Au Revoir our Loud!
My Family and I recently took a trip from London to Paris and Amsterdam by train. Let me first declare an interest as I own a 5* hotel in Cape Town called Cape Royale so I normally travel with luxury and limo!
On this occasion I wanted to give my children an education in normal travel so we went by train and subway. We left London on Euro Tunnel in style after waiting in the lounge! After a wonderful experience we arrived in Paris. First problem…no lifts so we had to lug our suitcases …on wheels…up the stairs. We take a subway to the station ‘Tuileries’ of our Hotel called ‘Hotel Des Tuileries’ . Took us ages to get a taxi, who took us for E12 to our hotel, we were so pleased I gave him E20. We checked into the hotel for our suite of adjoining rooms. The suitcases..one each..took up half the room and the small beds the other half!!..however my boys are now getting good education to check out the hotel better before booking…so no problems. Then we go for a local familiarization as we are staying three days only to find that the taxi had ripped us off as the subway Tuileries was only 60 meters away!!!
We enjoyed our three days and learned that at every opportunity there was a North African trying to rip us off….always check that your restaurant bill is only for items you ordered.
Upon check out at Hotel Des Tuileries’ the ‘included breakfast’ became an extra whether we used it or not. What do you do…by this stage we were fed up at being ripped off at every turn that ‘I refused to pay’ WOW this guy started bellowing at the top of his voice saying that we are not being ‘ripped off’ words that I did use. To avoid virtual assault I paid it…another lesson for the boys…get it in writing at check in!!
The taxi to Paris Nord was a relief as we felt like besieged people finally making our escape.
Then we get on the train with THALYS. My email sent to them on July 9th 2010 was as follows:
We travelled by SNCF Thalys from Paris-Nord to Amsterdam on July 3rd 2010, scheduled to depart at 10.25.We were 2 adults and three children on the following tickets:
Adult 1 186510232629/08710224810831 seat 72 Eur 199.00
Adult 2 186510232512/08710224810820 seat 73 Eur 199.00
Child 1 186510232843/08710224810853 seat 76 Eur 39.00
Child 2 186510232959/08710224810864 seat 74 Eur. 39.00
Child 3 186510232736/08710224810842 seat 75 Eur. Total Eur 515.00
This amount was paid by credit card VISA xxx xxx xxx xxx exp 04/13
We arrived at the station early and booked our tickets and seats. The train was delayed due to poor weather.
When we boarded there we other passengers seated in our seats. We politely requested that they would move and they refused. They said that other passengers were seated in their seats and if we got them to change they would then move! We travelled first class because my wife and I both have bad backs due to injury. There was much commotion and a number of people fighting over seats. My wife stood in the corridor, I stood in the carriage and our children sat on the floor all the way to Brussels.
Many people let the train at Brussels; however the people refused to leave our seats. When the train manager came around I asked him politely to allow us sit together in our booked seats. He refused to assist and when I asked him his name he said if I asked again he would make us leave the train in Antwerp!
Apart from the late arrival in Amsterdam, which we understood, this was an appalling journey where you management refused to care for us properly.
In the circumstances we believe that we are due a refund.
We hold the tickets and payment conformation should they be required.
Today, over six weeks later I receive the following reply
From: Customer Service Thalys [mailto:English.SC@thalys.com]
Sent: Friday, August 27, 2010 4:22 PM
To: xxxxxx xxxxx
Subject: RE: Request for Refund.
You contacted us in order to inform us about your dissatisfaction in regards to a delay which you encountered on board of Thalys and the poor travelling conditions on July 3, 2010. I have carefully read your letter and wish to give you an explanation which is as complete as possible.
First of all I wish to offer you our apologies for the inconveniences which this delay caused you. I am aware that every delay, no matter how long and no matter which cause, causes you important inconveniences, especially regarding to seating, and I deeply regret this. Although our rolling stock is adapted to rough weather, the storms of early July has caused great disruption to our train service.
In order not to disappoint our customers, we have decided not to suspend all our trains, but there were inconveniences and delays. These bad weather conditions, which we do not control, constitute a case of force majeure. Consequently, although I deeply regret this, I cannot give a positive answer to your request.
I will transfer your remarks about the lack of assistance by the staff to the staff’s supervisor to ensure better service in such a case in the future. Please be assured that usually all year long our staff on board as well as in the stations do their utmost to guarantee that you travel as comfortably as possible.
With kind regards.
Thalys Customer Service Officer
1050 Bruxelles 5
Our Lesson: Paris is going through some cultural aberration; they are sullen, arrogant, are unwelcoming and hate tourists. The place is filthy and everybody appears to be maximize the amount they can take from you NOW, and to hell with tomorrow. For us it was not worth it to experience their cultural splendors.
Avoid Paris and perhaps they will get the message and sort themselves out.
We are back in beautiful Cape Town, which really is the opposite to our Parisian experience.
As for Thalys, in true Parisian style…take our money but do not deliver the service and then blame a French expression ‘force majeure’. In a normal country, if you had the determination, you could sue, however French society is this way, so guess what the Judge would decide!!!!