“I think they’re being needlessly greedy”

Eurostar / Photo by 10 Italia – Flickr Creative Commons
A date on a ticket can be a small but important detail. And no place is that more true than in Europe, where dates have a way of getting reversed.

What do I mean?

Well, we in the States might write Sept. 17 as 9/17/12, right? In Europe, it’s 17-09-12.

But what if you’re traveling on Sept. 8, and the ticket says 8/9 – or wait, is it 9/8?

Oh no! When, exactly, is that ticket for?

That’s the problem Victor Strasburger had with his bullet train tickets from London to Luxembourg. (If you think airline tickets have onerous terms, try the European train.)

“I had an invitation in July to speak at a medical conference. I booked my ticket in advance on Eurostar,” he said. “The conference organizers changed the date I was speaking. I dutifully paid a whole lot of money to buy another ticket on Eurostar — my fault, not theirs.”

But when Strasburger made the switch, he got confused. He paid $784 for tickets on July 6th, but his travel date was on the 8th.

“Eurostar’s online system is not foolproof,” he told me. “You are easily confused.”

By the way, I just tried to make a reservation via the Eurostar site. If you tell the site you’re originating in the UK, here’s the date format.

When he showed up for his train in London, he had to buy new tickets – yet again. In effect, he paid for his tickets three times.

Appeals to Eurostar were unsuccessful. The company blamed his glitch on his home computer and the way in which the tickets printed. Here’s the form letter it sent him.

Print at Home tickets are designed to clearly show the dates of travel so as to avoid confusion.

We are unfortunately not responsible for how your home printed renders these said tickets. If the print out was hard to read this is in no way associated with the quality of the PDF sent.

Furthermore, the non-refundable and non-exchangeable conditions associated with your tickets mean we are unable to offer a refund.

Apologies for not being in a position to assist.

Strasburger is disappointed with Eurostar’s refusal.

“I think they’re being needlessly greedy — even more so than U.S. airlines,” he said. “This was a honest mistake, and even if it weren’t, they should at least allow re-use with a penalty fee.”

I agree, this seems like a needlessly harsh response to an honest mistake. I’m not sure how to handle this case, though. On the one hand, Eurostar’s rules are unambiguous.

On the flip side, anyone could have been confused by the European vs. American date format or the confusing printout (take your pick, but my guess is that it was a date formatting issue.)

Should I ask Eurostar to review this case, or is this going to be an expensive lesson learned for Strasburger?

Update (Sept. 18): I contacted Eurostar and asked about Strasburger’s case. I admit, this was a long shot. Here’s what it said:

It seems that the issue Dr Strasburger and his wife encountered boils down to two key points – the clarity of the journey date when making a booking, and the clarity of information on our tickets. As the confusion was whether the journey was booked for the 6th or 8th of September, I don’t feel that the issue of American vs European date format is relevant, since this would imply some confusion over the month, not day.

With regard to the first key point on the clarity of the journey date when booking, I can see that Dr Strasburger’s booking was made online via our website. Our website uses a pop-up calendar when choosing dates – as you show on your blog – so picking the correct date should be fairly straightforward, regardless of the format to which the person making the booking is accustomed.

During the booking process, both prior to and after payment is made, the date is confirmed several times. An email confirmation is then sent, which again confirms the date of travel and other journey information. It is also displayed on the tickets, which customers are encouraged to check before travel.

Ultimately, the person making the booking has to take responsibility for choosing the correct date, and then communicate any necessary information (such as journey date and time) to those travelling.

Regarding the clarity of information on our tickets, I have attached an example for you. You can see that the various information given is legible, and in the case of any numbers, distinguishable from one to another. It is worth emphasising the point that communicating the correct travel date to Mrs Strasburger was not the responsibility of Eurostar. Providing clear information on our website and tickets certainly is our responsibility, but I feel that we have fulfilled this part of the bargain.

