Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Deutsche Bahn Scam

I am doing "business mail" this morning including paying the shameless Deutsche Bahn (German Railway) for the BahnCard they automatically renewed even though I never wanted it (because I knew from the start I wouldn't be there to use a new card in 2010).

They don't care that I've sent them letters and emails telling them I've moved to the US, but instead have sent my bill for the never requested card to Universum Inkasso (a collection agency), so it just keeps getting more expensive. Well, I'll pay it now, because I feel harassed and like it is decreasing the quality of my life even though it feels like a scam (I missed the deadline to inform them I didn't want to renew because I understood you could only cancel it 6 weeks before the card expired...like right, if I move to the US 7 months before the card I bought expires, I'll be able to remember I have to send a letter in February or whatever). Their letter informing me of the automatic renewal reached me in the US after the deadline for canceling the card.

So I'll pay it, but their behavior is certainly one way to lose a customer. And I really loved travelling by Bahn.

Feels like a sect you can't get out of. I wonder if there is some consumer advocacy agency in Germany one can go to to inform them of forced membership renewals you can't be released from. At this point, my nerves are shot, so I'll just pay, but that doesn't seem right.
(June 9: I've been told of a link to a German site created by a person interested in a group complaint--http://bahncard-betrug.blogspot.com/)

U.S. has Germany beat head over heels in customer service.
In the meantime, someone told me you can cancel your BahnCard online as soon as you don't need it (leave the country, for example). Wish I knew about that beforehand, but hindsight is always 20:20.

I found a cancellation letter template elsewhere if you want to cancel in writing.

Of course none of this helps if you missed the cancellation deadline (6 weeks before expiry).

Afterword: Although I paid the collection agency to avoid additional fees, I sent one more letter (5/25/10) to Deutsche Bahn explaining the situation with copies of my lease and flight information to show I have been out of the country for a year, and today (7/26/10) I found out that DB reimbursed me for the entire amount. Hurray! So, do not despair, pay your fees, but do write DB and request their understanding re: reimbursing you for a card they automatically renewed, but you cannot use.

I sent my letter (the one that resulted in eventual reimbursement) to the following Deutsche Bahn address: DB Fernverkehr AG, BahnCard-Service, 60643 Frankfurt am Main.

On person wrote that his/her email to bahncard-service@bahn.de resulted in the charges being dropped. When I wrote this address, I just kept getting a form letter in return.

For all the people in similar situations, who seem to have found my family blog, good luck!


  1. I am seeing this as well. my wife got a DB card during an extended trip to Germany many years ago. no renewal payments were ever given, and no DB card services have been used since then. in the US this would have resulted in automatic cancellation of the card.

    what makes things worse is that the address universum inkasso has is incorrect, so earlier notices were never delivered. the one we received has a deadline of 22.05.2010, and it was received only today, on 01.06.2010.

  2. Hi guys -

    I have had exactly the same thing. I am a Brit living in Slovenia. I was recommended the BahnCard at the railway station. I said I won't ever use it as I don't live in Germany. It was still recommended in order to save my about 5 Euros on my 1 return trip. He never told me that I'd have to cancel it.

    On getting home, I chucked the card. I likewise chucked mail from DB Bahn, presuming spam... until I got the charming letter from Universum Inkasso telling me in bad English that I could only avoid legal proceedings by paying "exlusivly to our accountnumber"... and giving no explanation or contact number!

    I presumed it was a scam and researched online. Wikipedia told me what I needed to know --- that the BahnCard is effectively a lifelong subscription.

    Listen. mail me at mike_galsworthy@yahoo.co.uk -- although DB Bahn's website is useless - I managed to get through to BahnCard services on the phone thanks to limited German - and the guy was 100% sympathetic. He told me to write to bahncard-service@bahn.de and explain everything. Apparently there have been many incidences of the charges against foreigners being totally dropped - and they are considering revising their charging scheme.

    Don't deal with Universum -- they will offer to drop the interest but not the "basic" charge... and they insist that it is a legal form of charging. I'll write to them later... but right now I'm mid-composing my mail to DB Bahn.


  3. Thanks so much for your comments. The hits on my blog have doubled since I posted this (usually I just have my extended family popping by), and they are finding it with words like "deutsche bahn scam," "bahn card scam," "deutsche bahn inkassko." I think a LOT of people, especially tourists, are having problems with DB. As you said, Mike, you were advised to get the card to save just 5 euros and unknowingly got stuck with it, and now you start getting bills from a collection agency. Something is not right.

    That is great you posted the railway's email address, Mike. My personal experience sending emails to that address was that they just kept sending me a form letter saying I needed to send them an 'Abmeldebestätigung'--an official form showing I am not living in my German house--which I don't have because I did a house exchange when I first came over to the US last year and was told by the local authorities I didn't need to do the "Abmelden" (de-registration?) procedure.

    I agree, Aaron, that if you don't use such a card after an automatic renewal in the US, it is no problem to get the customer service agent to stop the membership without charge. With 9 hours time difference though, I figured I couldn't reach DB's customer service (I also didn't think I'd be successful), so I just paid the bill to have peace of mind. I don't want any more of their letters and don't want to feel like I'm writing to a brick wall. Still, it is not right, and that's what makes it feel like a scam.

    I'll be back in Germany to cancel the card 6 weeks before this next unwanted membership ends, but perhaps I'll try to work on some consumer advocacy re: the Bahn Card and tourists. Maybe they could just have a non-renewable card for anyone with a foreign passport.

    If anyone else has any experiences or advice (e.g., how to formulate the letter to the Deutsche Bahn so cancellation without fees is successful or if there is a consumer complaint agency), I'd be interested in knowing about it.

