I got a ticket on the train in Munich, does it matter?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by Muadeeb, Feb 24, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. My first post here, so let me say hello!

    I landed a new job this fall that has me traveling 50%. I'm still only at Silver Medallion on Delta since I haven't been doing it very long, but am on track to hit Diamond this year.

    I was in Munich in November, where my hotel gave me a train pass upon check-in that they said was good for the whole city. On my way back to the airport, the train cops got on the stop before the airport and check everyone's tickets. I'm sure you see where this is going.

    They tell me my ticket is good for the city zones, but we're way outside that perimeter so they gave me a 40 Euro ticket for not having a train pass. Nevermind that I can't read any of the train pass, ticket, or even fully understand the cop. They let you pay by credit card right there, which I did. I got reimbursed by my company for it since they understood it as an understandable mistake. And i put it out of my mind.

    Last week, I get a letter written in German from what appears to be a collection agency, claiming I never paid the ticket and with penalties I now owe 108 Euros. Luckily I have an acquaintance who lives in Germany and she made some calls on my behalf. Through her, I find out that what I thought was a receipt was just the ticket, so they say I have no proof of payment. Sure enough, I looked back at my credit card statement and I couldn't find the charge on there. Through my friend, I hear that they could possibly try to garnish my wages, although neither one of us thinks this would be possible.

    I learned a few lessons, like always make sure you have the right train pass in the first place.

    So my question is, should I care if I have an outstanding train ticket in Germany? I do plan on going back on occasion, but I can't imagine that information gets communicated to customs. I don't plan on breaking any more German laws, so I don't think this would come back to haunt me, but then again, maybe it's worth paying ~$150 to save myself a lifetime of worrying about Germans asking to see my papers.

    What do you think? Anything I should tell this agency that could get me off the hook?
     
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  2. Sorry, hit the button to quick:

    Thanks for any advice!
     
  3. dhammer53
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    dhammer53 Gold Member

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    As long as you don't plan on returning, or transitting in Germany, I think you'll be ok.
    Please note, I'm not a lawyer.
     
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  4. CharlesG

    CharlesG Gold Member

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    Since you were never charged the original 40 euros, and were reimbursed, I'd say just pay it. I know you don't plan to break any other German laws, but you did not intend to get the first ticket either. What if you get a ticket while driving, or get stopped for accidentally littering, or any other minor innocuous thing-- you can bet if they see an outstanding ticket with your information on it, it'll be much worse.

    Just my opinion!
     
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  5. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Were you asked to show your passport? If so, what passport will you show when you enter the country the next time?

    Maybe your friend could explain the misunderstanding and your willingness to pay the original fine. You were reimbursed for it, so if you pocket that money, you'd risk getting in trouble with your employer if they ever were to find out.
     
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  6. kyunbit
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    kyunbit Silver Member

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    Offer to pay the original fine. Tell them exactly what happened.
     
  7. DTWBOB

    DTWBOB Silver Member

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    The same type thing happens on light rail systems in this country where there is an honor system for tickets -- only the offender gets removed from the train.

    In this case, my recommendation would be for the OP to write them and explain what happened and ask that any fines be abated.

    DTWBOB
     
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  8. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I saw an offender get caught on CalTrain a few months ago. The conductor asked for the guy's ID, and he claimed he didn't have any. The conductor asked him if he was sure, because in that case he'd have to get police involved, and that he happened to know there was an off-duty sheriff's deputy in the next car. The offender apparently thought it was a bluff. Turns out it wasn't and the conductor returned with a plain-clothes sheriff's deputy who apparently happened to be on his commute. Suddenly the offender discovered that he did have his drivers' license in his wallet (surprise!). I had to get off the train at that time and don't know how this ended, but reading various threads on the internet, it appears fines are significantly higher than 40 Euros (or even 108 Euros). And they will come after you if you just ignore the citation, just like a speeding ticket. And no, confusion or language difficulties don't really count as an excuse. Occasionally the ticket vending machine(s) are out of order, and I make sure to search the train for the conductor to let him/her know (always got a free ride).
     
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  9. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    Germans are pretty detail oriented...not sure I'd mess around and not pay the fine, especially if they have your details...which I am assuming you do since they sent you the letter regarding collection. If you got stopped by the police or on the train again, it could more costly issues...
     
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  10. Seacarl
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    Seacarl Gold Member

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    Since you say you are planning to travel to Germany in the future, I would pay the fine. You could write a letter explaining that you thought you paid it on the spot, and maybe they'll waive the extra penalties, although I wouldn't count on it, especially if you write in English. It may be easier to just pay the elevated fine now and get it behind you. As others have said, you will run the risk that your passport will be flagged if you don't pay.

    Also generally the Munich transit system has excellent and complete information in English, so I doubt you will be able to argue that the information on the fare zones wasn't available to you. (Not saying you read it or knew.) Even the pass you got may have had a map or other instructions showing its validity.
     
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  11. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Suppose the unpaid fine disrupts your next business trip to Germany, for example by making you very late to a meeting. How would you explain it? There could be serious consequences for your job.
     
  12. FlyerChrisK

    FlyerChrisK Silver Member

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    Paying an even a 108 euro fine seems like an easy solution to this if you can't get it negotiated down to the original 40 euros.

    I'm still surprised that there was a language barrier in the first place. Most of my conversations in Germany wind up with me speaking German and the German speaking English as we each desperately try to practice our language skills.
     

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