Although I have genuine sympathy for the additional cost which Dr Strasburger has incurred, I hope that the information above makes clear the reasons why we will not be able to offer anything in this case.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • technomage1

    I’ve looked at Eurostar’s website. In order to book the tickets, the customer selects the date box and a pop up calendar appears, so there is no way to confuse the DD/MM and MM/DD formats there. It’s obvious he confused the dates but I do not believe, given what I saw on the website, that Eurostar is responsible for that.

  • Michelle C

    I say yes, mediate. Maybe he will get lucky. Is he entitled to it? No, but a lucky break every now and then is a good thing and you are probably his best chance at getting a refund.

  • sdir1

    What is the purpose of pointing out how the European date format might be confusing for Americans? From what I can tell, it has nothing to do with this case. He didn’t transpose numbers, he selected the 8th instead of the 6th. Strasburger says you are easily confused by Eurostar’s website, yet I went online and you can click the calender and make your selection. This is no more confusing than any other travel website.

    In what way was Eurostar’s response “harsh”? They held a seat and can no longer sell it. Their response was polite and explained why their website & confirmation was not easily confusing as Strasburger claimed. Instead of throwing around blame, Strasburger should accept responsibility that he didn’t double-check the booking and has learned an expensive lesson.

  • Dutchess

    This is yet another case of someone who made a mistake and is whining to Chris to fix their error. Yes, they had to purchase a second ticket, yes it’s unfair, yes it was an expensive mistake but what it boils down to is, who’s mistake was it? It was Mr. Strasburger’s mistake. As others have pointed out, the date system on their website is pretty foolproof.
    It’s times like these that I tend to think Chris’ time is better spent on cases where something outside the passenger’s control has occurred. It seems like this is a case of Mr Strasburger making a mistake and Mr. Strasburger thinks Eurostar may bend their rules if Chris provides them with a little bad press. Chris, don’t encourage this type of mediation, and don’t let them use you as a means to shame them publicly when they’ve done nothing wrong.

  • Dutchess

    Why? You simply encourage people to come to Chris with invalid claims in hopes that travel providers will bend the rules to avoid bad press. Chris should be here as an advocate when a consumer has been wronged through no fault of their own, not as a tool to manipulate travel providers to give a refund.

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    If it’s a particularly slow day and you’re caught up on all your Skype stuff and you want to do someone a good (but undeserved) deed, then I say go ahead and advocate (not mediate) for a partial credit. I wouldn’t spend any more than an email on it and move on. Harsh lesson. But then again, $784 seems extremely high for a train ticket between those two places. I just looked at a July weekend next year and a r/t flight is somewhere between $289 and $479.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CarverFarrow Carver Clark Farrow

    I disagree with that perspective. I think it is perfectly fine for Chris to mediate not only when the passenger has been wronged, but also when giving the passenger a break is just the plain decent thing to do.

  • plateman

    Sorry, Chris, your blog is really starting to get annoying with stupid people who can’t use/understand computers or dates in a global world, looking for ways to get out of things and using your power to do it.
    When you book on Eurostar.com, you select from a dropdown calender, that clearly shows September and date, etc. Then it even says day of week when you are in the booking menu.

  • sirwired

    If a seat went empty when he failed to show up, of COURSE they charged him again. An airline would have done the same.

    A case appropriate for mediation would have been if he noticed the mistake immediately, immediately tried to fix the problem, and EuroStar refused to budge.

    I’m also not seeing where the confusion is… no matter which way you order the numbers, it’s not for the correct date.

  • john4868

    Chris nice red herring on the date format but it is relevant here. He missed the date by two days… that has nothing to do with d/m/y vs m/d/y otherwise he would have missed it by a month or more.
    He purchased the ticket for the wrong date. It stinks but that’s what happened. It doesn’t have anything to do with the date format.
    Now if you wanted to argue on how some European websites present the week M – Sunday instead of Sunday – Sat, I might agree if he’d missed by a day but no luck there either.

