I got a ticket in Germany for not paying for a tank of gas. The cashier didn't understand that I had gas to pay for, and just charged us for the snacks I brought to the cashier. I didn't notice the difference, didn't get a receipt, and two months later I get a nasty gram from Germany, alles auf Deutsch, saying I stole the tank of gas and should pay for it, plus a 100 Euro fee! The gas was also exorbitant: 63 Euro.

So, I'm a little embarrassed, but also a bit annoyed. I'd be happy to pay for the gas as a simple mistake, but my bank also charges huge fees ($35) to wire money, which is how the gas station wants their money sent. Plus, I don't think it's fair to charge 100 Euro for something I think is their fault. Not mine.

So, I'm thinking of just paying the for the gas ... just wondering if others have encountered this. I know that a speeding ticket like this is less severe with a similar problem in paying (I've had that happen to me too, and just ignored it) ... but just wondering what they could do if they don't agree voluntarily to waive this fee (I've asked: they refuse, with typical German self-righteousness)?

Thanks for any thoughts ... Dan

  • 9
    €63 doesn't seem exorbitant. Regular gas can cost around 1.40€-1.55€/L. A full fillup on the order of 50L (13 gallons) could easily cost more than that. Gas is much more expensive in Europe than it is in, say, the US. Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 21:16
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the question is not in the scope of this site; it is about evading penalties for criminal activities.
    – Calchas
    Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 21:16
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    They probably don't believe that you didn't notice that you were paying only €5-10 instead of €70-75.
    – shoover
    Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 21:45
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    Honestly, €100 extra for theft strikes me as a fairly decent deal. It's a whole lot cheaper than you'd end up paying in costs if you were arrested, needed a lawyer, court, etc... Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 22:00
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    Welcome to travel.stackexchange!
    – ajd
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 0:00

2 Answers 2


63€ for gasoline seems right in this part of the world, and for 63€ to become an unnoticeable difference, you would have had to buy snakcs for several hundred €'s, that's a lot, so you really should have noticed, so for all practical purposes you did commit a crime.

I don't know the German level for typical fines, but I think 100€ sounds cheap.

So you really should just pay the 163€, and if your bank charges you too much for that, well that's something you'll have to discuss with them, it really doesn't concern the case.

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    €63 is a noticeable difference in cash. If paying by card it's an easier mistake to make, just failing to read the amount being asked for.
    – djr
    Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 23:08
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    Right, but doesn't this case serve as an argument that you need to read how much you're being charged when paying by card? Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 7:19

You might be guilty of theft or fraud by taking the gas without paying. The station could have filed criminal charges and you would get a chance to argue your viewpoint that it is all their fault in court. (Or you could have ignored the summons. Could be trouble on your next visit ...)

Instead they decided to send you an invoice for the debt, with collection fees and possibly late payment fees added to the amount.

Take a guess, how many hours would their lawyers and clerks need to determine that it was you who left without paying for the gas and not some other customer, and where you live, and to prepare the letters? One hour, two, three? Guess what their hourly rate would be, and add taxes and overhead. While some debt collection agencies try to charge excessive fees, in a case like this the amount isn't outrageous.

You can try to pay the principal claim only, and ignore the fees. The gas station might then decide not to try and collect the remainder. But they might also decide to follow it, and add more fees with each attempt to collect.

Let me note that yes, gas is that expensive in Germany, and prices are posted at each gas station. Mixing the two complaints won't get you any sympathy from the gas station or in court.

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