Currently on a trip. We landed in Frankfurt and rented a car. On our first day out we stopped at the first cute town we came to and quickly found a parking spot in a lot by the river. We walked around the cute little town and came back. We had a ticket (completely in German) on our windshield. Could not find anyone to help us figure it out. Later on did we find out from someone that it was because we didn't use a parking disc on our dashboard. We didn't even know yet that we had the disc (in the glove compartment). It's a small 10 euro fine, but feel compelled to pay. Does anyone know the best way to pay this? We are currently leaving Germany and won't be back until our last night. Wish the ticket had a web site. I guess these little towns haven't caught up to the 21st century yet. But I guess that is why we stopped by in the first place. :-)
Most German towns do have a website. If you are willing, you might share the name of the town. The town website is often in the format xxxxx.de. The tricky part might be that many small place names have be combined into a larger community. Still, if you state the name here, someone may be able to help you identify it. Gary
If you commit to driving, you should at least understand a little of the customs (ie, parking) and language. For someone unfamiliar with the customs and language, public transportation is best.
And yes, towns usually have websites, but they won't necessarily be about paying tickets.
In one of Rick's programs (I think it is one of his three-part travel skills series) he does explain about the parking-discs.
The ticket should have an account number on it plus the name and address of the bank. Use that information to wire transfer the money when you get home. If you don't have a European bank account, it's a ridiculously complicated process.
"Wish the ticket had a web site. I guess these little towns haven't caught up to the 21st century yet." Whether or not the town has a website is irrelevant. The method of payment is standardized in all of Germany. It's the US banking system that hasn't caught up to the 21st century yet! In any other western country, you could go easily online to your bank and wire the money without any fees. Because the US gov't is so scared about tax evasion, you have to go through a lengthy process over the phone everytime you try to wire US dollars to a foreign account. And the service fee is likely to cost more than the fine.
If you're still in Germany you can go into a bank and ask for a Zahlschein, e.g. you give the bank cash and they'll wire it to the authorities (bring the ticket for the account and reference data). It will cost a small fee, but will most likely be cheaper and less of a hassle than wiring money internationally from your home (especially with US banks which are somewhat unaccustomed to such money transfers).
I wonder if the ticket didn't include an Überweisung (Pr. ue·ber·vise'·ung), which is the way Germans pay bills (as alluded to by Tom and Mark). An Überweisung is a small slip of paper containing the payee's bank number and account number and the amount. Germans write in their bank number and account number and give it to their bank to pay it. Kind of a reverse check. Saves mailing a check that could be lost in the mail.
Look for an Überweisung. Perhaps you could take it to a bank, give them the 10€ plus a handling fee, and they would pay it.
Yup, that's what I'm talking about.
The ticket will possibly (but maybe not, this would be much more likely if it came in a letter) include a form roughly 4x6" with yellow background and Überweisung/Zahlschein in the upper left. Something looking like this . Bob can't use it as an Überweisung, because he has no German bank account. But he can use it as a Zahlschein, because (I presume) he has cash.
But even if his ticket doesn't include a proper form, it will include all the information he'll need to fill one out with the help of a bank clerk.
What about going to Western Union, which are sometimes located in major train stations, to get the Geldüberweisung. You can pay in cash, only ten Euro, that's the same price for a phone card in Germany.
There are two kinds of parking tickets:
1) Just a pre-printed note that you violated against a parking regulation and will be sent a ticket soon
2) the actual ticket incl. fine and payment details
In the first case just let your car rental company know about it and they'll charge it to your credit card on file (plus, of course, a handling fee).
In the second case just take that ticket to any major bank, ideally a Sparkasse in the same town (but any bank anywhere in Germany would do as well) and tell them you'd like to make a payment. For a handling charge they'll take care of it immediately as well.
Parking discs are great - because they allow for free parking! Here is a link with explanation in German and English about this concept and how to use it:
Every time I've gotten a ticket the rental car company i.e. Hertz has paid it. Afterall they are the registered owner of the vehicle. I simply get a notice from Hertz that I got a ticket, parking or speeding, and that it has been paid by charging the credit card account I used to rent the vehicle. Pretty simple and straightforward.
Recently I walked down the street from our condo in Portland, Oregon, and saw a sign that for a moment made me think that parking discs were being instituted here. But the sign was in German. So was another new nearby sign that "directed" pedestrians to Stephansdom.
Turned out the signs were props for filming of the TV show "Grimm" -- the part of Vienna, Austria, was being played by Portland's Pearl District.
Thanks everyone for the responses. I've been meaning to give an update. When I got back to Germany I contacted Hertz and they said they would end up taking care of it and just charge my credit card (with a fee of course). Well, I just saw the charge on my card and it was for $40. So, basically a $25 fee to process everything. Not sure if it was the cheapest way to process everything, but it was the easiest (and luckily for Hertz, profitable for them).
FYI, for those interested, I did have a Überweisung on my ticket.