  4. Very encouraging to see this thread. I have also been in the process of complaining to DB and Universum Inkasso for a few months regarding this issue. Please get in touch by email to me at mloughran.com - I am also interested in stopping this outrageous behaviour from DB.

  5. this is happening to me as we speak - I am an australian living in sydney. I copy an paste my emails below with U Inkasso. This is such BS that I can not believe it. However I have made them an offer to get over with....
    I will keep u posted

    Dear Sir

    I am sorry but you do not seem to understand. I am only offering you 75 euros - That is my final offer!

    Please respond with you acceptance - otherwise receive nothing from me.

    Upon advice from my lawyer here in Australia I know that -
    1. If you ( an international debt agency ) want to recover a debt in Australia you would first have to "make a registration of foreign judgements with the Australian Supreme court". Please be advised that the filing fee alone for this is extremely expensive + any other associated costs.
    2. Other than this there is no way that you can enforce any claim against me here in Australia.
    3. I know that in both Germany and NL there are legal limitations Acts that provides a specific and finite amount of time for you to purse me on this matter. Please be advised that I was originally sold a Bahn Card ( without knowledge of its self renewing aspects ) on December 9th 2005.

    Further to this - I wish to seek confirmation that I can send you an Australian bank cheque in Australian dollars for the equivalent amount of 75 euros. I will not incur extra costs by making a international transfer to your account. Your organisation is really looking like an international joke - if you expect international citizens to pay these spurious amounts - I suggest an international payment vehicle. I mean even ebay has Paypal.!!!!!!!

    In no way take this offer to be an admittance of any accountability on my part. I am offering this payment so that you stop this harassing correspondence. That is all.


    On 28/06/2010, at 11:35 PM, wrote:

    Dear Mr. ,

    We hereby send you all the information you need to pay the amount due in respect of Deutsche Bahn Vertrieb GMBH.
    Unfortunately you can't pay with credit card. The only way to make a payment is with an international payment through your bank or sent us an personal cheque in your own currency.

    The file number which you need to provide with the payment is #####
    The amount due is € 97,24

    Account number Universum Inkasso:
    IBAN: NL62RBOS0530490943

    Our Bank information:
    Royal Bank of Schotland
    Gustav Mahlerlaan 10
    1082 PP Amsterdam
    The Netherlands
    P.O. box 12925 1100AX

    Yours Sincerely,

    Universum Inkasso B.V.
    Po Box 510
    4530 AM Terneuzen
    The Netherlands

    Verzonden: vrijdag 25 juni 2010 9:32

    email made to U Inkasso page

    I am very angry that I have received a second letter asking for payment.

    Of course I did not respond to your threatherning first letter. This whole situation smells like a german bahn card scam to make money from unsuspecting tourinst.
    I have written to deustcher bahn but of course have recieved no reply.

    I know you are fully aware of this bahn card self renewal money maker so I will not bore you with my details....
    I am angry......

    but- to get this finished with I have decided to pay - however
    1. Please be aware that I am an australian citizen and live in australia where the law says that a foreign collections agency can do nothing to me. Also that I recieve your correspondence some weeks after the "final" due dates!

    2. I therefore offer you 75.00 euros in total as a once off payment to end this

    3. www.universum-inkasso.nl/internationalpayment does not exist - so how can I pay through your "exclusive account number"

    Please provide me with your account details - IBAN and anyother number I need. I have a friend with a german bank account that will pay the amount of 75.00 euros to you directly when I have you acceptance of this deal

    good day

  6. Dear Sydney,
    So typical that DB does not really respond to what you have written. I had no idea they were still pursuing tourists who purchased BahnCards in 2005. Also, thank you so much for posting the information about international consumer rights. Reading this, I still feel so paralyzed about what a consumer can do without being hounded for an amount that in the end is not worth the feeling of being pursued by a credit agency, even if it's for something we never requested (that is what I kept pointing out to them because their emails talk about the "geforderte BahnCard"--requested BahnCard). Probably, most of us end up paying just for peace of mind, but with a bitter taste in our mouth, and the success for DB encourages its dubious tactics.

    I wish SOMEONE would have success in having their "charges" waived and would share their letter requesting the waive. So far, it sounds as if everyone has been hounded until payment received.

  7. Dear Laura and all - I have been chatting to lots of you over email and new people just keep coming.

    Some DB Bahn and Inkasso quotes are hilarious.

    Like I have said to some people - do a quick calculation of how much DB Bahn makes by tricking several hundred foreigners (over 1000, 2000?) a year each for a value of 100 to 200 Euros.

    We should try to find out if DB Bahn clerks get any financial or other incentive to "push" the cards.

    OK - keep it coming all. The ball is rolling now.

  8. hi Laura
    sydney here - below is the latest email from U Inkasso. seems like they will take what they can get. what a bunch of %$#@!**s
    Dear Mr. ,

    You can sent a check for € 75 to the following Address:

    Universum Inkasso B.V.
    Po Box 510
    4530 AM Terneuzen
    The Netherlands

    Universum Inkasso

  9. Hi everyone - I would like to say that today is an amazing day in the life of my battle with DB.
    After having decided to pay U Inkasso and ( fortunately) not having done so yet.... I today have received this email from DB saying I am off the hook.All it took was some more emailing complaining about the lack of info and that all the letters they sent were in german etc......
    happy days - persistence wins...!!! : )


    Your message from: 5. Juni 2010
    Our reference:

    Dear Mr. ,

    Thank you for your e-mail.

    BahnCards are generally a subscription with yearly renewal. To cancel your subscription we need your notice of termination 6 weeks before the end of the validity of the current BahnCard.

