Reader Question: Mediation Case With German Air Consumer Ombudsman Office SÖP Pending For 7+ Months

One of our readers has a problem with the German Air Consumer Ombudsman “Schlichtungsstelle fuer öffentlichen Personenverkehr e.V.” which we have recommended on multiple occasions.

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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.

I’ve covered their backlogs previously and based on what the SÖP says this is usually related to an increased caseload due to Lufthansa strikes in Germany. However the last one was late 2018 and since then the Ombudsman has apparently not done anything with the cases it has shelved.

Oliver from Hamburg wrote me that he filed a case with the SÖP in the second week of January and the ombudsman has not even initiated the first phase of his case. He already contacted them twice in a 2 month interval, but they keep telling him off:

… auch wenn Ihre Ungeduld verständlich ist, können wir Ihnen leider keinen konkreten Zeitrahmen nennen, wann Ihr Schlichtungsantrag abschließend bearbeitet sein wird. Das hohe Fallaufkommen führt nach wie vor zur verlängerten Bearbeitungszeiten. Seien Sie aber versichert, dass wir Ihren Antrag – vorausgesetzt, Sie ziehen diesen nicht zurück – auf jeden Fall abschließend bearbeiten werden.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Elisabeth G.

He said that, without giving any timeline their response keeps talking about a large case load and that they will keep processing the case as time permits unless I withdraw it and pursue the matter on my own through an attorney.

It doesn’t make any sense as to why they can’t initiate case proceedings over a 7 month period and instead reply to requests about the case status with a non-descript email. There isn’t even a regular update, just silence.

Conclusion

It seems that the ombudsman now takes forever and I’m not sure if that’s really worth the wait. I have recommended several readers to 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.

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