The German Air Consumer Ombudsman “Schlichtungsstelle fuer öffentlichen Personenverkehr e.V.” which we have recommended on multiple occasions once again has an extensive 3+ Months backlog to process filed claims.
It’s often recommended to use a mediation process instead of giving the case to an attorney or one of the claim services since those take a cut of the compensation due while mediation is for free.
We have featured several successful cases over the years that were mediated by the German Ombudsman SÖP (access their website here) and have recommended the service to many of our readers when they ran into issues, especially with Germany based Airlines Lufthansa & the now defunct Air Berlin or cases where the claimant has a connection to Germany be it as a resident or if the flight ended/originated there.
We now received knowledge of a few cases that have been filed with the Ombudsman several months ago and that haven’t even been touched by the responsible team for processing.
I had also filed a claim with the SÖP in January and was already advised that processing would take three months. Now after the three months have passed I inquired what’s going on with the claim and received a message that due to the backlog stemming from 2018 they can’t even say when the case will eventually be processed.
… Das außergewöhnlich hohe Fallaufkommen im Jahr 2018 führt weiterhin zu verlängerten Bearbeitungszeiten, wovon leider auch Ihr Schlichtungsantrag betroffen ist.
Wir bitten Sie daher noch um Geduld. Um uns auf die inhaltliche Fallbearbeitung zu konzentrieren, können wir weitere Sachstandsanfragen nicht mehr beantworten. Selbstverständlich werden Sie aber von uns unaufgefordert benachrichtigt, sobald es Neuigkeiten gibt.
Sollten Sie Ihre Forderung auf anderem Weg weiter verfolgen wollen und Ihren Schlichtungsantrag zurücknehmen, geben Sie uns bitte eine entsprechende Rückmeldung. …
Basically they say if I want to pursue the matter in a different way such as hiring a personal attorney they can abort my claim. While the ombudsman process is ongoing the airline refuses any contact with the customer which means if the processing time becomes too much of a pain then you have to actively withdraw your claim with them and then give it to a lawyer.
They have a huge amount cases to process but the statue of limitations won’t expire in the meanwhile since the complaint has already been lodged.
It seems that the ombudsman now takes forever and I’m not sure if that’s really worth the wait. I have recommended that several reader withdraw their claim and consider hiring an attorney or just use a claim service unless one wants to wait much longer. For the time being, I can’t recommend to use this service any longer as it’s simply not practical to have this hovering around for half a year.
If the monetary amount of compensation in a particular case isn’t that high maybe it’s better to just give it into professional hands to have it processed expediently. The cut that claim services take is around 25-30% so one has to decide if it’s worth it. An attorney usually recoups their fees from the airline while the claim services make the customer pay.