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Rail Europe- buyers BEWARE

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United States
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Rail Europe- buyers BEWARE

In case you did not read my other post. I bought tickets online yesterday on Rail Europe for mid Oct 2007, but they said that they needed to further research my purchase and will let me know by email in two days.

Well I got a confirmation from them today that they were able to confirm 2 of 3 of my reservations, but one of the reservations was going to cost $75 more because prices had changed. What, since yesterday that I booked?

Then they said that one of the reservations was not going to be available until Aug 27th. Sure then prices would probably change some more and by then they will charge a S&H and want more money.

I very patiently called them, because you have to hold for almost 30 mins, and told them that I was not going to pay more for the reservation. I am aware that prices can change but BEFORE you purchase something not AFTER, and I was not going to wait until Aug 27th because on their website that ticket was available.

I cancelled the whole thing, or like they said "deleted" the entire request. I also called my credit card to make sure they did not charge anything to it. Although they assured me they had not.

After I posted about their 2nd class reservations being "sold out" for certain days in October and other TA members replied to it, I now realize that these people are running a scam. They do not have the reservations, they want to entice you to buy 1st class. We wanted first class anyways, but I want those out there to be aware of this. They cannot sell you these tickets now. So what they're doing is holding them for you, but then they show you one rate now and something else later once you are "confirmed".

I am glad of two things....

(1) first and foremost that this is an american owned company, even if partly, because now i am going to make it my business to report this to whatever beaureu or agency that deals with this type of unethical business practice

(2) that TA has forums like this where people can warn each other. All the comments I received from my other posts at least warned me on how to deal with this because I was able to pick up right away that it was a scam and not be taken for a fool.

Dont let Rail Europe do this to you.

Cambridge, United...
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1. Re: Rail Europe- buyers BEWARE

Wow. $75 more? Erm. Interesting. At some point prices have to change, of course, and if it had been a smaller amount I could have believed that you'd just been unlucky and it had coincided with an increase in fares on the Italian train network... but $75? I think not. I hadn't heard of them trying to do that before - seems very odd indeed, and surely anyone would be suspicious of that sort of price increase?

I'm not sure if you mentioned it in your other post - are you travelling by train on the day you arrive in Italy? If not, if you've got say a couple of days in Rome (that's where you're starting from, right?) before you head off anywhere else, then you can just buy the tickets in Italy when you arrive. I wouldn't leave it until the day of travel just in case, but a day or two before should be fine - particularly if you want 1st class, I should imagine, as I think that's usually emptier than 2nd.

Alternatively, try the Trenitalia site. That definitely won't let you book anything til 2 months in advance, sometimes even less than that, because some trains haven't been "officially" decided on yet, or something like that, I never really know for sure. But more trains will appear between now and the date of travel, that much is certain! People have had trouble with the Trenitalia site, it's very hit and miss. But at least you know you're dealing with them directly (if you manage it) and not through an agent which seems, erm, less than honest. I'm really surprised at Rail Europe, actually - I know I'm not their biggest fan but I thought they were just cashing in by making people pay a little bit extra and trying to catch people out with the $10 fee, etc, but what you've said sounds properly dodgy...

United States
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2. Re: Rail Europe- buyers BEWARE

I have to travel to Rome on the same day we arrive in Milan, so yes I do need to get the ticket before we travel.

Rail Europe cannot sell tickets before 60 days in advance, but they are saying that travel in October is sold out, but not the 1st class, the 2nd class. So that leads me to believe that they are lying, as another poster said, so people would feel obligated to buy the 1st class ticket.

Very unethical and they should be reported.

Los Angeles
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3. Re: Rail Europe- buyers BEWARE

oh no I'm so sorry this has happened to you :(

It's weird though, I don't know that they do it to make you buy the 1st class ticket because like I said in the other thread we were discussing this in earlier, when I looked up one of the trains I purchased through trenitalia, raileurope says that FIRST class is the one sold out (even though first class for a Florence-Rome train in September is certainly NOT sold out). However, that is within 60 days so they can't even say that it is because 1st class tickets aren't yet available - it really makes no sense!

I agree there is something shady going on and your experience today just confirms that further, but it is bizarre too, that is for sure.

