Berlin ..Fined..Help ASAP

Old May 11th, 2006, 05:25 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 178
Berlin ..Fined..Help ASAP

Hey all..I promise a full trip report when I am back, but I need some help figuring out what to do currently...

I am in Berlin & asked for a 3day ubahn/sbahn pass... I dont speak german AT ALL and I thought english would be much more prevalent that it is.. anyways, found out today that apparently I dont have a 3day pass.. it is in fact only a 1 day pass. I am SOOO mad at the agent at the train station who sold it to me. Why didnt she give me the right one??? So, these very mean men on the Sbahn today took me out and gave me a fine (since I bought the ticket yesterday it is apparently no longer good today). they didnt really speak english and didnt understand me. i didnt pay the fine but they wrote down my passport number and gave me this ticket i cant read at all. the only thing i understood was that its a fine of 40 euros and i have 2 weeks to pay it.

What do I do? I leave Germany in 5 days, and I leave Europe exactly 2 weeks from yesterday (today is the 11th, i leave the 24th). Do i have to pay it?? will they track me down?? what happens??? where do i go???

THANKS SO MUCH. I am SOO frustrated.
oobylicious is offline  
Old May 11th, 2006, 05:32 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 6,260
"Why didn't she give me the right one...?I suspect the person who sold you the one-day pass meant no harm and perhaps was not able to fully understand what you wanted (given the stated language barrier) and would love to have sold you something more expensive don't you agree?

Wish I could help you with the fine...in a lot of places you are forced to pay on the spot; am sure if you ask at the hotel you'll be advised to pay it which, frankly, is what I would tell you.



Intrepid1 is offline  
Old May 11th, 2006, 05:38 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
how did you fnd out about the passes? since you are aware there is a 1 day and three day, weren't you surprised by the price you were charged for the one(3) day? or did they charge you for a three day and give you a one day?


(has nothing to do with your problem now) butgetting back to oiginal question.

i am all for paying fines.

maybe if you go to the main office of metro where it is "manned" you can talk to one of the men there, explaining the confusion, and see if they will help you out of this fine if you pay for the Three day pass.
i doubt it, but worth A TRY.

i had some problem having bought the wrong ticket and REALIZED it and they were able to cash it in against another one or return the money, i don't recall.

they speak excellent english in the manned offices.

good luck.
i would imagine, the germans, if anyone, have a plan to get you somehow.. maybe at airport, or through address from embassy .. who knows.

i would suspect the fine would arrive eventualy and become dearer every week you didn't pay.
lincasanova is offline  
Old May 11th, 2006, 05:39 AM
  #4  
Neopolitan
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I don't want to preach, but you seem irritated at the idea that you are unable to read the ticket and that the people who gave it to you couldn't speak to you in your language, yet you also seem upset that the girl who sold it to you couldn't understand you. You've learned a valuable lesson -- you're in a foreign country and all those people are not expected to speak your language, you need to deal in theirs.

I'm surprised that nowhere on that pass you bought there isn't an actual number 3 or 1. Those numbers are universal in any language. Did you look at the pass carefully, even if you don't speak German? Did you check out the pass prices before buying? You should have, and you would have certainly known that it was the wrong pass if it wasn't the price of a three day one.
 
Old May 11th, 2006, 05:40 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 178
but they dont speak excellent english at the manned offices..that was where i bought my pass. i bought it at zoogarten train station.

germans i met on the train from Vienna to Berlin told me about the 3day pass. i didnt know how much it cost...



oobylicious is offline  
Old May 11th, 2006, 05:43 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 178
i know i know, i am foreigner in the travel country. in all the other countries (france, spain, italy, etc.) i learn the right phrases to use at times, but i was told that in germany (esp. berlin) english would be so prevalent i wouldnt have to learn german.

the only number on my pass is how much it cost and a 3.00 which i thought was 3 days
oobylicious is offline  
Old May 11th, 2006, 05:43 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 6,260
just a thought..you might be able to get some friendly advice if you stop in at the Euraide Office at the Zoo station.

Yes, I realize they usually deal with rail tickets but they DO speak excellent English there and it might bring you some reassurance.
Intrepid1 is offline  
Old May 11th, 2006, 05:45 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 178
i will go try to find the euraide office, thanks. this is so frustrating esp. since i am leaving tomorrow morning from berlin.
=(
oobylicious is offline  
Old May 11th, 2006, 05:46 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 6,260
is there an American Express office near you..another possibility.

Of course, the easiest possibility would be to go to a manned U-Bahn/S-Bahn station l, pay the fine, buy the pass you want and chalk it up to a less-than-fab experience....sitting there at the computer is wasying valuable travel time opportunities!
Intrepid1 is offline  
Old May 11th, 2006, 06:02 AM
  #10  
ira
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,567
Hi oo,

I would go pay the fine.

Since your address is registered with the police, they can bill your hotel, who will then bill you.

If you don't pay, you will be put on a watch list and will have to pay it plus interest and fees the next time you visit Germany.

ira is offline  
Old May 12th, 2006, 08:20 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 468
Well - just in case anybody else has this question. There IS NO 3 day travel pass in Berlin. The 3 day passes are tourist passes called Welcome Card and something else I have forgotten and let you into sights as well. I have no idea where you buy these but they come with discount booklets.

