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I am French and ordered a "Super Sparpreis" ticket online for my child, this is a special child price since he is less than 14 years old. The ticket price is around 45 Euros. This is the first time I used The Deutsche Bahn website. The interface was not that clear and I ended confirming the reservation without changing the traveler name. So I have a ticket with my name instead of my child's name.

Is there any way to fix the ticket invalid identity?

The response from deutschebahn by e-mail seems to be some standard answer, not acknowledging that the ticket identity is just wrong, this is not a traveler change:

Unfortunately, it is not possible to change date, time, train or identity of the person travelling on a Super Sparpreis ticket once it has been purchased.

What are the risks if my child is traveling with this child ticket having his father's name instead of his name? Would the worst case scenario just be some small fine? How much would it be? Am I just out of luck and need to buy another ticket?

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    Isn't changing a name basically changing identity? – Xnero Jun 19 at 14:17
  • Do the two of you have the same surname? If not, it will likely be much harder to convince DB staff that this is not an illegal resale of a ticket. – TooTea Jun 19 at 14:57
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    What identifying document was selected for the traveler? As the conductor's only way to know the 'real name' of the traveler is via the identification document: If that happens to be one without a picture on it (i.e. a credit card) the issue will likely go unnoticed. At least I was never asked to augment my credit card with my passport/id card – Sebastian J. Jun 20 at 3:09
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    Are you travelling with your child on or is the kid travelling alone ? – Hilmar Jun 20 at 3:14
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    @Pierre does he speak English? In my experience the vast majority of DB conductors speak reasonably good English (i.e. enough to explain this situation - whether they believe the explanation is another question, but the surname being the same will certainly make that easier) – Chris H Jun 20 at 13:15
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As the standard answer states, Super Sparpreis tickets are neither refundable nor changeable. This includes the travellers name. If you're lucky, you might get a refund out of goodwill. I wouldn't count on it.

Basically your son would be dodging the fare, which would at least cost 60 €. Again, some conductors may act on goodwill if explained the issue. Again, I wouldn't count on it. On the other hand if your son has your surname, the fauxpas might go unnoticed.

Since the new ticket would come cheaper than 60 €, I suggest you buy a new one - this time for the correct name.

ps: Tickets for children are 50 % cheaper, and 90 € for a Super Sparpreis are rather much, I think. Make sure you choose the correct traveling person category.

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    With 60€ vs. 45€, I would just explain it to the inspector... at most losing 15 €. This is a case where I would in fact count on the good will of the inspector, since it is really not so uncommon that parents put their own name for their child's on the ticket. – zhantongz Jun 19 at 17:57
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    @TooTea The OP specified it was in fact a discounted fare, which shows this was a mistake of some sort rather than a simple change of mind, as the father couldn't have used the ticket either. But I wouldn't be surprised if a train guard would adopt a strict reading of the rule without trying to figure out what might have happened. – Relaxed Jun 19 at 17:59
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    @zhantongz even if the information is not that clear: the fee to pay is double the usual price, at least 60 Euro. It is not set to 60 Euro in all cases, as this would make more expensive tickets superfluous ;) – Nico Haase Jun 20 at 11:30
  • Keep in mind that the child is traveling alone and doesn't speak german. DB has thrown children out of the train at godforsaken stations before. – Christian Jun 20 at 21:03
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    @Pierre: Sorry to hear that, sometimes the DB is quite bueraucratic. – Erik Jun 23 at 13:41
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I'm not sure what you wrote the first time, but I'd recommend writing to Deutsche Bahn a time or two again. You might get someone more interested in preserving customer goodwill over an honest mistake rather than mindlessly following the rules.

Make the following points:

  • You intended to buy the ticket for your son.
  • You chose a fare appropriate for your son.
  • You didn't realize you needed to change the name until the purchase was finished.
  • If the web site language you used to buy the ticket wasn't your native language, make sure to mention that too, as it helps explain your confusion.

Above all, be polite. Remember that technically you are in the wrong and Deutsche Bahn is in the right. You made a mistake. They didn't. So be very apologetic while explaining the situation, acknowledge that you messed up, and ask if they would be kind enough to help you rectify your mistake.

None of the above is a guarantee, but it will improve your chances.

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  • "You might get someone more interested in preserving customer goodwill over an honest mistake rather than mindlessly following the rules." - without discounting the possibility that the OP may have good luck with your approach: A common assumption (without saying whether it is or is not justified) is that they are very much not "mindlessly following the rules", but that "they" (or at least the railway company) has made the rules the way they are on purpose, so it's easy for customers to accidentally get into a situation where the customers end up paying more than they had intended to. – O. R. Mapper Jun 20 at 19:44
  • Well, I live in Germany, and DB doesn't strike me as a company that pushes good customer service as a rule. But I have on rare occasion gotten a goodwill credit. Once I requested my money back on a ticket for the same day. It was a Flexpreis ticket. They deducted €19 from it, which was half the ticket price. (I have a BahnCard 50.) Thing is, nowhere in the online refund process did they say they would deduct this nor how much I would be refunded until the end when it was a done deal. When I protested, they gave me a €19 Gutschein, but were clear that it was an exception. – Kyralessa Jun 20 at 19:56
  • At least now, the DB page on change/cancellation fees lists: "Ab dem 1. Geltungstag: Umtausch oder Stornierung von Flexpreis-Tickets im Fernverkehr (ICE, IC/EC, IC Bus) gegen ein Entgelt von 19 Euro" (in English: "Starting with the first day of ticket validity: Change or cancellation of Flexpreis tickets in long-range transportation (ICE, IC/EC, IC Bus) incurs a fee of 19 Euros"). Maybe that information wasn't available back when you cancelled your ticket. – O. R. Mapper Jun 20 at 20:04
  • @O.R.Mapper It probably was, but the trouble was that it wasn't able anywhere on the screens I was canceling the ticket from. The web site told me I could refund my ticket, and guided me through the process, and then on the final page when it was done, told me I'd lost €19 from my refund. I wouldn't call it honest disclosure if I have to go to a completely different place to see that information before refunding. Obviously I wrote to DB and asked them to improve this, but I'm willing to bet they haven't. – Kyralessa Jun 21 at 11:22
  • The DB app also allows me to buy 4-ride tickets for the regional transport where I live. But unlike a paper ticket, in the app I can't specify precisely which zones I'm riding from and to, even though that's required. It uses the same to and from stations for each of the four rides. I've written to them about this, and invariably they recommended viewing their help pages to learn how to use the app properly. (Their help pages have nothing that covers this situation.) 🙄 Factor into all this the German cultural trait (remarked on by many, many others) of refusing to ever admit being wrong. – Kyralessa Jun 21 at 11:29

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