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Jacked by Deutsche Bahn (twice)

My family just got back from a three week trip around Germany, and we got jacked by DBahn, twice! The first time was in Dresden. We purchased a Dresen Regional Card from the Dresden tourist center at the hbf. We explained that we were going to Könegstein, and the person there, in addition to posts on is forum and the Rick Steves guidebook, indicated that the Regional Card was exactly what we needed. On our way back from Könegstein the conductor checked our card and told us that the card was only for Dresden and made us purchase tickets to return to Dresden. We were traveling with a native German speaker who tried to explain the Regional card to him, but to no avail.

The second time was when we attempted to use a group Bayern Ticket in Bavaria. After a much heated discussion with two different conductors and a ticket representative, I was finally told that the English version of the DBahn website is wrong. The upshot is that the group ticket does not include children, and the family ticket (which is only described on the German page) does not include more than two adults. So, if you're traveling with children both over age 18 and under, you can't effectively use either ticket. I was forced to purchase an additional individual Bayern ticket for my 19 year old daughter, and was offered no concession for the fact that their own website give incorrect information.

Next time I'm renting a car.

Posted by
16883 posts

Thanks for reporting those details. Were some of your children under age 15? That's the relevant cut-off age for most German tickets.

According to the English version of the Bayern Ticket information: One person may bring any number of their own children or grandchildren under 15 with them free of charge. Children up to and including 5 years of age may travel free of charge and without a ticket. For this reason, they are not included when determining the number of persons in a group.

My initial reading is that I would expect you to count and pay for all travelers age 15 and up (or any kids who are not your own). If the third sentence above is not meant to apply to the kids under 15, then that is a misleading translation and grammar structure (but better than many European web sites).

This German version looks to my untrained eyes like it says the same thing: "Eigene Kinder und Enkel unter 15 Jahren in vielen Fällen kostenlos."

Did you buy the Bayern ticket online or in the station? Did it ever ask for traveler ages or number of children? I think the web site may have a flaw in that regard, but don't know about other ticket machines.

Unfortunately, what any conductor believes can hold more weight in the moment.

Posted by
6479 posts

You can certainly rent a car if that's your preference but I can almost guarantee that it will add much more to your trip cost than a couple of add'l train tickets.

Posted by
12883 posts

Be advised that when you rent a car, hopefully an automatic is available in case you need that. If you drive a stick anyway, all the better. Anyway, you will pay for the gas by the liter. I would still take the train even it was taxing this time.

Posted by
16765 posts

I'm still trying to make sense of this. Exactly how many people were traveling together and what were their ages? If you were traveling on Bayern Ticket with 4 adults (anyone over the age of 14), you should have paid 38 euro for the Bayern Ticket.
As for the situation in Dresden, you should contact Deutsche Bahn via email, explain your issue, and ask to be reimbursed if the conductor was in error.
If you bought a Family Regio Card, the website in English clearly states:

2 adults and up to 4 children aged 14 or under

Posted by
27714 posts

I'm confused by this on a number of levels.

Regarding your first complaint - I can find no Könegstein in the VVO - the transit district (Upper Elbe) covered by the regional card which is a promotion of the Dresden tourist board, not the railway. There is a Könegstein in Taunus, near Frankfurt am Main and one in Oberpfalz, Bavaria.

Or could you possibly mean Könegsbruek, which is near Dresden?

The family Regio Card is valid for 2 adults and up to 4 children 14 and under.

It is only valid on VVO trains - Regionals and S-Bahns in the area covered. What type of train were you on?

And I am very confused by the number and ages of your children. I am sure that, even as they grow up and marry (or not) and have their own children they will always be your children - but in Germany on public transport, if they are over 14 they are not children and need adult tickets.

In your first post about passports you said "2 adults and 3 children".
In your next post about the Zugspitze you said "family of six (children 8-19)".
In your Restaurants and Tivoli post you said "my family of 5 (3 daughters 9-14)".
Then here you talk about 19 year old daughter and other children.

So a family of 6 must have 4 children? And at least one of them is an adult? But 3 of them are 9-14?

