On 4th June 2015 – as so often – I took the train from Berlin Hbf to Bruxelles-Midi, changing in Köln. The difference from my usual trips on this route was that I booked only on 26th May, only 8 days ahead, and no Deutsche Bahn Sparpreis tickets were available when I searched. I was only offered the Normalpreis of €120,70*.
Not to be deterred, I checked if a Sparpreis was available for any part of the trip. It turned out there was a Sparpreis for Berlin – Köln, and not for Köln – Bruxelles. So I booked DB ICE 654 Berlin Hbf – Köln Hbf for €61,25 Sparpreis and DB ICE 16 Köln Hbf – Bruxelles-Midi for €40,50 Normalpreis, and booked these parts separately as there is no way to book them together. Total: €101,75.
The problem then was the Berlin – Köln ICE 654 was delayed, meaning I missed my connection onto ICE 16 in Köln. I had to wait in Köln Hbf for the next connection, an hour later, and arrived in Bruxelles-Midi with an hour of delay. An hour of delay normally entitles one to 25% compensation.
Deutsche Bahn today replied to my request for compensation, and has refused compensation completely. The (partially redacted) tickets and letters can be found here for ICE 654 and ICE 16, and this is the key paragraph in DB’s response:
So – despite both trains being run by DB, and despite there being no way for me to book a Sparpreis + Normalpreis ticket in one booking, and me having left more than enough time for the connection in Köln – DB refuses to reimburse me 25% of the total ticket price.
I wonder what would have happened if I’d booked a Thalys rather than the ICE 16 to Brussels, because DB now refuses altogether to sell tickets for Thalys – no passenger can possibly have a through ticket on that service.
Ideas about what to do about this situation, and reflections about whether this is all fair or not, are most welcome in the comments. The essence, I think, is this: should I have to pay more (i.e. a Normalpreis for my complete journey) in order to be entitled to compensation?
* – all prices are with a BahnCard 25.