    Edit: First line should read “isn’t relevant” … Ah commenting before caffine = dangerous

  • EdB

    I was just going to point out the same thing with the dates…

    “But when Strasburger made the switch, he got confused. He paid $784 for tickets on July 6th, but his travel date was on the 8th.”

    That would be 7/6 (US) or 6/7 (EU) for July 6th. 7/8 (US) or 8/7 (EU) for July 8th. Where is the confusion on the date being transposed. If I know the travel date is the 8th and I see 6/7, something should have raised a red flag.

    “The conference organizers changed the date I was speaking. I dutifully paid a whole lot of money to buy another ticket on Eurostar — my fault, not theirs.”

    This is another thing that bothered me. How is it his fault the date was changed or he had to buy another ticket because the organizers changed the date? Did he buy his ticket way too early? I would say he should be talking to the organizers to refund the money for the first ticket if they really want him to speak there.

    Because of these two things, I voted no on taking this on.

  • JenniferFinger

    I’ve often read, including here, that when you go to another place, you need to familiarize yourself with the local customs, and it seems to me that that would include the formatting of dates. Victor Strasberger should have done that before he booked any tickets. Then he’d probably have realized that Eurostar’s site is no more “confusing” than any other travel website.

  • EdB

    I agree with you on selecting the dates from popups. I haven’t gone on the site to look but I have seen on other sites with similar date selections it also allows you to enter the date manually. If that was the case and he entered it in the wrong format, I might be a bit more forgiving to the person. However, even if he entered the date manually and in the wrong format, 7/6 vs 6/7, that does not explain why he didn’t noticed there was an 8 somewhere in there if,as he says, he knew the travel date was the 8th.

  • EdB

    I disagree with that perspective. I think it would be perfectly fine for Chris to advocate with a simple email explaining it was an error on the user’s part and ask them to bend the rules in this one case and that be the end of it. I don’t think Chris should have put this out in the public though.

  • S E Tammela

    It’s not just Europe who use this date format. It’s pretty much the entire world except for you guys in America. Unfortunately, that means it’s you lot who do it the “wrong way around”. I do feel for you when there’s a confusion with dates, but most of us in the rest of the world are aware that different countries do things different ways, so we CHECK. That’s also why our websites don’t demand 5-digit postcodes and 2- letter states in addresses. Try filling in most US-based website forms and you’ll likely see that they’re quite useless for countries which don’t even have states or postcodes – but it never occurs to the US webmasters that anyone else’s address might not follow the same rules.

    They’ve intentionally put a clickable calendar here to remove the confusion. The customer made the mistake. Mistakes don’t deserve refunds just because there was a customer involved.

  • BillCCC

    I hate to say it but Fat Fingers does not equal mediate. Pay more attention the next time you book anything online.

  • MarkKelling

    First of all, how did he book a ticket to Luxembourg on the Eurostar site? I tried and the closest I can get is Brussels with an extension to any train stop in Belgium. Anything else requires buying your tickets somewhere else apparently. And it only cost 66 pounds for an economy non refundable ticket. So how did he get charged $784 unless he was buying multiple tickets for his family?

    Also, no matter how you look at it, July 6 and July 8 are not transpositions of each other when represented in numerical format.

    I booked on the site a couple years ago and didn’t really have any issues with the booking process. Where I did have an issue was with printing the PDF (which Eurostar must get a lot of complaints about since they specifically mention that in their response). I had to find a non standard PDF reader program because the Adobe reader complained that the file was corrupted.

  • technomage1

    I traveled on Eurostar in 2010. I had no problem printing and or reading the tickets from the pdf. Also, I got an email confirmation and the dates were there. So I really don’t know why he was confused.

  • flip44

    After reading the many horror stories in your columns about these such mistakes, I have learned to the extent of great anxiety in buying a ticket online from Philadephia to Mpls. Checking my input inormation over and over again
    to the point of nervous exhaustion. Every check brought me back to the original form, necessitating entertering the info again and again.
    One time I booked a hotel reservation in London, giving the date of arrival, not realizing the time difference. The clerk said he had expected me yesterday, and thus I had to pay another day rate.