    The train service of Deutsche Bahn is generally provided in Germany. BahnCards are subject to the German law and jurisdiction. Documents, i.e. order forms and reminder, are therefore provided only in German.

    We are providing several possibilities to answer customer enquiries in English. Our contact data are therefore published on every document you receive, starting with the temporary BahnCard.

    Unfortunately you have not profited from this source of information."

    However, due to exceptional circumstances in this case, we have cancelled your BahnCard strictly on a goodwill basis even though you did not send us a notice of termination in time. No further payments are due.

    We inform the collecting-agency about the setting.

    If you have questions or need more information please send us a letter to DB Fernverkehr AG, BahnCard-Service, 60643 Frankfurt am Main or an e-mail to bahncard-service@bahn.de. We are at your service from Monday to Friday from 07.00 am to 21.00 CET at this number +49-180 5 99 66 33* (fees depend on country of origin and provider). Please choose number 9 for the English menu.

    With kind regards

    Yours BahnCard-Service-Team

  10. I'm so relieved that other people have experienced this! I am off to see my local citizens advice tonight to see if there is any way they can help with this as I refuse to pay for something I didnt ask for and had no way of cancelling!
    Anonymus above, is there anyway you could post the emails that you sent to BD? As I'm not even sure when to start when contacting them.
    Any tips welcome.

  11. Happy ending for me: Although I paid the collection agency 97€ to avoid additional fees, I sent one more letter (5/25/10) to Deutsche Bahn explaining the situation with copies of my lease and flight information to show I have been out of the country for a year, and today (7/26/10) I found out that DB reimbursed me for the entire amount. Hurray!

    So, do not despair, pay your fees, but do write DB and request their understanding re: reimbursing you for a card they automatically renewed, but you cannot use.

  12. Hi,

    Toady 27th Jun 2010 I have recieved anotice from the Universun Inkasso like many other foreigners. They have threatened me tp pay up Euro96.52cents for a forcible renewal of a card which I do not desire or for which i hve not requested.

    To be honest after my first renewal I have not made use of the said card even once. I dont understand how come they pput a claim for what I have not used at all instead they must pay me back the fees, it is ridiculous.

    I have decided not to pay at all for the services I have not acquired. I have not asked them to renew my card & without my consent how can they ask for? This is a day light robbery.

    I shall be returning my unused card back to them that's all.

  13. Dear All

    I was about to pay Universum, when this long trail of correspondence popped up. Quite honestly I can't imagine why DB hasn't changed this, as Universum is certainly not going to take non German nationals to court for €100.

    I, as you all, was advised to get a BahnCard and I used it for three years. As I live in the UK, it was sporadic. But last year I decided not to renew. Although I read German, I'd certainly never had or kept a copy of the original document and no one had notified me of the automatic renewal.

    I'm going to write to DB at the address above and copy in Universum. It is verging on the fraudulent to be selling cards to non-German speakers and not advising them at the time of purchase what the conditions are.

    I'll keep you posted.

    Malcolm from Wales

  14. Dear All,
    Intresting to see so many people in the same boat.
    I too was advised by DB ticket staff at Franfurt Airport to buy a Bahn Card, but again was never told of the automatic renewal.
    I find I now have to pay for something I never used and to my knowledge did not receive,if it was delivered to my home address it was dumped as junk mail.
    I have a letter from Inkasso demanding 112,06 euro without any explaination as to why I owed DB this money. Inkasso have replied today enclosing a copy of the original application form I filled in in 2004 with a copy of the rules all in German of course, which I cannot understand. Their final comment was if you did not understand the form you should not have signed it.
    I am still deciding whether to pay up and claim the money back from DB or seek legal advice.
    Good luck all.
    Alan UK

  15. I'm so glad I found this site as I thought I was the only one caught up in a fight with Universum. I purchased what I thought was a 1 way ticket from Frankfurt to London and on my return to Australia started receiving threatening letters from Universum. I just received a letter exactly like the one described above "If you don't understand these terms you should not have signed the form." I signed the form because I trusted that the Deutsche Bahn employee was selling me what I asked for and I was not told about any automatic renewal. I have sent an email to Deutsche Bahn today asking them to waver the fee and get Universum off my back.

  16. Hi,
    Finally had success! I wrote to bahncard-service@bahn.de and explained my case (that I don't speak the language and was not told about the automatic renewal) and I got an email saying that 'as a gesure of goodwill' I will not have to pay the fee.
    My understanding (and this may not be right??) is that a contract is not binding if one party can not comprehend what they are signing - I work for the government and would be in a lot of trouble if I got a non-english speaking client to sign up for services that they didn't need or want. I would advise everyone caught up in this to speak to Deutsche Bahn before paying anything.

  17. Hello there,
    just to add another account of just about the same problem. My taster bahncard was renewed autmatically and several letters had been sent to the german address i had been staying at the time i bought the taster card. i however live in england so didnt get them until after several weeks my friend passed them on. i emailed deutsche bahn explaining that i had moved and would they please cancel the card and use my english address for further correspondence. deutsche bahn of course wrote back to the german address, which again, i didnt receive for several weeks. again i wrote to them, and even sent them back the damn card and they said all was fine and the case was closed. then a letter from universum inkasso arrived asking me to pay nearly 100EURO- when i contacted deutsche bahn about this they said i owed them this because of something something - i didnt understand what they were saying! - i told them i didnt understand them, please could they clarify and also explain to me why they had never sent me a bill for the money i supposedly owed them still. they asked me to call as they had several questions. i refused as their calling charges were simply too high but offered them to answer their questions per email. the reply i got then was an apology, saying they had made a mistake in the cancellation and i that do not owe them anything anymore.
    so if deutsche bahn try to mess you about be persistent even though it is a complete pain in the arse!

