I was due to travel from London St Pancras to Paris for a three day trip in July. The Eurostar the train was an hour late and then broke down before reaching the Channel Tunnel. We were stuck on board in the stifling heat with no updates, electricity or air conditioning for over an hour before the train returned to St Pancras. There was no apology or official information from Eurostar. At St Pancras we were told to rebook our place on the app or stand in a long queue at the ticket office. The app kept flashing error messages and was unusable. At 4:00 p.m., six hours after our original departure time, one of the staff told me that there were no seats available that day and that we would have to drive to Paris on our own. As a result, I returned home and canceled the trip.

Eurostar gave me a limited time e-voucher in exchange for my ticket instead of a refund. And my insurance company Holidaysafe is refusing to pay for the hotel I booked in Paris without a letter from Eurostar explaining the reason and length of the delay. I presented the leaflet that Eurostar staff handed out to passengers confirming that the service had been cancelled. He claims he cannot contact Eurostar directly for data protection reasons. Eurostar does not respond.
RS, Letchworth Garden City, Herts

Eurostar seems to have lost control of its communications, with 82% of customers rating it as poor on review website Trustpilot, and a common theme is a lack of customer service responsiveness. When I asked why, the company brought up its new favorite corporate excuse: the blame, it claims, lies squarely with Covid. Its contact center is apparently still suffering from an unprecedented volume of calls during the lockdown, and it knows passengers are waiting a long time to get through. What is her decision? Withdraw your helpline so customers can no longer bombard it with inquiries. Or, as Eurostar claims, so it can deal with “the existing backlog of requests and better prioritize urgent cases”.

So claimants have to wait for Eurostar to respond to online complaints at their leisure, leaving the 1.7 million UK households without internet access in the lurch. The company generously tells me that while it doesn’t normally offer refunds for the e-vouchers it encourages customers to accept when canceling service, it will in your case. He also promised to provide the necessary information to Holidaysafe.

The interpretation of customer service at Holidaysafe is equally disappointing. The claim that confirming a cancellation at a rail company is a breach of data protection is nonsense. It said: “We have asked our insurer to review the claim in light of these circumstances and we are pleased to say that they have now agreed to accept the information available to confirm that the delay was more than 12 hours and pay for the loss of accommodation in Paris. We would like to apologize for the delay in processing the claim.”

Eurostar has since sent the money, but two weeks after Holidaysafe apologized, they still haven’t paid.

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