    Your stories are helpful for all of us. Lessons learned.

  • MarkieA

    A perfect example of what’s wrong with folks these days. Why take responsibility for your errors when you can try and catch a “lucky break”? You do realize, of course, that a lot of these “lucky breaks” come at the expense of others, right?

  • TonyA_says

    Rubbish! He could have bought Semi-Flex or Fully-Flexible tickets if he was not sure of his dates.

  • TonyA_says

    There is a not-so fine line between mediating and bullying. Elliott must be careful not to do the latter.

  • Dutchess

    Right, if Chris does mediate this case, every sob case from here until the end of time will show up and say they have some special reason why they need the rules to be bent for them. This not only dilutes what Chris does but it also reduces his credibility in the eyes of the travel companies he deals with. The when people have real problems it reduces his effectiveness.

  • D White

    And what happened when this person tried to choose a *time* for his travel? I mean the ticket probably was for something like 16:41 or 22:53….oh NOOoooooo!!! If a gentle “nudge” to Eurostar will help this person, then do it. Perhaps it will be a lesson learned without being a bitter lesson. Obviously, Eurostar is within their rights to deny the request though.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    If I get 7/6 confused with 6/7 I’m either a month early or a month late. But I do not show up on 7/8 for my train because there isn’t even an 8 in the original date.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    If the guy had missed the train by a month (he’d have been early in this case), the “date format” excuse would have validity and then it’d be fine for Chris to try and help the poor guy out. But that’s not what happened here: the guy bought a ticket for July 6, showed up on July 8, and his excuse was he thought he’d bought a ticket for June 7. That makes no sense at all and mediating for a guy who it seems is being intentionally deceptive is bad for everybody.

  • EvilEmpryss

    I say no. See the little calendar next to the date? If you use that option you will never get confused. That’s why it’s there.

    And I agree with other repliers: 07/06 and 07/08 are completely different dates, not transposed digits. If his complaint was that he used the little calendar and the week started on Monday instead of the way the US starts it on Sunday, maybe I might be more sympathetic, but that wasn’t the case. Ensuring your dates are correct is the job of the traveler.

    I don’t know how the company could have blamed it on the PDF having printed wrong, but again if there is any problem with a ticket that wold cause it to read wrong, the traveler should be paying attention.

  • plateman

    but that is the problem recently. He has done other cases where people were stupid and look at the floodgates he has opened. Frankly, getting annoying. People are making mistakes and then look to Chris to help them avoid paying for them

  • TonyA_says

    Something is awfully wrong in this article! Eurostar does not go to Luxembourg (from London).
    If you wish to take the train from London (St Pancras QQS) to Luxembourg (Train Station), the standard route is VIA BRUSSELS Midi (ZYR) using Eurostar and then transfer to an Intercity (IC) or EuroCity (EC) train from Brussels Midi to Luxembourg. (Note there are other train routes to Luxembourg.)
    When I went to the Eurostar website, I could only buy tickets to Brussels and not to Luxembourg.
    I have to use http://www.b-europe.com to buy a ticket from London to Luxembourg.

    If you go to http://www.b-europe.com you will have a very difficult time figuring out how the OP made a mistake (since they have a simple calendar to choose your dates) and the prices in GBP and EUR converted to US Dollars are nowhere near the US$ 784 the OP claimed he lost.

    I believe the OP has a lot more explaining to do.

  • Marc Barnett

    Even the US Customs asks you to put the date of your arrival on the customs declaration you fill out and hand in on your arrival at a US airport from overseas, in the dd mm yyyy format. So how are experienced travelers unaware of this format; and how do they get on the right trains or planes which depart at 19.35 rather than 7.35 pm (in bold type), let alone the difference between 12am and 12pm, v. 12.00 and 24.00 or 00.01. Dear me, how tough for those poor Americans … Join the rest of the world, and while you are at it, go metric as well. Is this what is meant by “American exceptionalism”?