My advice would be to just wait until you hit the 60 day window, try using trenitalia (with a couple different credit cards issued by different banks) and if all else fails, find a different way to get the tickets. But try not to worry about it until then...? :)

Cambridge, United...
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4. Re: Rail Europe- buyers BEWARE

It would be very interesting to see what Rail Europe had to say if someone challenged them... I mean, if when they said "travel for X is sold out", someone said "that's impossible", what would they say? Did you speak to anyone who told you they were sold out or was it only on the website? I suppose if it's only on the website they could say it's a glitch, but, hmm...

I'm not quite sure what's going on with the first class and second class thing - in your case it really does look like they were trying to get ("trick") you into buying 1st class tickets when there was no need, but I haven't heard of that happening to anyone else. It sounds like they had some kind of problem with your booking... most probably because they were trying to book trains for you that just aren't bookable yet!

I'd do what Debstah said - wait until nearer the time and try and book with Trenitalia. Don't panic if even 60 days before you still can't buy them - it's not always an exact 60 days, and honestly, there's really no chance of those tickets being sold out until at most a few days before travel, and sometimes they don't sell out at all. (unless there's an overnight trip involved, which as I think someone might have said on your other thread, is a different kettle of fish).

Ramsey, New Jersey
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5. Re: Rail Europe- buyers BEWARE

I am sorry that you had a bad experience with Rail Europe. When I purchased two sets of reserved tickets through them, I was not subjected to any hassle or frustration.

While I honestly do not know for sure, I can speculate that Rail Europe does not have unrestricted access to all of the products (tickets) sold by Trenitalia and the other European rail systems. The likely scenario is that RE gets inventory in blocks (x seats at a time). They can sell out those x seats, and then need to request more inventory. Therefore, what is sold out on Monday might magically become available again on Wednesday when the additional inventory is loaded. I agree that this is annoying, but it is a probable reality when dealing with the internet and an automated system.

Just my two cents, and it might not even be worth that much.

Tampa, Florida
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6. Re: Rail Europe- buyers BEWARE

I don't have any axe to grind with RailEurope, because I've never availed myself of their "services".

I have, however, frequently compared their rates to the rates available from the sites of the national railways, and have never found them to be even competitive (even after taking postage and currency exchange into effect).

I have also never found that they publish even a fair representation of the actual available routings.

Most of the national rail companies have an English language site, and many of them have English-speaking operators available to assist you via telephone.

It has been announced that most of the European national rail companies have gotten together to offer a single site on which one will be able to book train travel across Europe. I have, however, managed to hide the web address from myself somewhere!

If the national rail sites intimidate you, I'm sure an experienced travel agent will be able to help you without getting you further ensnared in this mess.

Mannheim, Germany
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for Zurich, Mannheim
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7. Re: Rail Europe- buyers BEWARE

Travellovers,

are you somewhere in Europe before you arrive in Milan? If yes, you can buy your ticket there. It is not necessary to buy them in Italy - any European (continental, not sure about the UK) train station will have access to the booking system.

Unless you are a large party I would even risk buying the tickets on the day of travel, but I understand you would like to plan it well (marriage? congratulation!)

Sory that it happened to you.

United States
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8. Re: Rail Europe- buyers BEWARE

Well... I wish I could say we would be in Paris sipping on a cup of wine right before we head out to Italy, but unfortunately not, we will be in South Florida waiting to get on a plane that will take us directly to Milan. I could not handle more than one plane ride at a time so we opted to fly nonstop to Milan since it was the only nonstop from Florida.

I will sit back and wait for trenitalia to make the tickets available and then purchase them, but honestly RailEurope is definitely not the kind of company I will ever do business with. You cannot sell a ticket for $100 then tell the consumer they are "confirmed" but now the ticket went up to $150. I definitely will not allow myself to be a victim of shaddy businesses. If they would have pressured me to buy that ticket, then all hell was going to break loose. It's not even the money that's an issue, it's the principle.

Washington DC...
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9. Re: Rail Europe- buyers BEWARE

For those who have purchased rail tickets from the national sites, were you able to do this with a US address and US credit card?

Los Angeles
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10. Re: Rail Europe- buyers BEWARE

honu_ohana, I had no problem buying my tickets from the trenitalia site - the first card i tried was denied (But I think it was the credit company's fault), then i used a Chase Visa with a USA Address and had no problems whatsoever, had my email with my reservation numbers within moments.

TravelLovers, I would say they broke the law. Once you purchase the ticket at a particular price, you have a contract at that price, even if their price goes up - that's just too bad for them, they have to eat the increase. So my best guess is that they broke basic contract law and probably several consumer protection laws. You just have to decide if it's something worth pursuing, a lot of these things end without anything happening... good luck!