So - if you were going to Könegsbruek and not Könegstein and if you have 3 children between 8 or 9 and 14 they can be with you on your Family Regio Card and your 19 year old would need one of her own.

But you say that wasn't the problem on that train. Dresden also sells a Dresden City card which is not valid outside the city area and not as far as zone 34. It sounds like that may have been their problem, but this is all very confusing.

Now for the problem in Bavaria.

A Bayern Ticket in 2nd class costs €23 for the first person and €5 for each additional person over 15 years old. If those people have all been included on the ticket and the first person's name has been written on the ticket, then actual children and grandchildren of the named person can travel for free if included on the ticket. You can't have anybody, child or adult, who is not counted on the ticket, and you can't add additional people after it has been printed. It is also only valid on Regional and S-Bahn VRR trains and trains of other Bavarian verkehrsverbunden. 3 adults is €33.

Could you clarify exactly what did happen please?

(I live in England, and I know that we are separated by a common language. I work on the railways and am very familiar with European ticketing restrictions but I don't understand the term used "Jacked". Do you mean jackbooted, which would of course be pejorative to my German cousins?)

Posted by
16765 posts

There is a Koenigstein on the Elbe above Dresden near the Czech border.

Posted by
2472 posts

Nigel, I believe that the slang usage "jacked" means ripped off (jack someone up, jack a car, etc.). As far as I know, it is only coincidental that the word can be associated with "jackbooted", which here would be pejorative to overly aggressive police.

Posted by
5697 posts

And then, of course, there is the term "jack her up" used on a TV show based in Atlanta which (one assumes) refers to fully accessoring a bride to show her at her best (and to make her say yes to the dress.) Don't think this is what OP meant, though.
Although maybe it refers to misleading packaging -- like "mutton dressed as lamb."

Posted by
18301 posts

Did you have more than five people in your group?

The first Bahn page , Overview, in English, about the Bavarian Ticket says, "Rail one day with the Bavaria-Ticket through Bavaria with up to 5 [my emphasis] accompanying persons on all local trains! ". If there were five or less of you, total, it wouldn't have mattered. How did you get the idea you could take more than five for that price?

If you clicked Conditions, you would have seen that, "One person may bring any number of their own children or grandchildren under 15 with them free of charge." The very next sentence says, "One additional passenger may also come along for only 4 euros". (All underlining my emphasis.) How could you have read the first sentence and not the second one?

How were you "jacked"? I think the English wording is clear. You should have bought the second Bavarian Ticket from the start. Anyway, all the conductor did was make you pay what you were supposed to in the first place. He could have (should have) fined you for not having sufficient tickets for everyone in your party. He actually gave you a break.

Posted by
914 posts

Could it be that it was an intercity train from Konigstein back to Dresden rather than a regional train or S-bahn and that's the reason the Dresden card didn't apply? Based on the website sounds like it applies to regional and public transport but not necessarily IC. I don't know every in and out of DBahn; I'm just suggesting that could be part of the issue. ??

Posted by
13 posts

Wow, I never expected such a response. First of all, "jacked" is common slang where I live for "ripped off" or "robbed". We had a complicated trip with people joining later, etc. so if you're trying to add up all the people from different posts, it doesn't really work. By the time we were in Dresden and Munich, we had 6 in our group. Me, my wife, and 4 "children" ages 19 down to 8. I was very aware of the break for discounted children and often times had to pay the full price for a third adult (though several places, like the Königstein Fortress let the oldest slide in under a family pass as well).

As for the Dresden Card: I had a family card and an single adult card, we were on an RE train (as the directions indicated), traveled to Königstein (German spelling which is on the Elbe just downriver from Rathen). The card and accompanying brochure didn't specify exactly what stops were included on the Regional Card, it only had a cartoonish map, and the word of the guy in the tourist center. The conductor claimed that the ticket was only good for stops within Dresden, and of course, the English brochure I had was of no use. The conductor made us purchase three adult tickets (allowed the children to ride for free) to the first stop "in Dresden".