  • Heather Amaral

    They aren’t being needlessly greedy at all. The passenger messed up his booking by not paying attention, so they owe him nothing. It’s the same as if you bought a ticket for a show and then showed up on the wrong date. You’re going to have to buy a new ticket. The dates are not really that confusing, and as others have pointed out he missed it by two whole days so it wasn’t “date confusion” due to the format. I wouldn’t get involved in this one as it was absolutely his mistake and Eurostar owes him nothing. Nor should they “bend the rules” this once because then they’d have to do it for everyone. Expensive lesson learned.

  • Dutchess

    Right, and what reason for this should Chris provide? There is no compelling reason other than, he made a mistake and now expects Eurostar to eat the loss and not him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/judyserie.nagy Judy Serie Nagy

    Travel vendors don’t need to be so annoying. They need customer service people who can THINK when it comes to a situation like this. They have reasons for their rules, but no reason to torture a customer.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Uh, any one with a half a brain knows that only the US uses month/date. Even the US military uses date/month.

    If you’re not smart enough to know this, or adept enough to Google it, just don’t book your own travel.

    Leave this one alone. It falls under the stupidity tax.

  • TonyA_says

    LOL, even the TSA requires Secure Flight Passenger Data as DDMMMYY.

  • plateman

    No, Chris has some factchecking to do. Seems he is doing less and less of that recently.

  • EdB

    This is just another one of his Monday “borderline” cases he says he throws out.

  • EdB

    That is a question you would need to ask Chris about. I was not saying he should mediate as my response was to Carver’s comment that he should mediate. If Chris wants to send a message on behalf of the customer, I see nothing wrong with that. However, it should not be brought out in the public like it was here.

  • DavidYoung2

    Too many Americans think the world revolves around us. The rest of the world does things like dd/mm/yy, street name before number, zip code before city, metric only, manual transmission on rental cars, chip-and-pin instead of magnetic strip, no free refills on coffee, tea and soda, two cubes when you ask for ice, and paying 50c to use the toilet (bring paper!.)

    If you’re going to travel, learn the basics or be prepared to pay the price for ignorance (and to get that puzzled look when you ask how much 100g in American?)

  • Michael__K

    “these “lucky breaks” come at the expense of others”

    Only if the OP’s train was full and potential customers were turned away.

    If not, you can say it was EuroStar that caught a “lucky break.” The more customers that mess up, the better…

  • Michael__K

    I’d like to understand what his home-printed ticket(s) looked like (and why). Did the tickets not show a date? Was there no confirmation email with a date?

    The OP clearly messed up, but if he didn’t get a proper confirmation that might partly explain and mitigate his failure to notice and try to address the the problem immediately.

    Can anyone download Eurostar’s PDF route map?


    It doesn’t work for me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/donna.caruso.37 Donna Caruso

    Although I think this could have been avoided by Mr. Strasburger paying better attention to his dates, paying 3x over seems harsh. Eurostar could’ve been more understanding even if it doesn’t have to. I’d like to see Mr. Strasburger get some of his money back. Oh customer service, where hath thou gone?

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    I really appreciate the feedback from travel professionals. At the risk of being redundant, let me say — I’m not a travel agent, and I don’t aspire to be one.

    The Monday cases are not meant to be a full-fledged investigation. They’re supposed to be only one side of the story — the customer’s side — and I post them to determine if more mediation is necessary.

    In this case, it appears the commenters who think the traveler is “stupid” and doesn’t deserve any help are in the minority. But we still have a few hours to go.

    To those of you who want me to check to make sure the passenger could have booked Eurostar from London to Luxembourg, sorry. Not on a post like this. Had this been a Troubleshooter, then I would have done more sleuthing.

