Eurostar’s customer service has gone off the rails

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I was due to travel from London St Pancras to Paris for a three-day trip in July. The Eurostar train left an hour late, then broke down before it reached the Channel tunnel. We were stuck on board in stifling heat with no updates, no electricity and no air con for over an hour, before the train returned to St Pancras. There was no apology, or service information from Eurostar. At St Pancras, we were told to rebook a seat on the app, or join a huge queue at the ticket office. The app kept flashing error messages and was impossible to use. At 4pm, six hours after our original departure time, a staff member told me there were no seats available that day and we should make our own way to Paris. I ended up returning home and abandoning the trip.

Eurostar has given me a time-limited e-voucher in exchange for my ticket, instead of a refund. And my travel insurer, Holidaysafe, is refusing to pay for the cost of the hotel I’d booked in Paris, without a letter from Eurostar explaining the cause and length of the delay. I’ve provided a flyer which Eurostar staff distributed to passengers confirming the service had been cancelled. It claims it can’t contact Eurostar direct because of data protection. Eurostar is not replying.
RS, Letchworth Garden City, Herts

Eurostar appears to have lost its grip on communications – 82% of customers on review website Trustpilot rate it as bad, and unresponsive customer service is the common theme. The company rolled out the favourite new corporate excuse when I asked why: the blame, it claims, lies squarely with Covid. Its contact centre is apparently still reeling from unprecedented call volumes during the lockdowns, and it is aware passengers are facing long waits to get through. What’s its solution? To withdraw its helpline so customers can no longer clog it up with their queries. Or, as Eurostar puts it, so that it can deal with the “existing build-up of inquiries and better prioritise urgent cases”.

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Complainants must, therefore, wait for Eurostar to respond to online complaints at its leisure, and the 1.7 million households in the UK who don’t have internet access, are stuffed. Magnanimously, the company tells me that, although it does not usually offer refunds on the e-vouchers which it encourages customers to accept when a service is cancelled, it will do so in your case. It also promised to provide the required information to Holidaysafe.

Holidaysafe’s interpretation of customer service is equally dispiriting. The claim that confirming a cancellation with a train company is a breach of data protection is baloney. It says: “We have asked our insurer to reconsider the claim due to the circumstances, and we’re happy to say it has now agreed to accept the available information to confirm the delay was more than 12 hours, and to pay out for lost accommodation in Paris. We’d like to apologise for the delay in getting the claim settled.”

Eurostar has since sent the cash, but two weeks after Holidaysafe’s apology, it has still not paid up.

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