  18. Hello everyone,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience with Universum Inkasso and Deutsche Bahn.

    My situation has occurred twice now. In 2010, I am receiving a letter from Universum Inkasso for my automatic renewal of DB Bahncard in 2009. Also in 2010, I am receiving another a letter (all in German) for another renewal of DB Bahncard for 2010. I have since left Germany in 2008 and only purchased 2008 card.

    I have asked German Paten to contact Deutsche Bahn before my departure in 2008 to cancel my card. In addition I have written to them but received no response.

    So far, I have no resolution from Deutsche Bahn. I do not have email address of Universum Inkasso.

    Does anyone has Universum Inkasso?

  19. Dear Needing-Universum-Inkasso-Email-Address,

    I don't know the email address for Universum Inkasso, but their postal address is:
    Universum Inkasso B.V.
    Po Box 510
    4530 AM Terneuzen
    The Netherlands

    However, I was able to have my problem resolved by writing the Deutsche Bahn directly. They then asked Universum Inkasso to refund my money.

    The address I used was:

    DB Fernverkehr AG
    60643 Frankfurt am Main

    I explained the situation, included documentation that showed I was living abroad for the time of the automatically renewed BahnCard, and provided my bank information for the refund because I had already paid the Inkasso money.

    Two months later, the money was refunded.

    So you may have to be patient, but it seems they do get to the requests to waive the bill or refund payment.

    All the best,

  20. I am in the exactly same situation and definitely agree the the BahnCard is an unconscionable scam. When I was in Germany about five years ago, there was a slight difference between train tickets, but I was happy to go go with the more expensive one not to sign up to a bahncard that I would only be using once! Anyway, the guy convinced me that signing up to a BahnCard was fine, which was misleading, since he would have known that they automatically renew and did not inform me. Further, since it was obvious I was australian, he would have known that I would have not known this. In fact, now I think about it, he did seem a bit shifty... or maybe that's just hindsight. Anyway, they have continually sent me letter in Australia with new BahnCards, which I discarded since I could not read German (because wow, there are so many German's in Australia speaking German and pushing for German minority rights), and did not want these cards. Then I got the letter from the debt collecting company, to the same respect as described above. I got the letters tonight and I am furious! Since now I understand what is going on because they are in English this time. There is NO WAY I am paying, for something sold to me without being told of the obligations. I had paid for the card for a year, and I did not use the renewed card because I live in Australia and I am not going to pay for a service I did not use. I am never going to Germany again if that's how they treat their tourists and will be writing to DB tomorrow to let them now what my opinion is. I don't care if I entered into a contract, the fact of the matter is, that it is illegal (at least in australia) to sell a contract to someone while hiding the obligations (as what happened to me). Anyway, really just makes me mad.

  21. Well I seem to be in this endless loop with DB and Universum as well. The frustrating part is that it is very difficult to get out of it by actually paying - their letter quotes a payment link that doesn't work and their main website says the payment option is under construction!
    I think another email to DB is needed pointing out all of the same points, - one significat problem is that the bancard service number is premium rate and can't be dialled from outside Germany. Thank you for the helpful comments above to prove I am not alone!

  22. You have it right Laura. Contact dbahn with your query if you are a 'foreigner' – the story will end painlessly. Better still, cancel auto-renewal directly after purchase:
    http://www.bahn.de/p/view/home/kontakt/bahncard_service.shtml. They will send you a confirmation email on completion.

    I’m having fun in a similar situation, in that an auto-renewal non-payment has been passed on to Universum for chasing. The card arrived to my home address in the UK in June, which I ignored. I then did buy a bahncard in mid July, which I now use.

    The problem that Universum have is that they are suggesting I should own two bahncards consecutively. There are also other questions such as why dbahn allowed me to purchase a second card etc.

    In this instance there’s no need to contact dbahn – universum will drop the case as it costs them more to pursue a case that they may not win than it does in recompense. If a case ever found itself in a civil court in your own country, you would probably be criticised severely for signing up to a German contract without receiving either advice or a translation, but then it would be rejected for precisely the same reason.

    The simple fact is, auto-renewal is the way things are done in Germany. Telephone, ADAC, mobile, insurance – everything is auto-renewed. Of course, like everyone else, I didn’t know, up until I was told by my German girlfriend to cancel the auto-renewal! And of course being English I didn’t really understand auto-renewal meant and I ignored the advice.

    So, we’re to blame for our own ignorance of German culture and our own stupidity, not DBahn and their so-called scammy contracts. Would you purchase a property in Europe without wanting to understand the laws of the land, and getting a translation for each and every document? I would hope not.

    Die Bahn über alles!

  23. Hi Laura,

    Nice that DB reimbursed you for the entire amount.

    I also paid the collection agency 97€ to avoid additional fees a few months ago. Maybe I can get my money back as well?

    It would be great if you could send me a copy of the letter you sent (5/25/10) to DB explaining the situation.



  24. Hi Laura
    I'm in the same boat. I visited Germany in 2008. I had a week and wanted to hike in the Black Forest, so needed to catch a train from Frankfurt Airport to Pforzheim and return. Cashier sold me the Bahn-card (there was some sort of special deal because of the Euro 2008 finals) and I saved a few euros on the train ticket. But I live in the UK, never intended going back to Germany to use the card again (and haven't) but got a new card sent, with a demand for payment, in October. I emailed as soon as I got it (which was before the expiry date of the old one) but got no acknowledgement. The next correspondence was from Universum Inkasso over a year later, demanding payment with interest and collection fee added. Since then I've sent letters, faxes and emails to both D-Bahn and UI, but I'm still being hounded for 97.76 euros. D-Bahn say they are unable to cancel the process (note, unable, rather than unwilling).