  • http://www.blackchickontour.com/ Terri Lundberg

    “…Europe, where dates have a way of getting reversed.”

    Reversed? Doesn’t most of the world use dd/mm/yy unlike the US (who I think feels the need to be extra special; think metric system, and A4 paper) that chooses mm/dd/yy? I’m currently residing in Saudi Arabia. Most of the ME uses the dd/mm/yy.

    Anyway, I voted no. I think this is just an expensive lesson. He was confused and is blaming Eurostar.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CarverFarrow Carver Clark Farrow


  • http://www.facebook.com/CarverFarrow Carver Clark Farrow

    Presumably Chris’s computer keyboard have the buttons “n” and “o”. I’m sure he gets far more requests than he publishes here. There is no dilution here.

  • sirwired

    I’m sure the customer service person most certainly did think. And what did he/she think? “Why on earth is this customer expecting to get a break on another seat when the seat that was supposed to contain him left empty two days ago due to his own mistake?”

    How is declining to give away free product “torture”?

  • http://www.facebook.com/CarverFarrow Carver Clark Farrow

    As Michael_k pointed out, there is only a loss if the train were full and they turned away other fares.

  • ClareClare

    Is this man a doctor? He was speaking at a medical conference, right? I’d like to think that he’s accustomed to triple-checking details at work… I guess if he were a 92 year-old peasant, we might feel sorry for him because he was so easily confused (and we’d also wonder why someone else didn’t help him book the tix!), but he sounds like a working professional who was trained to be precise!

  • ScreamingLisa

    “Eurostar’s online system is not foolproof,”

    Says the fool.

  • TonyA_says

    Chris, I never called the doctor, “stupid”. In fact, the doctor might very well be brilliant (reading his wiki page makes me think he is a genius).

    Of course no one wants to buy three tickets for the same train ride. Two is bad enough. Hence, it is easy to sympathize with one who did buy 3 tickets. But some don’t buy his argument and they want to think this through.

    The first ticket purchase was NOT a mistake. I understand the date of the conference changed. So it begs to ask this question: if the doctor was able to buy the first ticket without making a mistake [on the dates], then why did he make a mistake the second time around ??? Why was the Eurostar website only confusing the second time he used it? He was traveling from London to Luxembourg. Wouldn’t his mind already be in European mode when he has thinking of train rides inside Europe? No doubt the doctor made a mistake.

    Here is where I differ from most folks. I, too, make mistakes. When I do, I BEG the airline or the travel source to forgive my mistakes. Most of the time they pity me and give me a break because they are kind and understanding. But if I blame MY mistake on a European style date format when a calendar was available for picking dates, my vendor will feel insulted and would probably ignore me. The last thing they want to hear is that their [European] websites suck because it wasn’t AMERICAN enough.

  • TonyA_says

    I can assure you the CSR was THINKING to keep his or her job by following company policy. What I think you want to do is for the CSR to use their HEART and give a refund for NONREFUNDABLE tickets. Well, the company does sell FLEXIBLE tickets for that very reason. The customer has the option to buy a NON REFUNDABLE or a CHANGEABLE ticket from the get go. Anyone confused with European style date formats can still understand the difference between those 2 kinds of tickets.

    Finally, I disagree with your use of the word torture. I don’t see where the OP was coerced to accept or do anything against his will.

  • TonyA_says

    You do realize that some people have to buy a more expensive ticket (about EUR 30-36 more oneway) because that ticket offers some “refund-ability”.

    Refund Conditions: Refundable before and up
    to two months after departure by paying a fixed 33,00 EUR fee per person
    and per single journey. In case of an unused portion of a reduced
    return ticket the amount refunded is subject to a 33,00 EUR fee charged
    on its inward/outward portion minus the price of a single fare.

    Exchange Conditions: Exchangeable before or
    after departure by paying the difference in price with the next
    available fare in the same or higher class of service, plus a fixed fee
    of 33,00 EUR per person and per single journey.

