Q: I booked four first-class train tickets from London to Paris for me, my daughter and my two grandchildren for $684. As we were standing in line to board, Eurostar inexplicably canceled the train and closed the train station office. Chaos ensued.
A Eurostar agent told me that for future travel, I needed to book new tickets online, which I did. I paid $1,119 for the new tickets. A representative also promised that we would be reimbursed for our hotel room and food.
I can’t get Eurostar to refund the $1,119, and at this point, I don’t really care about the room or breakfast. But it would be nice. I was also paying for two nonrefundable rooms in Paris!
No one from Eurostar will answer my e-mails. I would like to have the new train tickets, our London hotel room and our breakfast refunded to my American Express account. In a perfect world, I also would like my two nonrefundable rooms in Paris refunded. Can you help?
A: How frustrating. Eurostar may have had a valid reason for canceling your train, but it didn’t bother sharing that with you; it just left you stranded in London. You also shouldn’t have had to buy a new ticket.
How do I know? Because Eurostar’s obligations to you are outlined in its conditions of carriage, the legal agreement between you and the operator, at eurostar.com.
Eurostar should have issued a new ticket to allow you to complete your journey at a later date, up to a year later (see section 32.4).
For your delay, which exceeded 180 minutes, Eurostar should have either refunded 50 percent of the fare or issued an e-voucher for 75 percent of the fare (see section 33.2.3).
There’s no provision for refunding a hotel or breakfast, although section 32.5 notes that delay compensation “may include the provision of refreshments and meals where available.”
If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, you can fire up your smartphone and find the entire contract on the Eurostar site. Doing that would have saved you a lot of trouble.
My review of your paper trail between you and Eurostar suggests that you were having some trouble accessing the right form and uploading documents. Maybe that’s something Eurostar should look into, in case there are other unhappy customers like you out there.
I contacted Eurostar on your behalf. A representative agreed that you were entitled to a full refund of your canceled tickets. Eurostar also refunded your new tickets and took care of your expenses.
That journey from London to Paris through the Chunnel is amazing and should be on everyone’s bucket list. I had the privilege of taking the high-speed train when it first opened. There’s no better way to get from London to Paris.
Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. Read more tips on his blog, elliott.org, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.