As for the Regional Bavarian ticket. I had three adults and three under age children traveling on a group ticket. Many of you found the website, where it clearly states that children can travel free of charge with their parents. Yes, that totally unambiguous and seemingly extremely well translated sentence in a very clear paragraph on DBahn.com is the one that I was told was wrong. I was given a German brochure which a traveling companion translated for me and it has two different tickets, a group ticket (no inclusion of children riding for free) and a family ticket (not mentioned anywhere on the English DBahn website) for two adults and children (14 and under). We were forced to buy the family Regional Bavarian Ticket and an additional single Bavarian ticket.

I emailed DBahn, and can you believe it....they haven't emailed me back (or changed the English description of the Regional Bayern ticket). I carefully went over every word of every description of every ticket I purchased. When traveling with a family, small things are more difficult to deal with. Based on all the information I have and read, I was right, yet train conductors insisted otherwise. I raised enough of an argument about the Bavarian ticket in the Munich train station that my wife was afraid the police were about to show up.

Posted by
27714 posts

There is a Koenigstein on the Elbe above Dresden near the Czech border.

Yes, Sam, I see it now. The one with the amusement park. Zone 72. As long as the train involved was an S-1 or a regional train it should have been valid with the VVO.

But we haven't had the poster back with the actual details...

Posted by
1775 posts

Don't give up on your email just yet. They may surprise you and issue you a refund, just not this week. Things move more slowly than we are used to in the states, but they do move.

Posted by
12883 posts

There is one thing I have learned in the course of trips in Germany and that is you don't argue with officials, their version of red tape, ie, officialdom, Beamtentum. If they say your wrong, you're wrong, they are not going to give in.

I was confronted with a situation in 1989 where the controller said I had to pay x amount of DM (forgot the actual amount) in using a German Rail pass, the same type I had used on a trip two years prior. My train riding habit was the same, did not do anything differently, never had any problems with any other controller (prior and since) upon presenting my Pass until this guy appeared in the compartment. The argument went back and forth in German. Right from the outset I figured the guy was not going to relent, even though it never clear to me what I had done different to warrant this fine. So, I decided to drag it out arguing with him, wasting his time, a matter of attrition. In the end, after wasting enough of his time, I handed him the amount in cash. Luckily, I had it on me. He gave a receipt stating the amount, which I still have as trip realia. Of course, I never checked with DB what the matter was.

Posted by
18301 posts

As far as the Dresden situation, I don't think we have the whole story. There are several "mistakes" in Birds story. First, and not all that significant, Königstein is UPriver from Rathen. Second, they could not have been on an RE. The only trains on the stretch are the S1 from Dresden and the EC between Brno and Berlin. The EC doesn't stop in Königstein, and it wouldn't be included in the Dresden Cards. The closest stops for the EC are Bad Schandau (up river from Königstein) and Dresden. The VVO-Tarifzonenplan shows an RE line (RE 20) running along the Elbe, but, in fact, it doesn't show up on any schedule. I made a pretty exhausting study of the schedule boards at Dresden, Königstein, and Bad Schandau, and couldn't find any REs going that route (there are some REs out of Dresden, but they go to Chemnitz, Leipzig, Cottbus, etc, not on the line through Königstein). Maybe Birds is confused about other detail as well.

There are several Dresden Cards, the Dresden City Card, which only includes transport in the city of Dresden, VVO zone 10, and the Dresden Regio Card, which includes all of the VVO, including to/from Königstein. If he only had a City Card, the conductor would have been right to have made him purchase the extra tickets. If he had the Regio Card, he should have gone back to the tourist center and shown them the Regio Card and the additional tickets the conductor made them purchase. Why didn't he do that?

As for the Bayern-Ticket affair, he was not "robbed" or "ripped-off". What he ended up paying was EXACTLY what he should have paid according to the offer. I've understood the offer for years. It used to be that the offer was for up to five people of any age, or one or both parents/grandparents and all of their children/grandchildren under 15. They've since made the second adult the other parent or a child over 14 or even another unrelated person. There are places in Germany (eg Nürnberg) where the "family offers" are for six people, only two of which can be adults.

By the way, when one person brings all of their children under 15, they only pay for a single Bayern-Ticket (23€). If a second adult comes along, add 5€, 28€ total.