    Essentially what you are doing by telling Elliott to mediate is that it is ok to REFUND and NONREFUNDABLE ticket because an advocate mediates your case.

  • 1pop

    I last booked with Eurorail a couple of years ago…7 trips covering 6 countries…had to cancel at the VERY last minute(ended up in the hospital), but got my fare refunded because…I purchased “RailProtectionPlan” from Eurorail at $9 a trip…it was right there on the web form…sure glad I learned to read when I was in school, back in the ’40s!

  • TonyA_says
  • Michelle C

    Show me a sold out train and I will change my reply. Has your life been so tough you have never had a lucky break?

  • Michelle C

    What loss? Show me a full train and a willing buyer. Deduct the credit back charge, and 20 dollars in productivity it costs to send an email.

  • TonyA_says

    Go to India or China and you will definitely see MORE THAN sold out trains.:-)

  • Dutchess

    Michelle, would you use this same flimsy excuse with an airline?

  • Dutchess

    Right, so would you call an airline and make the same excuse?

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    Well, looks like the “yes” votes have it. I’ll be mediating this one.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    why is the USA living in the past ?
    & why does the USA have neither imperial measuremenst or metric, but something called US gallons, US whatever.
    Get with the programme (correct spelling) or you’ll be left further behind than you are now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/allison.britting.1 Allison Britting

    I voted yes because I traveled to Paris from London on Eurostar last July, and ran into numerous problems with seats, being allowed on our reserved train, and a 2-hour delay when we were detained going through Customs. The first words I heard from everyone I talked to at each problem point wanted us to pay extra money or purchase new tickets. In the end, we didn’t have to, but it was an extremely off-putting experience, and we felt very taken advantage of.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CarverFarrow Carver Clark Farrow

    NO, the excuse is silly. The mediation is simply that the OP screwed up and ultimately ended up with three tickets for one butt.

    The point of mediation is not to shame the travel provider but rather get the attention of someone empowered to say yes. The op by himself is likely to only get a CSR without discretion or power.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CarverFarrow Carver Clark Farrow

    Of course its OK to refund a nonrefundable ticket. That’s Eurostar’s prerogative. Its also their prerogative to say no. All I want is for someone with decision making authority to review this case to see if it merits an exception, waiver, courtesy, or simply, a what-a-dummy, let’s-cut-him-a-break.

  • jpp42

    What, you expect us to keep track of what day it is?? ;-)

  • TonyA_says

    many here, including me, find his reason for asking a refund very weak. good luck to him.

  • jpp42

    I work for an international company and I require my staff and colleagues to use a format like that (or D MMMM YYYY, meaning the full month name, 17 September 2012). Any ambiguous format – that is, one that doesn’t spell out the month name to show which part is the month – is not allowed in any internal or external document. I think that’s the best way to resolve this issue. But most Americans have to be reminded of this many many times before they get it.

  • TonyA_says

    I wholeheartedly agree. I have made a lot of mistakes fat fingering dates. But I blame myself and not the calendar or date format. I should check my work better.

  • http://twitter.com/GlennAHarper Glenn Harper

    Seriously. If this is the “best” case you can find to mediate then you must be suffering a shortage of “real” cases. The complaint makes no sense – 7/6 vs. 7/8 has nothing to do with date format as has been pointed out, and seems to have other unexplained disconnects. Seems to me like a whining consumer who doesn’t want to take responsibility for his own actions – choosing the wrong date and booking a non-refundable ticket – presumably to save a few bucks. Clearly not a sensible decision considering the date had already changed once.

    Taking cases like this sends the wrong message to everyone and simply reinforces the negative American stereotypes that exist in the rest of the world. What’s he going to do next? Sue them for causing him anguish?

    He made a mistake, simple as that, his fault, not theirs – suck it up, or at least be honest about it. Isn’t that a lesson we learn as kids?
    It seems his appeal to Eurostar was a whiny “it’s not my fault, it’s yours” that got the short shrift it deserved. He wasn’t prepared to admit he made a mistake and ask for help (as another reader admitted he does in similar situations) and now he expects you to do it for him – move on, you’re not his mother.

