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Metro Fine - To Pay or Not to Pay?

This past Saturday in Budapest, my travel companion accidentally handed me an already validated metro ticket instead of the fresh one in his pocket. I was surprised when I got checked by an inspector and we saw our error. It was completely unintentional and we had bought a ticket for the ride. Just validated the wrong one. Funny enough, we'd had a metro employee help us out when we entered. They must have missed it also. We tried to explain to an interpreter, but they weren't having it. I did not have the 8,000 Ft to pay them. He took my drivers license (which my last name has legally changed and address is not mine anymore. Though my ex husband lives there). I was thankful I did not have my passport with me. He handed me a ticket for 16,000 Ft and said to go to the post office? The post office was closed and we had to leave early on Sunday morning.

I am back home and I have the ticket with me. None of it is in English. And I can hardly read the handwriting on the ticket. I'm not sure if they truly have my info either.

I know that no one would advocate that I don't pay a fine. But, honestly, do I pay or not? I think I found a website that says you have to bank wire money?

Has this happened to anyone else?

On a side note, I loved Budapest!

Posted by
10992 posts

khull78; I know the temptation, gone, never to return and so..... But you accepted the rules when you entered the metro. So you don't feel to silly about it, I did the same thing last year. I handed my wife, not a used ticket, but the top leaflet on a book of 10 tickets. The metro cop chased me through the underground at Nyugati (huge place) and grabbed my arm from behind. I almost decked him. Actually when I swung around he looked so terrified I felt bad. He kept pointing to his arm band; almost begging, don't kill me. It was 8,000 on the spot. You could have paid the 16,000 while you were still in Budapest, but now you have to pay for a wire transfer. Life is just life sometimes. The moral of the story is get a TravelCard.

Posted by
4637 posts

I am not advising if you should pay or not. That's up to you to decide. I am only saying - if you pay, they will be pleasantly surprised. If you don't pay, nothing will happen.

Posted by
4637 posts

Well, James, I think that that picture will convince everybody to pay their fines.

Posted by
4506 posts

I'm surprised they did not make you pay on the spot, even escorting you to an ATM if needed. That is standard. I'll leave it at that...

Posted by
10992 posts

It's 8.000 on the spot, or they trust you to pay 16.000 at one of a half dozen offices; but they don't strong arm you to an ATM. It's a pretty civilized country. After 30 days they double the fine. Then another 30 and the put you on the arrest rolls and if you show up in the country again they send you to a labor and reeducation camp.

Hard for me to imagine walking around in a different country, and between my wife and I not having $30 in our pockets.

Posted by
23739 posts

Let's put the shoe on the other foot for a minute.

You don't give a clue where you are from but let me assume for the purposes of the exercises that you are in Chicago. One of the transit cops finds a Hungarian on vacation in the windy city who has (accidentally or not) not paid his fare on the El. He gives him a ticket which will double and then redouble and tells him where and how to pay the fine (in English of course because not that many Chicago transit cops speak Hungarian. Oh, and the ticket isn't in Hungarian either and his writing is difficult to read - because he's a Chicago transit cop).

Instead of taking care of business when right there and getting the cheap fine, our Hungarian friend leaves the country and goes home where he has second thoughts especially because the price has gone up and now he has all the hassle and cost of a wire transfer.

If you are a Chicagoan what should he do? Tell the CTA that he doesn't care and carry the guilt for a few years? Or pay his due?

Posted by
10992 posts

On a side note, I loved Budapest!

But does Budapest love you?

Oh, and Hungary requires you to have your passport on you at all times. Probably to prevent people from misrepresentation. You dodged that bullet too.

Posted by
4506 posts

If you are a Chicagoan what should he do? Tell the CTA that he doesn't care and carry the guilt for a few years? Or pay his due?

Well, the CTA really needs the money. On the other hand, what are the chances a Hungarian tourist will return to Chicago and our US border patrol will be waiting with handcuffs to whisk them off to a hard labor camp?

Posted by
73 posts

Do you do the right thing only when someone is looking or only when you think you might get caught? It seems to me it's just that simple. If you're that kind of person, you can decide whether or not to pay the fine. If you're an honest person, pay your debt.

Posted by
8293 posts

The OP has not returned to say how she is receiving the advice here. Can't imagine why not!

Posted by
10992 posts

I don't think anyone was bad in their responses. Honest (except for the labor camps) but not demeaning in any way.

Posted by
8293 posts

I was not, repeat not, implying anyone was mean or demeaning, for Pete's sake. The OP received advice from everyone to pay the darn fine, while I suspect she'd rather not. That was the meaning of my post. You misread me, James.

Posted by
10992 posts

And I did misunderstand your point. But wasn't bent about it either. I have rarely agreed with you on social issues, but I have never seen you unfair or internationally demeaning. So, deep breath.

Posted by
312 posts

I totally agree with Traylaparks.
You should have paid the fine in Budapest, but now you'll just have to pay the higher fees. Otherwise, "Karma".

Posted by
1036 posts

Pay the fine. Your friend should offer to pay at least half if not the whole fine for his part in this. Otherwise he's not what I would consider a good friend.

Posted by
1 posts

If he had not bought the ticket, I would agree - he should pay the fine. But he had purchased the fare, and to punish someone to the tune of $100 for an honest mistake is something I don't think the Hungarians intended. (Although our guide advised us twice to ensure our ticket was "pinched", so maybe they are that strict?) Anyway, I would sleep easy knowing I had paid for my fare and there was no intention on my part to defraud the system. I don't plan on going back, though...

Posted by
10992 posts

If he had not bought the ticket, I would agree - he should pay the
fine. But he had purchased the fare, and to punish someone to the tune
of $100 for an honest mistake is something I don't think the
Hungarians intended.

It was exactly what the Hungarians intended, otherwise no one would pay, they would just keep a ticket in their pocket in case they got caught. "Please officer, it was just an honest mistake, here's my ticket." But the real issue here is that; you go to their land, you play by their rules. If that doesn't work for you, stay home. And the fine was about $30 if they had paid up when requested, $60 prior to them skipping out of town, and now its about $100 because of the bank transfer costs. Then he brags about having given false information to the officer. At what point do we begin considering personal responsibility? They won't pay.

And I can talk like this because I made an "honest mistake" in the metro once. I prefer to call it a reckless mistake. Cost me 8,000 forints ($30). I don't wander out in towns thousands of miles from home without at least $30 in my pocket, so no big inconvenience.

Posted by
12118 posts

only $60 is the fine. That amount is insufficient for paying a parking ticket in SF. You still escaped lightly. Why should any of the ticket be in English? That's your problem, not theirs.

"Does Budapest love you?" Good question, same as does Paris love you? I still go back to Budapest and Paris no matter how they feel about me, makes no difference. A ticket in Paris definitely will have no English.

Posted by
10992 posts

Fred, no, the fine was only $30. It doubled when they didnt pay on the spot, then it doubled again when they skipped town without paying. Now if they were to pay, they would have to pay for a wire transfer.

Posted by
12118 posts

Then the initial fine at $30 was indeed cheap. That was the first error, that of not paying. You don't fight central European bureaucracy with the expectation of winning. Even if it cost them $100 or more to process a $60 ticket or any amount smaller, they will still come after you. I would not bet on their giving up, ie, let you escape with this unpaid ticket.