    I'm pleased for you that you got it sorted, Laura. Perhaps DB would eventually refund me if I paid, but it's a risk. If anyone has the magic formula to stop this harassment without my having to pay, I'd really appreciate an email from you.


  25. Dear Peter,

    I admit, I caved in to the pressure. I felt exactly the way you did--"hounded"--when I was getting letters from DB and then Universum Inkasso, so decided my peace of mind was worth more than the amount DB wanted. Of course I felt angry about having to pay for something I never requested ("forced to accept" is more correct), which is why I had to blurt it out on my family blog. In any case, my suggestion would be to pay and then write the letter to DB with your original cancellation email attached. If you get your 97.76 back, that is the fair response from DB. If not, at least you can let it go and not be reminded of it every time a letter arrives in the mail. My impression is emails get "lost," but at some point DB does get to letters.

    All the best,

  26. Hi All,

    Caught in the same situation. I finally ended up paying the renewal fee but I still get threatening letters from Inkasso. I have mailed DB and I am waiting for a response...


  27. This is most frustrating and of course a total Scam.
    I believe that if it was intended to auto-renew they would have asked for authorization on a credit card to odo the renweal payments too.
    One cannot be asked to pay for something that one did not request or use.
    I have written to Deutsche Bahn and intend not to pay Universum anything. Anonymous Australia

  28. Hello All,

    I just solved my Bahn card problem. It would be much better if I saw your comments before. The auto-renew is definitely intended and is common in Germany too, e.g., my ADAC membership also auto-renewed every time, I did not run into big problems since I still live in Germany. But if you want to cancel the ADAC memebership, you have to do it 3 months before the expired date. For my bahn card, I was lucky that my payment reached their account 2 days before they sent me the letter so the extra service fee for universum inkasso (UI) has been cancelled. I did this by calling DB and UI. And my feeling is that if you write to them from abroad, it is very problematic from all aspects, i.e., time to have a reponse, whether they really proceed it in a good time intervel, whether there are other issues you overlooked or hidden (most likely). Hope more English bahn card holders see these comments asap! The other point is that lots of useful information is intentively made not to easily obtained by customer based on years expriences with O2, DB, electricity comanies etc. Good Luck!

  29. Hi,

    The email address I used to contact Universum Inkasso is: incasso@universum-inkasso.nl

    Best of luck

  30. Hi,

    Glad I found this blog, my friend and I got stuck in Hong Kong during the ashcloud last year, after a week we managed to get a flight from Hong Kong to Delhi and from Delhi to Frankfurt, from there we just needed to catch a train from Frankfurt, at the trainstation we we're adviced the cheapest way was to get a Bahncard, we explained that we would only need it this once, but the guy at the counter said a Bahncard would be the cheapest way, at no time did he inform us about any automatical renewal.
    A few months later I got a new card in the mail and paymentslip, I do not understand german, but I assumed that it was an offer to renew the card if needed, so i threw it out, paying no further notice, until yesterday when I received the letter from Universum.
    My friend called DB and Universum and was told about this automatic renewal after a year, he informed that we hadn't been advised about this, but that a year didn't pass so if we could cancel the cards now, it turns out our cards was some sort of special World Cup cards, which would be renewed after 6 months, so now we are doing the best we can to see how to get out of this mess.
    I'm glad I found this blog, gives me hope knowing we're not the only ones having these problems with DB....

  31. Seems to me that if DB is selling BahnCards to visitors who are obviously tourists and don't even speak the language, they should at least send the renewal forms which explain the automatic renewal system in English.

    Probably they shouldn't even sell their BahnCard to tourists, but rather have some type of TouristBahnCard which doesn't automatically renew when an applicant applies with a foreign home address. Good luck getting it sorted out. I'm sure you will be able to, but you'll probably have to be patient!

  32. Me too! I have had the same happen - something needs to be done to stop people getting scammed and DB Bahn are treating people unfairly! I will keep posting letters and email and I am not paying! PB

  33. Hey! Me too !! It has been so stressful. Today i sent a letter to UI stating my case: that i never agreed to renewal - there is no valid contract for this, that i dont read german, and that there terms and condits are only in german, so ther cannot expect me to adhere to this, and that an automatic renewal without reasonably opportunity to canel is unfair in EU law. Should we collect names together, and make a complaint through the Office of Fair Trading in the EU. Their behaviour is basically a huge scam. I am not going to pay...but not sure how it would go in court. Wonder if it will go that far. has UI taken anyone to court outside of germany?

  34. The 'hey, me too' post above is from me, richard@verneys.co.uk please email me if you are in the same boat. a huge list of people going to the office of fair trading might just result in this damned company stopping their obnoxious practice re this.

  35. I am for a group complain - the DB Card is off their limits. I totally agree that it is a real scam.
    Here is a letter I am mailing to DB Card and the Agency they hire in sunny Holland:


    I would like to receive all the papers and bills concerning my BahnCard in English or in French. I would like to see my signature and the Contract between myself and your Organization as well. I DO NOT understand the German nor Dutch, thanks for understanding! Please send to me all the papers concerning your service and the agreement / Contract between DBCard and myself. I did return my DB Card to you. Since you are continuing to “harass” me with the payment please inform me in my language (French or English) about all the responsibilities between you and myself and “privileges” which I can get from your services. Please explain to me clearly all about the Card Services and the Card cancellation since I would like to send this message to the Internet Forums concerning Deutsche Bahn Card so other people will also understand clearly all the responsibilities between DB Card and the Card Holders and not get eventually into a payment trap which is included in your services – I mean the cancellation dates, etc. A German colleague of mine was telling me that she is feeling also trapped with the Rules of the DB Card Cancellation.
    I would like also to know when and where your discounts apply since I live in Belgium and do not travel between Belgium and Germany. I believe one cannot “profit” from your card on certain destinations within Germany and between some EU destinations as well.

    Concerning the Universum Inkasso Dossiernummer: 106744931/00/00 – I would like to get from them all the papers in French or in English. I have just got home after my concert tour so I will try to react on your correspondence from both DB Card and Universum Inkasso as soon as I can. I will also try to speak to my Lawyer to get the thorough understanding of what is going on.

    Again – please mail to me all the papers (contracts, bills, reminders, whatever a foreign “customer” should get from you) in French or English, please. I remember getting only money transfer orders from you in German. Many thanks!


    Sergei Istomin
    Bruxelles, Belgium

  36. Please contact me at violoncelle.istomin@gmail.com I can sign all teh petitions - as I say it is a real crap their service - totally obnoxious

    The Company which is harassing me at the moment is Universum Inkasso www.universum-inkasso.be
    Now I must pay 59,52€ instead of 57,00€. Interest started some months before!!!!
    There is NO use for this DB Card if I live in Belgium! I can mail all the correspondence with the DB Office if needed...

  37. Your message from: 31. Januar 2011
    Our reference: 1-5532635225

    Dear Mr....,

    We regret that you have no further interest in your BahnCard.

    BahnCards are generally a subscription with yearly renewal. To cancel your subscription we need your notice of termination 6 weeks before the end of the validity of the current BahnCard.

    We can not accept the cancellation of your BahnCard, as it is not timely 6 weeks prior to the expiration date for the BahnCard existed.

    We have, however, made a note of the termination of your subscription of the BahnCard as well as perhaps available additional cards for the year following on this to 2011-11-16.

    The demand for payment continues.

    If you have questions or need more information please send us a letter to DB Fernverkehr AG, BahnCard-Service, 60643 Frankfurt am Main or an e-mail to bahncard-service@bahn.de. We are at your service from Monday to Friday from 07.00 am to 21.00 CET at this number +49-180 5 99 66 33* (fees depend on country of origin and provider). Please choose number 9 for the english menu.

    With kind regards

    Your BahnCard-Service-Team

  38. Thank god i am not the only one with this issue. I had an automatic anewa renewal..after 6 months !!! I will not pay .

    I have instead sent DB my own personnle invoice for charges of £75 per E mail and letter i write whilst dealing with this issue. I have given them a dealine to pay...and now as a two fingers up to them i will consider using Universum Inkasso to collect my debt owed by DB..what comes around,,i will let you know if i am successful

  39. Hello everyone,

    back in July i traveled from the airport in Frankfurt to Italy by train, i reside in the United States. At the counter the sales agent told me to buy the Bahn Card as it will save me money period. Everything was in German and he skillfully told me, "don't worry just put your address here and sign there". I was stupid enough to believe he was honest although i had a taste of iffiness in my mouth... You know the rest of the story...
    The only thing is that they have been using an address i don't really reside at to communicate to me, as i placed the address i was going to in Italy on the form used to sign up for the care so i had no clue of this issue until my uncle called me up from the old country to tell me they received a letter saying they will take legal action unless i pay an absurd sum of money.

    The question i have here is the following. If i do nothing since i don't want to waste my time any further than i have already done so and they are not paying my time either, what can they do? Can they arrest me in the US (I doubt it), can they arrest me next time I am in Italy (i doubt it too) so what can they really do?

    This certainly is on ****ing dishonest company.

  40. Dear One-Time Traveler from Frankfurt to Italy,

    I would write the DB one letter explaining just as you did above how you took a one-time trip from Frankfurt to Italy and were told to sign the form and provided the address you were going to in Italy. I'd then ask them to please withdraw their demand via the Universum collection agency.

    DB Fernverkehr AG
    60643 Frankfurt am Main

    The Deutsche Bahn really should be made aware of the situation for tourists and advise their ticket agents not to suggest the BahnCard for those not residing in Germany.

    After you've written the letter informing them of the situation, I think you can have a clear conscience. As far as I know, the collection agency cannot pursue you in the US. If they don't revoke the charges, the collection agency might continue sending mail to your uncle's, but maybe your uncle could cross out your name and note you've moved. It seems from people's experiences though that they keep sending notices for YEARS.

    Best of luck,

  41. It is amazing how many comments are posted. As a company Deutsche Bahn has got to know that they are pissing people off from all over the world and are seen as a dishonest company. I think we should be letting our German embassies know that international travellers are getting stung by this scam. I got out of my fine after receiving letters for 3 years. I wrote to Deutsche Bahn directly and stated that I trusted the Deutsche Bahn employee who instructed me to sign the document - I can't read German, I needed the train ticket, so had no choice. I am booking an o/s holiday this year and will let the travel agent know not to recommend people trust Deutsche Bahn.

  42. Hi I have tried to add to this blog a few weeks ago but it didn't work; I have the same problem after travelling there last summer.

    Recently I sent a stronger 2nd letter to De Bahn and wrote seperately to the CEO of Deutsche Bahn, and cc'd the Ambassador of Germany in UK, European MEPS and the National Tourist Office of Germany. I also contacted the European Consumer Centre in Dublin (there is also a German one amongst others) who will arbitrate if needed and were responsive and helpful.

    After my second letter De Bahn has agreed to cancel my debt on behalf of their CEO. The Tourist Office also requested them to cancel my debt. De Bahn were far from admitting in their letter that they were at fault but if these organisations and the CEO continue to get letters of grievance they may well take action. It is disturbing that the National Rail Carrier of Germany treats tourists travelling by train in this way.

    I wonder if those selling the cards in the train stations are on commission.

    Please see the following:

    http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/redres-cons/index_en.htm (or search European Consumer Centres Network)

    Regulation (EC) no. 1371/2007 of the European Parliament and of The Council

    Eisenbahn-Bundesamt (Federal Railway Authority Germany-who also arbitrate)

    Contact the German National Tourist Office-cc them on letters

    Best of luck


  43. HI I am glad to know that I am not alone! and of course I am sorry that so many people are having problems with Bahn Card and Inkasso. I am student Italian, and the last year I had a trip to Germany with my father, we bought two Bahn Card. currently I live in the US and last week I got the letter from Inkasso about the claim at my address in Italy. Of course I don't want to pay it. I wrote to Bahn card and I got the mail that most of you already know...their conclusion obviously is that I have to pay. I really don't know how to manage this situation, therefore any advise is more than welcome!!
    I hope someone will share the emails they sent to Bahn Card with the requests to waive the bill or refund payment. it would be very useful! If someone want help me please contact me at serena_tuc@hotmail.com Thank you very very much in advance!!

  44. I am facing the same problem, I never lived in Germany but signed up for a bahncard through my online DB account. It was very easy all in English and never once stipulated that it was an open ended contract (mind you I didn't read all the small print).

    First response has been to just refer me to Universum Inkasso, I have no intention of wasting my time with them though. I assume Universum are buying this debt from Dbahn and raking in a fortune from people too busy/worried to bother fighting it.

    Next step will be to contact the CEO's, ambassadors etc. But where did you find the addresses anonymous K?

    Then what happens if I do nothing? What steps can Universum take and has anyone had experience of them taking any in the UK?

    Here is my initial email to bahncard service but not sure I would crib from it as it hasn't got me far!
    How 'strong' have those people who's 'debt' was dropped gone?

    Dear Sir

    I am writing to you regarding your demand for payment for a Bahncard renewal that I have not requested. Letters from DB Bahn and Universum Inkasso have been sent to an old address and were just passed to me when by chance I bumped into my old landlord (no information has been sent to my email address which you have on file). The letters from DB Bahn are in German so I have no idea what they say, the letters from Universum are at least in English but they demand money that I do not agree I should pay.

    I have never lived in Germany but I travelled there regularly during 2008/2009 using the train to get from Frankfurt to Stuttgart. I signed up to a Bahncard in 2009 using my online DB account, I had used the account many times to book standard tickets and one week I followed the link which offered a discounted fare. I understood that the card would give me 12 months of discounted travel, but at no point was it made clear to me that the subscription was effectively indefinite and I was committed to pay for the annual renewal until cancelling the card in writing. Soon after buying the card my situation changed which has meant no more travel to Germany, I did not think anything more about the card or my account as I assumed it would just run for the given 12 month period. I think I have only used the card twice so I have not even saved the original price of purchase and now I have demands for nearly €100 for something I will not use at all? Even if I had received the initial letters to my current address they are written in German which gave me no chance to remedy matters before being chased by the debt collection agency who according to their last letter are now moving to legal enforcement.

    After researching this issue on the internet I can see there are many people in my position and that while contracts in Germany typically work in this way it is totally alien to anyone from UK/US. The letters demanding payment and threatening legal action are upsetting for someone who is not used to such treatment. I think this approach reflects really badly on your company for many foreigners and that is a shame when the transport service you provide is absolutely first class.

    I would like to formally cancel my bahncard and I sincerely hope you can appreciate my position and see your way to cancelling the demand for any charges through Universum Inkasso.

  45. Dear Anonymous,

    Yes, I agree it's a pity the DB has this brusque way with foreigners who misunderstand their conditions, when their train service is "first class." I thought your email to them was good and perhaps enlightens them to the cross-cultural differences when it comes to offering such "deals."

    Now I've moved back to Germany, but have been hesitant to use the Bahn; the trips I HAVE taken I've done without the benefit of a BahnCard discount, even though I now know how it works. I hope they get their public relations worked out--would be a win-win situation! Perhaps if applicants were asked their nationality, the BahnCard could automatically default to a truly one-year discount card for non-Germans. That would save a lot of grief all round!

  46. So a celebratory update.
    DB have agreed to drop the claim through Universum Inkasso. It took a fairly tetchy email reply to their first response but well worth the time spent writing it!

    I don't see any real movement from them in how they operate though. Their view is that they are following the law in Germany and anyone visiting should understand that.

    Anonymous from June 30

  47. hi all,
    I think not telling all the reality is a kind of telling lie. These people in Deutsche Bahn are making money out of scamming other people. I am going to open a page in Facebook for a kind of protest and also sort of giving informing to other people on this regard.
    I tried to clarify my case to them but unfortunately it is just waist of time. I don't remember anybody told that the person who sold such a card informed about cancelling it. I guess these people who are working for Deutsche Bahn are well informed or even taught not telling the customer about cancelling condition on purpose.

  48. There is no point in using this blog to make rants about the Deutsche Bahn Bahncard Scam. What is required is some major negative publicity to expose what is clearly a money making venture that DB use to scam foreign tourists to Germany for a service which they have not paid for. The fact that the renewal notices are in German and that they do not even send a new card speaks for itself.

    There needs to be extensive posts on Tripadvisor warning of the scam and advising tourists NOT to purchase a Bahncard. The warnings also should be on Facebook and anywhere else where this will generate as much negative publicity for Deutsche Bahn as possible. If anyone finds or starts such threads then post that info here so we can all contribute.

    This is an outrageous and dishonest practice intended to exploit foreign tourists visiting Germany. The only way to stop it is to spread the word and expose this scam!

    1. This is indeed the most practical suggestion. The more widely advertised this scam is, the lower the chance of unwitting people falling prey to it.

      In my case, I even cancelled it 8 weeks before the deadline, but DB just denied having received the cancellation (unfortunately, I did not send the cancellation via registered post)---and was then slammed with the Inkasso cr***.... Moral: Just stay away from Bahncard, regardless of cancellation or not. And if one cancels, then request a "Bestätigung" (confirmation) of the cancellation.

  49. Hey guys,

    I had the same issue, but its not true, that you have to wait 6 weeks before expiration of your Bahncard to cancel your membership (thats how I understood the author). It's the other way around: you have to cancel at least 6 weeks before the card expires. I am german, who emigrated to Switzerland and I tell you guys, the internet is full of germans complaining about this, but no one cares until he/she gets letter from the debt collectors.



  51. Nothing surprises me about this morally-criminal, money-worshipping, cold and indifferent company. My own company, another den of German thieves, didn't decide to pay me (an American contractor) for over four months because of bogus lies about invoicing. As a result, they finally started to pay me the back-pay after I had to virtually beg the ingrates. They even paid that late and I was on vacation when the momey still wasn't in my bank for them to debit. By the time I returned home and read DB's notices and imposition of over 1100 euros instead of the 227 to debit plus threats of an collection agency.

  52. Wow, I wish I found this blog before I fall into the scam of DB. Can't believe this is happening in 2016 but DB is still practicing this. I live in Canada and purchased a three months Bahncard for my trip to Europe. After I got back to Canada I got busy. Then one month before the expiration date of my existing Bahncard I received an email from DB about the subscription renewal. DB sent me an invoice asking me to pay for the Bahncard subscription till Sept 2017. Since I live in Canada and have no use the Bahncard I wrote them an email requesting the cancellation, this was 4 weeks before the expiration date. Then I received a reply back from DB saying that I have to cancel 6 weeks prior and asking to pay. I was so upset and tell them I live in Canada and do not want to renewal this. DB replied back saying that I am bound to the terms when I initially purchased the Bahncard. Communicating to DB was like talking to a brick wall. What should I tell them so they will "cancel my subscription base on good will"? What will happen if I don't pay them at all since I live in Canada and don't go to Germany?

    1. Dear MicroSosick, I also felt as though the email service was "like talking to a brick wall." As I wrote above, my snail-mail letter with copy of airline ticket, rental agreement (showing I do not live in Germany), explanation of steps taken ended up with their reimbursing me. I know it is sooo nerve-wracking, and even though before I always traveled with the DB, I'm again living in Germany (since fall 2010) and have refused to get a DB card and avoid train travel in a way I never did before. A pity they don't understand the ramifications of their stubbornness (automatically renewing contracts are fairly standard in Germany--I fell for the same thing with the Triple A equivalent--but really they should not be doing this to tourists/foreigners in the country for a short period of time). Best of luck, Laura

    2. Thank you Laura. Frankly speaking, this leaves a very bad taste for me towards German corporations. The way they conduct their business is like we are all rigid objects, not human. That their laws are so cold. I just can't think of any reason that they have to have 6 weeks notice in order to cancel the subscription. With Internet and computer technology nowadays it should be simple enough to cancel one's subscription. I guess my North American common sense doesn't work there in Europe. I will write letter to DB to stress my situation and hopefully they will reconsider this. Thanks so much and I really appreciate your support.

    3. Hello Laura, or Microsick, I am having the same problem. I was living in Germany and had a Bahncard 25, now back in Argentina i received a mail asking for me to pay in the next two weeks for the renewal. I send a mail cancelling the unwanted suscription 4 weeks before the date, but it wasn't enough, they say I am cancelling the 2018 suscription. What should I write to solve the problem without paying? The date for the transaction is in two weeks.

    4. Hi Javi, So sorry to hear about the same thing happened to you. For me, Because I was so tired of the cold response from DB saying that I have to pay. I just gave up and went through the trouble to purchase a Canadian foreign bank draft in Canada and mailed that to them. But weeks later they mailed the bank draft back to me. They said they were unable to deposit the bank draft, therefore, the subscription is expired and the case is closed. I guess you just have to show them that you actually don't live in Germany. Anyway, even 1.5 years later I still think that is a very bad business practice and unfair for the customers. This is already 2017 and they still requires 6 weeks of notice to cancel subscription? Unbelievable! Anyway, good luck and I hope you don't have to go through the same trouble as I did and they would cancel your subscription.

  53. Hi Laura, I have a similar problem even in 2017! I'm English and spent an academic year abroad in Germany from 2015-16, and it seemed like I had cancelled my renewal correctly, but I have recently found letters asking for over 700 Euros for unclear services such as "Werkvertrag". I can afford to pay, but at first I genuinely thought it was a scam! Then they got Inkasso involved (now seemingly based in Frankfurt), and the latest letter has a solicitors stamp on it. I've sent an email to DB today asking for clarification but it seems even more sketchy than the prior examples as I received an email before I left Germany saying that they accepted my cancellation! I also speak decent German yet don't understand what the costs are for. This is all very strange, just thought I'd add my story to this ridiculous saga

    1. Inkasso also have no email address to contact as far as I can tell btw