Eurolines / National Express

Discussion in 'Buses & Coaches' started by MarkyT, 25 Aug 2015.

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  1. MarkyT

    MarkyT Established Member

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    A bit of a rant I'm afraid, and I didn't know whether to put this in International or here, but here goes . . .

    I've had an interesting time dealing with Eurolines/National Express over the last 24 hours. My father's oldest surviving friend travelled over from Switzerland by coach last week for my father's 90th birthday party at the weekend. The times shown in the UK version of the published Eurolines timetable online for his outbound journey differed from those in the Swiss online version and he missed his (booked) connection at Victoria coach station onto a NatEx coach to the West Country. That resulted in a small rebooking fee and two hours or so delay in arriving with us, however a much bigger problem has only just been averted, almost entirely by chance, with respect to his impending return journey.

    After I checked the timetable online for the return journey (which fully agreed with the details printed on his ticket, booked by a Swiss travel agent) the gentleman asked me to send an email to his son to confirm his arrival time back in Zurich so he could meet him. Unfortunately (or actually fortunately it turned out!) our guest gave me the wrong email address and, although the message was sent from my account successfully, I soon received a reply saying I had contacted the wrong person. I then suggested to our guest that he might allow me to log into his own gmail account in order that I might find his son's correct email address. This we did and sent the message accordingly. However, his inbox also contained a new message from the Swiss travel agent informing our guest that his departure from Victoria Coach station had been brought forward by two and a half hours. I returned to the Eurolines website to check the timetables once again and see if there were any notices of service change posted etc. I could find nothing so obtained the call centre details and rang them. The call centre had no knowledge whatsoever of any service changes and at first assured me that the previous departure time as printed on the ticket would apply, so I asked how and where could the travel agent have obtained the information. I forwarded the travel agent email to the call centre operator who promised to investigate further and get back to me. Finally this morning after having to ring back again I received confirmation that the coach HAS been re-timed after all. They obtained this information directly from their European control office on making the specific enquiry but had not been informed previously at all and no online material reflected the change at all - that is shocking. In the end, they sorted out the rebooking, including an amended connecting NatEx reservation from Devon, which thankfully is just still possible albeit at an ungodly hour in the morning. Although clearly having an email account, our guest is not a big user of the internet and had not intended to do so at all whilst away. It was only the 'email address accident' that revealed the possibility of re-timing through the travel agent's fortunate message, even though I had quite reasonably (I thought) checked all the normal online resources available to the general public. Without the 'email accident', our guest could easily have found himself stranded for a day or so in central London with no accommodation booked and potential large expense to find some at short notice or make alternative travel arrangements. He and I are greatly disappointed with this standard of service.

    The reason for the retiming is apparently 'rerouting', details of which the call centre couldn't or wouldn't divulge. I wonder if they are using a different, slower channel crossing than the original Eurotunnel shuttle route.

    I have suggested he might fly the next time he visits!
     
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  3. BestWestern

    BestWestern Established Member

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    I would think it highly likely that scheduled coach services via Eurotunnel be might currently be rerouted, in view of the continual delays and serious issues with illegal immigrants. Quite sensible, in my opinion.
     
  4. Quakkerillo

    Quakkerillo Member

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    Not surprised at all here. I've used Eurolines twice, and both times it's quite a mess. I've also had some friends travel on Eurolines buses, whom I had to pick up upon arrival at Brussels North (where their headquarters are), but no employee there had any clue whatsoever what people were doing. "When is the next bus from Paris scheduled to arrive?" "I don't know".

    The bus from London he has to take will go all the way to Berlin. Reasons why the bus may be retimed and rerouted are:
    (1) Channel crossing
    (2) E40 motorway Ostend - Ghent - Brussels roadworks; 1 instead of 3 lanes available. Possibly bus will divert via Lille, adding 45-60 minutes to the journey time.

    I hope everything went well, and using a flight the next time certainly is good advice! For Devon - Zurich, I certainly wouldn't have chosen a coach, even though I like to travel by coach (mostly Brussels - London, Brussels - Frankfurt).
     
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