My dealings with Köln Ticket (or DerTicketService.de)
I have rambled on a lot recently about companies that I wouldn’t bother to deal with again; STA Travel, Leisure Connection and Play.com, but more recently, problems have also been experienced with a German company called Köln Ticket (also known as Der Ticket Service).
For Christmas last year, I decided to buy my parents a short break to Frankfurt in Germany, which wasn’t especially cheap; flights with British Airways, a four-star hotel in the city centre and tickets to see André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra at the Frankfurt Festhalle. That concert was scheduled for 29 February 2012.
Much to their disappointment (and mine), the concert was cancelled on 23 February with the email explaining “Andre Rieu has been certified unfit for the concerts in Stuttgart, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt by his doctor”. It was a shame that the trip was not going to go ahead quite as planned and my parents now had a purposeless trip to make. The email went on to explain that a new date would be announced in the coming days and tickets would be refunded if the new date was not convenient.
The new date of 11 October 2012 was announced four days after receiving the cancellation email, and, of course, it wasn’t convenient. My parents had no plans to be in Germany on that date and paying for another trip to Germany made no sense at all. The instructions in the email were followed and the tickets were sent back days later – at a cost of £5.63! It was important that the tickets were signed for on delivery, just to ensure that nobody could claim that they had never been received.
According to Royal Mail, the tickets were delivered to Köln Ticket just six days after sending, and I waited for my refund to be processed. Weeks later, I had received no correspondence from the company and my money had still not been returned to me. Dealing with a German company was almost certainly going to be an impossible task and I didn’t expect my abrupt email (written in English) to be completely understood, but it was. Sort of.
The two line response explained that the tickets had not been received and that without them, my money could not be returned. In my response, I included a scan of my post office receipt and a screenshot of the Royal Mail website, which confirmed that the tickets had been delivered in Germany on the specified date. The same response came back – the tickets had not been received and I could not get a refund.
The already disappointing situation became even more disappointing. First, a cancelled concert and now the risk of losing rather a lot of money (around €150) because the tickets had apparently not been received at Köln Ticket’s office in Germany. Köln Ticket hadn’t received them but Royal Mail (and their equivalent in Germany) claimed that they had been delivered. It was a frustrating situation to be in.
Giving up with the organiser, I decided to approach André Rieu himself (or rather his administrative people) and they were not an easy bunch to contact. Without a postal or email address published on his website, I decided to ramble on about my dissatisfaction on his guestbook. My post obviously wasn’t published but I did received a response from a lady in Andre’s ‘Legal Affairs’ department and she told me that she would pass my complaint to the concert promoter – Roland Temme Gruppe.
A prompt reply was received and the gentleman contacting me asked for as much information as possible, which I just as quickly provided; the receipt for my concert tickets, my proof of posting and copies of my email correspondence with Köln Ticket. That was the last I heard.
For all sorts of reasons, I really wish that I did not purchase these tickets. Firstly, dealing with a non-English speaking company is impossible (especially when you run into difficulties). Secondly, should I ever be refunded the cost of the tickets, I will be out of pocket; €10.00 ticket delivery charge, the £5.63 spent on sending these tickets back, the £7.00 my bank is going to charge me for receiving the refund and the less favourable bank buying rate that will be used to convert Euros into Sterling.
Royal Mail also deserve to be criticised for their part in this matter. It was emphasised when sending the tickets at my local Post Office in Winnersh that the envelope must be signed for upon receipt – which presumably explains the extortionate £5.63 fee. After contacting Royal Mail to ask for a copy of the receiving person’s signature, I am told that I must complete a P58 form and return it to them by post. If they can tell me on their website that my tickets have been delivered (and even provide me with the date of delivery), then why can they not provide me with a signature or at least a name of the person who signed for them? Without holding this information, how they can they be so sure that an item of mail has been delivered? For a premium delivery service, this is a really quite sloppy process!