Transport: Consumer advocates are suing Deutsche Bahn over Bahncard rules

Consumer advocates have filed a lawsuit against Deutsche Bahn because, in their view, the notice period for Bahncards is inadmissible.

Transport: Consumer advocates are suing Deutsche Bahn over Bahncard rules

Consumer advocates have filed a lawsuit against Deutsche Bahn because, in their view, the notice period for Bahncards is inadmissible. The company is violating a law that is actually intended to enable consumers to get out of long-term contracts more easily, said legal expert Dirk Weinsheimer from the Thuringia Consumer Center. Specifically, a trial Bahncard cannot automatically be converted into a one-year Bahncard 25 or 50. In addition, this must then be terminable within four weeks and not just at the end of the one-year term.

Impact on thousands of Bahncard subscriptions

The Frankfurt Higher Regional Court confirmed receipt of a corresponding lawsuit against DB Fernverkehr. A hearing is scheduled for June. “The court’s decision is likely to have an impact on thousands of Bahncard subscriptions,” said Weinsheimer. Anyone who now uses the Deutschlandticket and realizes that they no longer need long-distance journeys could be very interested in canceling their Bahncard. Legal certainty should now be created - in case of doubt also at the Federal Court of Justice. When asked, the railway initially did not comment on the case. A railway spokeswoman said that the Thuringia consumer advice center has not yet received a complaint and is therefore unable to comment on this at the moment.

Previously, a trial rail card could be canceled up to six weeks before the end of the three-month term. This period has now been shortened to four weeks. But that is not legally secure, said Weinsheimer. If consumers do not cancel in time, the trial subscription will be converted into a normal Bahncard. This can currently be canceled up to six weeks before the end of the one-year term. From the perspective of consumer advocates, this involves a connection contract that, according to the law, must be terminable every month.

The railway pointed out that the conditions of the trial rail card were described transparently in the offer and the general terms and conditions.

Cancellation now possible - but with risk

Weinsheimer said that those affected could terminate their contract now. The termination will probably be rejected - if you no longer use your Bahncard until the legal situation has been clarified, you may be entitled to a refund. But that is legally complicated. Stopping payments for the Bahncard immediately is not advisable.

Specifically, it is about a law that came into force in March 2022. Accordingly, subscription contracts can be canceled with one month's notice after the minimum term has expired. “The railway is of the opinion that this does not apply to the Bahncard,” said Weinsheimer. Basically, the company argues that its conditions of transport have been officially checked. But that is no indication that they are correct.

In addition, the BGH determined over ten years ago that the Bahncard was a discount agreement and not a long-term obligation, which is what the law is actually aimed at. However, the BGH decision was made before the law, explains Weinsheimer. "We believe that the legislator's intention for the Bahncard still applies."

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