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Warning re. buying from Rail Europe on line

Miami Beach, Florida
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843 posts
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Warning re. buying from Rail Europe on line

My daughter called today in distress. She'd bought a London-Liverpool train ticket on line using her debit card (always a bad idea when buying ANYTHING related to travel on line) through Rail Europe's US office while still in the US, and she had a printout of their e mail. When she got to the station in London, even though she had the printout confirmation, they wouldn't let her board without the "reference number," which she did not have. She had to buy another ticket, also using her debitcard, as she doesn't have a creditcard. She called her bank. and they wouldn't let her dispute either charge.

She'd been told previously, when traveling by train or bus overseas, buy your ticket at the station!

She has evidence of having purchased a ticket twice for the same train, same date, same time. If she can't get it resolved on her return, I'm suggesting she take it to small claims court.

Travel industry trolls and flacks, I'm not interested in your comments and am not checking "get notified by e mail when a reply is posted." This is what happened and you have been warned. Thanks for your attention.

Brno, Czech Republic
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for Czech Republic, Slovakia, Train Travel
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1. Re: Warning re. buying from Rail Europe on line

For anybody else reading this, Just to re-iterate: NEVER use Rail Europe - it is a rip-off!

And for future reference when purchasing tickets in the UK, there are several authorised outlets, e.g. …nationalrail.co.uk/service/farefinder/search - all charge the same price as they are not allowed to undercut each other by law.

Otherwise it is a bit of a Byzantine system, and one which I have never quite got my head around - but buying tickets for inter-city trains on the day is generally pretty expensive.

Hopefully something comes of your complaint.

Quainton, United...
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2. Re: Warning re. buying from Rail Europe on line

Hmmm...

We're not being given the full story here, I think.

You don't board a train with an email or even a reference number. You have to get the ticket first. Normally, you go to a self service machine, touch 'collect tickets' on the screen put the credit or debit card used to make the booking and your ticket is immediately automatically printed even without entering any details as it recognises the card number. If it's not chip n PIN, maybe you have to go to the ticket counter and quote the reference number. But surely the confirmation email gave the booking reference? They always do. And instructions for getting the ticket.

But yes, the golden rule for trains in the UK and Europe is, always cut out the middle man and book direct with the operator.

In this case, www.Virgintrains.co.UK or www.eastcoast.co.UK or any other UK train operator. They all sell all tickets for all UK train operators for all routes at the same prices (in fact, East Coast give an extra 10% off their own advance fares, on their London York Edinburgh route which is worth knowing! Undercutting isn't illegal, charging more than the official price is - until 2007 I was the Man from the Ministry managing the government's team who regulated these issues!)

Edited: 25 June 2011, 15:02
Brno, Czech Republic
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for Czech Republic, Slovakia, Train Travel
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3. Re: Warning re. buying from Rail Europe on line

I knew there was something either way - whatever, it is enough to dissuade me from using trains in the UK! We used to do it all the time years ago with my family when I was a child (in the days of family railcards, etc), but the last couple of times it has just been a nightmare.

Albufeira, Portugal
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4. Re: Warning re. buying from Rail Europe on line

I booked advance tickets with First Great Western on line from home in Portugal to use when I was in UK over Easter this year. No problems whatever. Taunton to Gatwick Airport for £14! The confirmation email quoted the booking reference number. On a previous visit the ticket machine at my starting station was out of order (it had been attacked by thieves!) the ticket clerk was happy to retrieve my ticket from the system.

As the Man in Seat 61 and others here keep on saying, don't use Rail Europe. They are a ticket selling agency and if there is anything amiss the local train operator, whether it is in the UK or anywhere else, will have little or no sympathy with you.

Buying tickets at the station on the day for long distance travel in almost all Western European countries can be incredibly expensive. In the UK, Germany and one or two others where reservation is not compulsory there is not even the guarantee of a seat.

5. Re: Warning re. buying from Rail Europe on line

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