What happens when the ticket machine swallows a note?

A ticket machine in OberurselI was on my way back from the Oberursel Christmas Market a few weeks ago, when I encountered a problem at the U-Bahn station.

Having given most of my small change to the street vendors at the market, I tried to pay for my ticket home with a 5 Euro note.

Except that the ticket machine on the side of the tracks going in my direction did not accept notes!  This is a ridiculous situation, considering that the station was re-built within the past year.

With only a few minutes to go until the train arrived, I dashed back across the crossing to the other side to buy my ticket.  Only for the ticket machine to swallow my 5 Euro note.

Knowing that I was not going to be able to do anything about it in time, I watched the train come and go and called the telephone number displayed on the machine to report my problem.

It wasn’t exactly a “we can’t do anything about it” answer, they told me to alert the driver of the next train to my situation and then to buy a ticket with another note when I disembarked at the end of my journey.  They would make a note of the problem and once the machine had been emptied and my 5 Euros recovered, I could collect them at either the Hauptwache or Konstablerwache stations in Frankfurt.

Or to put it another way, I would have to pay for a return journey to Frankfurt to recover my loss.  Since a day ticket to Frankfurt costs almost 10 Euros, that was not really going to be a viable solution for me, unless I was going there anyway.

I pointed this out, and then came the “we can’t do anything about it” answer.  Apparently this is the only place on the entire RMV network that such refunds are given, dispite having numerous ticket-selling agencies throughout the region.  I was then given a number to ring on Monday morning, to discuss this further…

By now the next train had been cancelled due to an incident in Frankfurt, so faced with a 50 minute wait I walk back towards the town to by something to eat and get some small change in the process, then I bought a ticket and eventually travelled home (and spent the time inbetween stopping other people putting notes into the machine and suffering the same fate!)

The next train was cancelled

On Monday morning I rang the number I had been given, which turned out to be the VGF who run the U-Bahn, and explained my problem.  They asked for my address, and said that they would return the 5 Euros to me by registered post.

And sure enough, the next day I received a 5 Euro note in the post!  How’s about that for service?

5 Euros arrived by registered post


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About Graham

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Germany as a placement student in 1993, returning in 1995 to live there permanently. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche and other publications he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.


  1. Pretty good – though they could have given you a free ticket to compensate you for the inconvenience, the cost of your phone calls and the fact that you got home much later than you would, had their machine been working in the first place…

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