  • sdir1

    I think Eurostar might have been more compassionate if Stasburger was honest about the mistake and accepted full responsibility for his error. Instead, he approached Eurostar by telling them their website is needlessly confusing and therefore he should get a refund. Not a good idea to make accusations when you’re asking for a favor. Besides, good customer service does not automatically mean giving the customer their way.

  • Ann Lamoy

    Chris-the website wasn’t confusing. He accidentally booked a ticket for the 6th but his travel date was the 8th. 7/8/12 or 8/7/12 cannot be confused visually with 6/7/12 and 7/6/12.

    Chances are, he was in a hurry when he found out his speaking engagement date had been changed. When he got to the terminal and found out his ticket was no good because it was for two days prior, he was understandably upset that he had to purchase a third ticket. But it was his error-not Eurostar’s. Had he noticed right away when he paid for the ticket he had made that error, I would be more sympathetic and I bet Eurostar would have been as well.

    Plain and simple-he needs to take responsibility for his error. If he paid for all three tickets, perhaps he can ask the organizers of the conference for a refund of one of the tickets since they changed the dates on him. But to ask Eurostar to pay for his error? Nope.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CarverFarrow Carver Clark Farrow

    If you read my earlier post, I called his reason “silly”. I just want him to get a fair shot, even if the ultimate answer is tough luck.

  • John Keahey

    Of course you can ask Eurostar to review and perhaps, although not likely, it may give him a break. Reality: the customer screwed up for all the reasons your responders below have pointed out. But it never hurts to ask. Last week, I made a non-refundable reservation for a Paris hotel near the airport because I was scheduled for an overnight layover. Then, four days before, a family emergency caused me to leave much earlier, and there was no layover, hence no need for the non-refundable room. I sent a cancellation notice, explained the problem, and, with no expectations, asked for mercy. Surprisingly, they took mercy and gave me a full refund on a non-refundable reservation. You can ask for anything you want in this world, and it is up to the other person/company to say yes or no.

  • Bill___A

    I just looked up on Eurostar’s site and there’s a calendar that pops up when you choose the date. Regardless of the format on the ticket, it appears the selection process is quite universal. I have purchased tickets on this site before and not had a problem.
    Americans need to learn that most of the world doesn’t work in feet and inches, pounds, backwards date formats, and celsius. They also put the days in different places (ends in Sunday not Saturday) on the pop up calendars, so be careful about that too.
    “use a professional travel agent” haha..then you can at least blame it on them if it is wrong.

  • http://www.facebook.com/donna.caruso.37 Donna Caruso

    I didn’t read where Mr. Strasburger told Eurostar their website is confusing. He stated this to Chris, “I think they’re being needlessly greedy — even more so than U.S.
    airlines,” he said. “This was a honest mistake, and even if it weren’t,
    they should at least allow re-use with a penalty fee.” Sounds like he’s taken responsibility but still is sore about paying out 3x as much. Which I don’t blame him. Expensive lesson learned.

  • bodega3

    Something isn’t right with this. You can’t book a ticket to Luxembourg on the Eurostar site. Is this letter for real?

  • flutiefan

    wait, so he got 8/7/2012 confused with 7/6/2012? those aren’t even the same numbers? if it was 7/8/2012 vs 8/7/2012 then i’d have a little sympathy. but having the 6th as one of the numbers just blows his credibility. methinks it was a mis-click (on his part) and now he wants the company to cover it.

  • sdir1

    My comment was based on how Eurostar responded to Strasburger.  Eurostar explained how things are designed to prevent confusion and that they are not responsible for how this tickets printed on his computer.  This suggests he already tried to blame their system for the date confusion.  Instead of an outright no, they attempted to politely educate him.

  • Michelle C