When the Bundestag decided last year that students would receive a one-off payment of 200 euros, I only caught the news in passing. Without the newsletter updates from the student representatives at my university, who kept reminding me, I would have long since forgotten about the “energy flat rate”.
In mid-February it became clear that the application for the one-off payment should soon be possible. The “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” ran the headline: “Soon there will be money for students“. My friends complained about the dubious name of the website “einmalzahlung200.de‘ funny and my mom sent me a TikTok video reminding me of the energy flat rate. Then at the latest I knew the money would come.
From Wednesday, March 15th, it was possible to apply for the one-off payment online. I wanted the stress of the easily foreseeable Crash avoid – no server can stand the flood of students who have been expecting money for months. I waited until the next day.
On the second day I tried to apply for the energy allowance. I easily received an access code and PIN via the student portal at my university, which I entered directly on the application page.
The next step should be to log in with BundID. I clicked on “Create account” and chose the electronic residence permit as identification card. BundID asked me if I had everything I needed for identification, my personal ID, the PIN for the online ID, the AusweisApp2 on my cell phone and my laptop and, of course, a smartphone or a card reader. I was redirected one more time.
The constant forwarding didn’t bother me much. In the end, everything has worked smoothly so far. I was then asked to use my cell phone as a card reader. The AusweisApp2 function did not work and my mobile phone was not recognised. The identification process ended abruptly.
I wanted to understand what went wrong and got a meticulous message.
I repeated the same process twice from the beginning. The result was the same. Not desperate yet, I went to my cell phone, turned off the WiFi and connected to the Internet via mobile data.
When I called up the website for the one-off payment, a banner was displayed: Over 400,000 students had successfully applied for the energy flat-rate. I wondered briefly – are they all computer scientists and IT specialists? Is it my fault that an actually very simple website overwhelms me?
I repeated the same process a fourth time, this time using my phone instead of my laptop. After two failed cell phone attempts, for some reason I tried it for the sixth time.
Surprisingly, it then worked. AusweisApp2 wanted me to hold my ID to my phone to scan it. I pulled my phone out of its case and scanned the ID. The phone was too slippery for me and out of sheer excitement – and of course because six tries isn’t enough – my hand slips.
After the sixth try came the seventh. As always, I started with the first step, with the university access code and PIN. By now I knew almost the first half of the 32 characters of the access code by heart. Nevertheless, I failed again, as with the first five times, because of the “unknown network error”, which I am now well acquainted with.
After another failed attempt, I was redirected back to the browser from AusweisApp2. I remembered the common definition of insanity that the internet attributes to Albert Einstein. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I gave up for the first time. The one-time payment200 and the AusweisApp2 had won.
The website for the energy flat rate now has over 750,000 successfully submitted applications (as of Friday 4:00 p.m.). The application may have been quite easy for many, but unfortunately that did not match my experience. Out of seven failed attempts, six times the fault was not mine. The eighth attempt is scheduled for Friday evening.