Rail customers who do not want to travel due to Covid-19 can now apply for their reimbursement online themselves. The process is child’s play.
Peter Cornelius has to do without his train travel for the time being because of the corona crisis. The Berlin regional chairman of Pro Bahn therefore submitted an application for reimbursement for a ticket to Karlsruhe and back to Deutsche Bahn (DB) in mid-March because the planned congress of the passenger association was canceled. “So far, however, there has only been one automated message, nothing more,” reports the expert.
Like Cornelius, many thousands of rail customers currently have to be patient. Because since there are strict travel restrictions, DB AG is flooded with cancellations. But since last Thursday there has been a new procedure for all trips booked online and on smartphones. The advantage: You can apply for a refund yourself in just two minutes. Important: For the time being, this only applies to all canceled and online trips for the period from March 13 to April 30.
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For the first time ever, DB AG is offering such a simple procedure, a spokesman told Tagesspiegel. This should relieve the service departments and reduce the processing times for applications significantly. A first test shows that the process works smoothly. The voucher code for a canceled super saver ticket was in the mail in a short time.
Thats how it works
And this is how it works: DB customers can find the exchange portal here. Only the order number of the booked ticket has to be entered there, as well as the last name of the traveler. Then a page appears with the option to exchange or cancel the ticket for another trip.
Anyone who chooses “cancel” will receive a voucher in the full amount of the ticket price paid, which is valid for a full three years. At normal times, depending on the time of the cancellation, there would be no reimbursement for savings tickets at all, neither in cash nor as a voucher, and certainly not free of charge and in full. Anyone who has booked a more expensive Flex ticket that allows free choice of train can choose in the new cancellation procedure whether they want their money back instead of the voucher. The usual “processing fee” of 19 euros does not apply.
How to redeem the voucher
The vouchers can then be easily redeemed online, at DB travel centers and agencies or at vending machines by specifying the code for new bookings. The DB announces that in addition to the long-distance tickets (ICE, Intercity and Eurocity), the cancellation procedure can also be used for some regional transport offers, such as the cross-country ticket or some country tickets.
But you can also wait and see
Those who are flexible and do not need the money immediately should not rush into anything. Because in the corona crisis, DB AG offers its customers extensive options to postpone or cancel a trip. For weeks, the rule has been in effect that tickets booked up to March 13, 2020 with travel days until April 30, 2020 can be used flexibly until June 30, 2020.
That means: Until then, cheap super saver tickets, which are otherwise tied to a single journey time, will make it possible to use any train until then. However, it is completely open which tourist traffic is possible again until the end of June. If you prefer to cancel, the new online portal will serve you well and at lightning speed.
Is the new system a model for all reimbursements?
Consumer protectionists have been demanding such a simple reimbursement procedure in favor of rail customers for years. Because even quickly bookable online tickets had to be canceled time-consuming with applications, even though the data is all stored in the systems. Now the corona crisis is obviously getting the company busy. Railway experts hope that an automated procedure for legally required compensation for delays and train cancellations could now come faster than previously announced.
Gerd Aschoff has already used the new cancellation path. Three weeks ago, the Pro-Bahn state chairman of South Lower Saxony had already applied for a price refund for a savings ticket using the DB goodwill form. “Nothing came apart from automatic confirmation of receipt,” reports Aschoff. With the brand new online process, however, the voucher was now there in a few minutes.
And what about after April 30th?
It is still unclear what will happen to tickets for planned trips after April 30th. So far, the railways have been waiting to see how the corona crisis develops and whether the government can ease travel restrictions after Easter.
So far, no one has been able to predict this reliably. “The DB should clarify this as soon as possible,” says Aschoff. He himself has already booked vacation trips by train to Cannes on France’s beautiful Mediterranean coast in May: “So far I am still at a loss,” the consumer advocate openly admits.
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