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Post-Trip Analysis: Train Issues--How would a Fodorite have handled it?

Post-Trip Analysis: Train Issues--How would a Fodorite have handled it?

Old Jun 7th, 2014, 05:59 PM
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Post-Trip Analysis: Train Issues--How would a Fodorite have handled it?

Just got back from a great trip with my sis to Paris, Lourdes and Barcelona. We had a fabulous time and overall most everything went smoothly except for the train trip from Lourdes to Barcelona. We left Lourdes at 5:00 AM and were scheduled to arrive in Toulouse where we would catch our connection to Narbonne and then catch the next train to Barcelona. We realized all was not well when mid-way from Lourdes to Toulouse we noticed that the train was not leaving the station and we were basically just sitting on the tracks. An announcement was made, but of course it was in French so we had no idea what was said and since our car was almost empty there was no one who spoke English who could translate. Eventually the conductor came by to explain that there were problems on the tracks and that we would need to get off the train as they had chartered a bus to get us to another station that would get us to Toulouse. Needless to say the day resulted in a missed connection out of Toulouse. We were able to get another ticket at the station and got on a train that was headed to Narbonne just in a nick of time. We thought all would go our way when we arrived in Narbonne and realized that there was another train leaving for Barcelona in 35 minutes. Our hopes were quickly dashed when we ran up to the ticket agency to find a line 12 deep and only 2 agents and one of those agents seemed to be planning a month long itinerary for the couple she was helping. With 7 minutes to spare, I reached the agent (very rude, by the way) only to have her tell me that my Renfe Ticket could not be exchanged for one from the SNCF train thus resulting in me needing to buy 2 new tickets for about $200. Apparently the tickets could have been exchanged but I would have had to get the conductor's approval. Does that sound right? I was under the impression that SNCF and RENFE had a joint arrangement and that the tickets were interchangeable. Given that the next train was not leaving for several hours I went ahead and purchased the new tickets and we literally made it on board as the train was leaving the station. Though I have traveled quite a bit in the last 30 years, I have never felt more like a "newbie" than after this experience! I realized that my rather large suitcase was not well suited for train travel nor for those stations that had multiple staircases and no elevators nor escalators. Anyway, my question after this long-winded story is how would a Fodorite have handled this situation? And any chance I might be able to get a refund for the missed train from Narbonne to Barcelona? I bought them thru Petrabax and everything seems to indicate that they are non-refundable. Wondering if my credit card may have provided some sort of travel insurance? Thanks for any input.
luli38 is offline  
Old Jun 7th, 2014, 06:19 PM
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I can relate to the "no stairs and no escalator" (although sometimes there are ramps but when you are in a hurry you can easily miss these things).

I suspect a lot of people have had a similar incident with kissed connections ( like when I was in Switzerland and there was, literally, a landslide that the train barely stopped in front of) and non-refundable tickets not to mention that "long line at the ticket window" (reminds me of Rome) and was there a machine you could have used instead which means forget a refund or an exchange at least immediately.

You arrived in Barcelona in one piece so I'd say you handled it quite well (and I am certain you'll remember the whole thing with a smile in your face later as you tell the story at a cocktail party).
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Old Jun 7th, 2014, 06:20 PM
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Did I really type "kissed" connections? Yeah, as it kiss that one good-bye.
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Old Jun 8th, 2014, 08:39 AM
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You did everything right, and stuff still happened. It does.

You handled things well, and I admire your willingness to admit things like your suitcase being too big and your inability to speak French complicating the problem..

If you can do it without destroying your digestion, I would ask for a refund from the issuer of your tickets. They sold you an international ticket that required a connection. The carrier did not get you to the connection on time, the clerk did not do something she was perfectly capable of doing. If they don't respond, I would ask the credit card to negotiate a refund since you did not get what you paid for.

This is one of the situations in which I would adopt the French " normalement": "normally, of course you don't give refunds, bien sur, but in my case there are special circumstances . . . ."

Finally, this is one of the reasons some of us throw wet blankets on people's plans and itineraries. You did everything right and had a mess. Imagine if you had booked your return flight home from BCN, expecting to arrive in plenty of time and then had this delay! Suppose all the flights were booked for the next three or our days . . .. Stuff happens

Thanks for sharing.
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Old Jun 8th, 2014, 08:45 AM
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You can claim an at least partial refund in France for any train that is more than 30 minutes late. Usually the staff is there to distribute the refund envelopes when the late train arrives.

http://www.comment-economiser.fr/doc...tard-sncf2.JPG
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Old Jun 8th, 2014, 08:49 AM
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I may be mistaken, but as I recall, you get a 25% refund for a 30-minute delay, a 50% refund for a one hour delay and a full refund for a 2-hour delay. For extreme delays, you get both a full refund and a free ticket.
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