(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

train saga ...

our visitors have been experiencing a series of travel casualties involving planes and trains and banking faux-pas. I've determined never to personally purchase tickets online nor recommend such to others except in situations where there is really no other option. of course, the past week's occurrences may have unjustly influenced me and with time I'll return to my casual, who me? nothing could go wrong attitude.

one guest's plane was late, making her miss her train. she had tried to buy some sort of insurance with sncf when she bought her ticket, but was unable to. as a result, she was provided no option other than to buy another ticket from Paris to Angouleme, which I believe was more expensive than her original ticket.

later, after spending literally hours plotting a week plus of travels from my house to Barcelona, on to Nice and then Italy ... due to an error on her bank's part ... the card she paid online with was captured in an ATM and could not be presented at the train station when collecting the tickets. SNCF had absolutely NO alternative to offer. And insurance HAD been purchased, but of course this particular scenario was not covered. "Oh, you purchased those online. you have to deal with them. And the insurance company isn't part of SNCF." No tickets were provided, although paid for. No trip could be taken. and No Refund could be given. tant pis.

by some miracle, when returning home from the Bordeaux train station, (yes, we drove all the way to Bordeaux to receive the above news.) and looking more closely online, we discovered that subsequent portions of the trip could be cancelled and reimbursed. so only the 1st leg (a major portion - Bordeaux to Barcelona) was lost. we think. still waiting to see what credit will be provided on the card.

don't even get me started on the many calls to 3 different agencies concerning the bank and the captured card. suffice to say, after hours of calls, the card has been recovered. fortunately this happened in a small bank branch in Brantôme, where they were willing to listen to what happened and hold the card vs. destroy it while we frantically sought out a solution.

so. in fear of a lost or stolen or confiscated card, I'm vowing always to go to the local train station to purchase my tickets. one less disaster to deal with.

oh and our visitors? they're off! but they decided to skip Spain altogether, quelle dommage. there's always next time!


The Pliers said...

My hat is off to them for not having committed suicide, given the day I've had and the mini-crise de nerfs I indulged in.

Your post has made me think twice about inviting people to come over for a visit. I don't know if I could cope with the potential fallout.

Perhaps tomorrow I will think of it all as a simple cautionary tale.

Darling said...

I had this kind of experiene some years ago... Just a disaster !!!

Delana said...

I went through this train disaster myself. It ended up costing my kids a fortune. When I told my French friend about it she exclaimed "why didn't you ask me about this first?" Her advice...get on the train with the wrong ticket anyway. If the guys come through to check...sometimes they do, sometimes they don't...and you've got a ticket for the wrong day, claim stupidity. They will fine you but only about 20 Euros...which is far less than the cost of changing your ticket and buying a new one. One more French lesson on "getting around the system".