Posted by
888 posts

Regarding the confusion on the Bayern Ticket, I think the problem is there are several different English versions of the same page:

The one Lee refers to is here: http://www.bahn.de/p_en/view/offers/national/regional/laender-tickets/bavaria-ticket.shtml

Discount for children: One person may bring any number of their own children or grandchildren under 15 with them free of charge. One additional passenger may also come along for only 4 euros (Bavaria-Ticket – Night for 2 euros, Bavaria-Ticket 1st class for 16.50 euros). Children up to and including 5 years of age may travel free of charge and without a ticket. For this reason, they are not included when determining the number of persons in a group.

But there is another UK version here: http://www.bahn.com/i/view/GBR/en/prices/germany-regional/bavariaticket.shtml

Discount for children: One person may bring any number of their own children or grandchildren under 15 with them free of charge. Children up to and including 5 years of age may travel free of charge and without a ticket. For this reason, they are not included when determining the number of persons in a group.

And even a third USA version here (which doesn't even have the "discount for children" section): http://www.bahn.com/i/view/USA/en/prices/germany-regional/bavaria-ticket.shtml

One person may bring any number of their own children or grandchildren under 15 with them free of charge.

The last two are more ambiguous.

DJ

Posted by
13 posts

My memory isn't what it once was and we rode a lot of trains....Lee's right the train out of Dresden was an S train...the largest S train of the entire trip, so without checking the precise train, I remembered it feeling more like a regional train. The type of train had nothing to do with the mishap. The issue was that I had imprecise printed material, and there was a significant difference in what was told to us by the individual at the Tourist center and the conductor on the train. I purchased two regional cards; a family card and a single adult card (that was not the disputed issue) and I was pretty certain that the trip to Koenigstein was covered. The conductor claimed that the last stop covered with the "Dresden Regio Card" was Dresden-Zschachwitz (before I'm accused of lying, I don't remember the exact stop, he said it was the last stop with the name "Dresden" in it, which appears to be Dresden-Zschachwitz). We pressed him and asked what was the last stop covered by the Dresden City Card, and he told us a stop that was a few stops closer to Dresden city center from the Dresden-Zsch. stop. We even asked why the regional card was even sold if it was for only an additional two or three stops and he basically responded with an "I don't know why you bought it". This happened somewhere near Heidenau, so he "let us go" by purchasing three tickets for a couple of extra stops. The whole time I thought we were being ripped off!

I didn't go back to the tourist information center because I thought the issue was with DBahn, my vacation time is precious, and I thought filing some sort of complaint would be an exercise in frustration even with a friend who could translate but who also thought it would be pointless.

As for the Bayern ticket: Thanks Lee....I should have talked to you before I left. The only problem is it doesn't matter what the deal used to be or what the website used to say, or how anyone else understood it.

Here's the link: http://www.bahn.com/i/view/USA/en/prices/germany-regional/bavaria-ticket.shtml

This is a link to the website that a ticket sales person in the Munich Hbf said was wrong. THAT'S MY COMPLAINT! And, I was not charged what I should have been charged, I was charged an additional 5 Euros because I purchased a group ticket for three adults, and then had to buy an additional individual ticket for 23 Euro and they didn't refund my initial 5 Euro.

So, based on what I was told in Munich, if you're traveling with children where some are over 15 and some are under 15, there isn't a great ticket for you. There is a family ticket for 1 or 2 adults with any number of children under 15 riding free; and there is a group ticket for up to 5 adults, children don't ride free, and I asked...they don't sell a child's ticket.

It had nothing to do with the fact that there was 6 of us. My parents could travel with their 9 grandchildren under 15 with no problem. The problem was 3 adults and some children. Again, that is not how this website reads, and quite frankly, I don't know what the real charge should have been since what's in writing apparently doesn't matter. The entire trip was unique due to an awkward number of "children" and adults. Most people never have issues like this.

I think the DBahn should have stood by what their website said, but they didn't, and my German friends said they don't. They actually thought the whole thing was funny and told me I had the true Deutsche Bahn experience.

Since I've had the true DBahn experience, next time I'll rent a car.