
49 posts

Sorry for the delayed response.

I finally have some closure to my idiocy. I emailed info@asfinag.at and they gave me all the info I needed, including the bank name and address and also the company name and address. My banker told me that Bank of America actually processes the transfers for the bank in Austria, so they had to send the wire to BofA, then BofA finishes the transfer (or something to that effect).

The fine was 120 Euro. With the exchange rate and bank fees, when all was said and done it cost me $200.

As for those who said to not rent and use public transportation, we used a lot of public transit there and it was fine. The town where we were staying was fairly small and remote and did not have convenient public transit options for coming from/going to the airport. Plus, we drove to France and it would have cost the 5 of us to take a train from where were were staying to Strasbourg over $600 and the rental for the week was $400.

That being said, it was still a lovely trip and we would do it again in a heartbeat (except we'd stop and get the vignette before crossing into Austria!).

Thanks again for your help!

Posted by
1420 posts

Driving in Germany and Austria is quite efficient and painless (except for fines). I recently rented a car in Munich and drove it to Austria.

Thanks to excellent advice received here, I was warned about getting the vignette. It was very easy and cheap : we just had to stop at a gas station just before the border, paid under 10 euros for the vignette, and followed the attendant's instruction for the proper place to stick it on our windshield.

Although I like and use public transportation a lot in Europe, I would not discourage anyone from driving a rental car in these two countries. Just be aware of the laws and respect them (vignettes, speed limits, parking regs, etc.).