You can only buy 1 day, 1 month etc passes from the ticket machines and booths.

Sorry to hear you got fined oobylicious. You were unlucky as nobody ever stopped us anywhere!
wilees is offline  
Old May 12th, 2006, 08:45 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,282
You should use the self-service ticket machines, which have an English option.
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Old May 12th, 2006, 11:32 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2,646
Wilees is right.. to get caught riding "schwarz" is rare. In living in Berlin two years, I was asked only once to show my ticket, although I witnessed several times people quickly exiting the train when a couple of men wearing blue jackets entered! It says something about a country that operates its public transportation mostly on the honor system.
Trophywife007 is online now  
Old May 12th, 2006, 11:43 AM
  #14  
hsv
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 2,801
In order to clarify this: The EUR 40.00 are not a fine, since the S-Bahn is basically a private company (owned by the city of Berlin and possibly with a share of state-owned Deutsche Bahn). Thus, they are not allowed to fine people - the penal monopoly is, of course, with the state.

What you are dealing with is having to pay a surcharge to the usual transportation price. It is set out in the general terms of business which you basically agreed upon by using the trains. This may sound like nitpicking, but it might indeed make a difference, since it is quite unlikely that the state would collect the money upon your next immigration. Basically the Berlin S-Bahn or its operators would have to make a claim against you. I doubt that they are going to collect that sum in the U.S. since that would involve more cost than benefit.

They might also try to initiate criminal action against you - but German DAs would never ever prosecute a first-time offender (who in addition is a resident of another country).

It is thus quite safe to assume that you may well not have to pay this sum - however, the grounds on which they claim it from you are perfectly legitimate. In your place, I might feel tempted to pay it - at least that's what I generally do when being ticketed for parking offences in the U.S.
hsv is offline  
Old May 13th, 2006, 04:23 AM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 178
thanks everyone.

i spent all day my last day in berlin being sent from office to office...they told me i was too early to pay it? very confusing. they told me to write a letter. now I am staying with a couple friends in dortmund, and then im off to other countries..not sure how id even go about paying it.

my german friends are holding onto my ticket and are going to call on monday (as i wont even be here) and try to handle it for me (esp. since they can speak german).

hopefully everything will pan out ok!

thanks!
oobylicious is offline  
Old May 13th, 2006, 04:40 AM
  #16  
AR
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 886
Any country that makes you jump through hoops for being honest deserve not to get the "fine" paid anyway.
Stuff them and smile as you think that you've got one over them.
AR is offline  
Old May 13th, 2006, 04:53 AM
  #17  
ira
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,567
Hi oo,

At this point, I suggest sending a letter to the office of the Prime Minister, copy the US embassy, about how you made a mistake, tried to pay the fine, spent an entire day of your vaction being shuttled around, and that you think Deutches Bahn owes you as much as you owe them.

Do this on Tuesday, after you hear from your friends.

Hope the rest of your visit goes well.

ira is offline  
Old May 13th, 2006, 08:09 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 21,137
hsv,

I had a different understanding of the "fine" system on the Berlin transportation system. I heard that a conductor could not force you to show your ticket, hence no fine since no proof, but that you had to show your ticket to a police officer. Fare jumpers used to get off the train when they saw a uniformed man get on, so now Berlin uses plainclothes officers to catch fare jumpers.
Michael is offline  
Old May 13th, 2006, 03:49 PM
  #19  
hsv
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 2,801
Michael,

I cannot see how your perception differs from my outline.
It is indeed a criminal offence not having a ticket and using public transport. However, such action will not be prosecuted if you are a first-time offender. If it indeed would be prosecuted by public authorities such as a DA, one would indeed be officially fined.

That said, the fee of EUR 40.00 is being charged legally is not a fine as the S-Bahn is not a public authority. It is rather labelled as an increased transportation price that is being agreed upon by the users of public transport and the public transport companies by means of the general terms of business.

You are therefore right as far as you claim that they may not force you to show your ticket. BUT: Under sect. 127 of the German code on criminal procedures, every person may force another person to prove their identity if said person is suspect of having committed a criminal offence. The S-Bahn personnel would therefore be entitled to demand personal data from any person suspect of using public transport without a valid ticket.

BTW, this is valid throughout Germany - the system in Berlin does not differ from the system in any other German city.

Finally, I happen to disagree with ira. It rather appears that the S-Bahn is being accused of hassling the OP. Rather the contrary. The OP did not have a valid ticket. He/She is thus subject to having to pay the increased transportation fee. If this does indeed involve some efforts, so be it. It rather seems an audacity to me to complain about such procedures to the German government (which again has nothing to do with this since it is not a public fine). It might rather be helpful, if one would undergo some effort in a foreign country to comply with the rules and legislation prevalent there. The complaints about the whole matter are rather unjustified and may even create an impression of ignorance and arrogance with some people.
hsv is offline  
Old May 13th, 2006, 04:52 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
i haven't seen the fine, but i certainly would assume it should tell you in plain german where to go pay it.
i can't imagine someone wasting all that time being sent from one place to another.

plus, many places frequented by tourists have their fines written in several languages.. especially how to pay them!

that said, in spain, if you are stopped for traffic violation and cashless.. the police will impound your car or accompany you to atm so you pay them on the spot.
lincasanova is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO