Terrible customer service from Deutsche Bahn

112 posts in this topic

Hey Toytowners

 

I've had many experiences of bad customer service here in Germany since I moved here in May last year. Most of the time now, I just shrug them off as I'm getting more and more used to it - as many of you have expressed in posts, I am actually surprised when I am provided with above average service here.

 

However, the other day at the Deutsche Bahn really annoyed me. I was there buying a Monatskarte for the Stuttgart-Heidelberg route, without ICE. That's what I ordered. The lady printed out the ticket, the price was around what I usually pay so I assumed it was ok (plus I had not been provided with the chance to review the ticket) and I paid via EC karte. When the lady handed over the ticket, I realised that it was incorrect - it was without ICE, IC or EC (nur Nahverkehr). Heavens knows how she managed to get it to such a high price when it was only Nahverkehr, but whatever.

 

I explained what I needed. She was then incredibly rude and said 3 times that I had in fact clearly not ordered 'without ICE' and had said 'without IC'. She said that in any case there are no ICEs running on this route. (In fact, there are.)

 

She actually then printed out the wrong ticket again (it was 80 euros too expensive so I guess she had not run it through at a student price). I asked her to please check whether it was correct. She argued with me once, until I demanded she checked it and, surprise, I had to wait for another (correct) ticket to be processed.

 

Then she said that next time I may not stand in the 1.Klasse queue and I must take a number and wait for the lit-up counters. I explained that, when I bought my first Monatskarte in March this year, her colleague had told me to come to the 1.Klasse queue and I had followed his instructions every month since March. She said nevertheless, I may not stand in this queue.

 

By then, I'd had enough and wrote down her name, the time and the counter no while explaining that I was going to write a complaint about her service to DB. She said (quote), 'Warum? Weil Sie nicht richtig sind?'

 

So, you can probably imagine that it was an unpleasant experience. It was not the worst example of customer service I've had here, however I am particularly annoyed because I spend a lot of money at DB and I expect at least a basic civilised service. This lady argued with me 4 times over what should have been a minor misunderstanding.

 

Does anyone know whether it's worth it for me to bother writing a letter of complaint? It would be worth it, if the complaint would be followed up on. I would be extremely happy if I received an apology from her! But I don't expect miracles from an otherwise inefficient, partly state-owned monopoly in a country with one of the worst levels of customer service in the world.

 

What do you think?

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Does anyone know whether it's worth it for me to bother writing a letter of complaint?

It wasn't even worth your while writing this post.

 

You had a situation where you had to deal with a grumpy employee who was probably having an even worse day than usual. It's not really the end of the world and there's certainly nothing you can do to change it.

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It's fine to write and let them know about the employee's behaviour, but be assured that she will never, ever apologize.

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I wouldn't bother either just take comfort knowing that this miserable woman has to sit there day after day after day being mardy to people.

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Then she said that next time I may not stand in the 1.Klasse queue and I must take a number and wait for the lit-up counters.

 

I thought it would be fairly obvious that the 1st class queue is not normally the correct one for buying a second-class ticket, even if you were on one occasion asked to see someone who was at that time at a first-class counter.

 

 

partly state-owned monopoly

 

It's not partly state-owned, it's entirely state-owned, but it's not a monopoly.

 

Anyway, you could have written that letter three times over in the time it took you to start this thread, so I suspect that you now feel better having got this minor incident off your chest and you can now let it rest.

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Gosh you guys are quick!

 

I know I sound like I've got my knickers in a knot. It's just annoying that this snitchy bitchy ruined my morning. Sure, it's not the end of the world! I understand that she's a poor loser that probably hates her job, but is too incompetent to find an alternative, and probably too moody to be successful in friendships and have fun. But I am sick of accepting these low levels of service here. :ph34r:

 

People have bad days, and bad moods, in other countries too but it doesn't excuse rude customer service there.

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BTW - writing a letter of complaint in German which can be taken seriously would take me around 50 times longer than posting on TT.

 

Thanks for the support. I am going to write, not expect a response, and ensure my knickers remain untwisted for future rendezvous with German customer service.

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But I am sick of accepting these low levels of service here.

You really only have one option then and that is to leave. I was in Ireland last weekend and marvelled at the wonderful service in various industries there. People are just nicer in general. I've been in Germany for about 11 years now during which time I've seen climate change, shopping times change, governments change but one thing is consistent, customer service in general sucks donkey balls.

 

Good luck with your knickers.

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I'd say don't bother with DB. My sister in law wrote in to complain that her train is too small (short, whatever) and there isn't enough space for people who take their bicycles to commute. Their response? "Don't bring your bike."

 

We got stuck on a train that broke down on the way from the main station to the airport. We were on that train without moving for 1.5 hrs. It then took 15 minutes to back to the closest station so we could get on a train to take us back to the main station. 45 minutes later we were finally on another train headed to the airport and in the meantime our flight took off. We were headed to Rome and thought 2 hours was more than enough time. We had to pay an additional 500 Eur to book another flight and when we wrote an email to DB to complain they basically said "tough cookie."

 

I don't think they care. You can either take the train or not but since it's a necessity for a lot of folks they know they have the upper hand.

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While this might be true:

 

 

You had a situation where you had to deal with a grumpy employee who was probably having an even worse day than usual. It's not really the end of the world and there's certainly nothing you can do to change it.

 

I experienced a somewhat similar though not so drawn out situation recently:

 

 

I was at the REWE at Petuelring yesterday to buy some drinks from their Getränkemarkt, a room set aside for beer, soft drinks and water and provided with two cash registers. Problem is, they were both not staffed, both bore a sign saying "pay at the next cash register, please". After waiting for four or five minutes I asked the kid who was filling the shelves if someone could come to the register. He obligingly went to one of the cashiers who paged the Getränkemarkt guy.

 

He eventually came up in a huff, said "I'm busy in the vegetable section, go to one of the other cash registers" and turned away. Now, I had been waiting for almost ten minutes, other people were in line behind me. I told him that I refuse to be treated in such a manner after waiting patiently, left my drinks on the counter and walked off. His parting shot: "Whatever" (Wie Sie möchten).

 

After cooling down I sent a letter to the store management today. Although venting here lets off steam it won't change anything.

 

After writing a letter of complaint:

 

 

Snakes alive!

 

I received a phone call from the store manager (who sounds like he's about 22) this morning shortly after 9 am, immediately after my letter was delivered. He was almost groveling! He confirmed that he knew who was on that shift, that he had expressly scheduled this person to staff the drinks section, that he was supposed to be cashiering there and that he may have been called to the vegetable department to answer a question but never for a prolonged absence.

 

He, the store manager, was shocked at the guy's behavior and will certainly take him to task, emphasizing the enormity of his rudeness and warning him about a repeat performance. And the next time I frequent the store (yeah, like that's gonna happen) I should ask for him, the store manager, and receive some kind of compensation.

 

Seeing as he has already done what I had expected but not demanded, i.e. apologized to me and chastized the culprit, I am satisfied with the way he has dealt with the whole incident, but I would not turn down a €50 gift certificate.

 

So yes, complain (but don't moan) about her attitude, ineptitude and rudeness. Stick to the facts, don't get emotional and tell DB that you are sure that this woman's behavior does not reflect their firm philosophy (they love that phrase). You'll get rid of negative emotions and it just might help. Doing nothing will change nothing.

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I think you should do it. If nobody complains, nothing will change. You've got all the details, go for it. It can't do any harm to you and could possibly result in an improvement in service. Don't hold your breath though!

 

i agree. write a letter. it will make you feel better and it is the right thing to do.

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I believe in showing kindness to others and that doing so will spread a wave of good feeling throughout those we are in contact with. Every kindness you show will, even in small ways, be paid forwards and lead to a better & more caring world.

 

 

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You are right, Swimmer. It just made me feel better. Sorry if I offended you. Was something I should have said to my close friends and not on a public posting board! Your attitude is far healthier - save for the snobby label.

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BTW - writing a letter of complaint in German which can be taken seriously would take me around 50 times longer than posting on TT.

 

In other words there was also a language barrier issue when you bought your ticket.

 

 

We were headed to Rome and thought 2 hours was more than enough time. We had to pay an additional 500 Eur to book another flight and when we wrote an email to DB to complain they basically said "tough cookie."

 

Who would pay up if you'd driven there but got stuck in a traffic jam? DB will in fact refund you 25% of your fare after 1 hour and 50% after 2, but no-one's going to pay for your missed flight.

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It's just annoying that this snitchy bitchy ruined my morning.

 

The question is why do you let her ruin your morning? Another thing to bear in mind is that we don't always know what is up with service people, how their work day is etc. Perhaps she had to deal with x customers before, some of them unfriendly//confused/impatient, remained friendly and then snapped when your turn came. Customers are not always nice either. In that case a complaint letter with repercussions would be a bit unfair, and I doubt this would motivate her to be more friendly. If the behaviour you described is her usual manner, then a complaint would be justified.

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