When the pandemic broke out in March 2020, my wife and I cut a short trip to Norway, changed flights and canceled reservations including boarding a train from Bergen to Oslo that we had booked using the Eurorail. did. All other vendors have refunded us long ago, but we have not yet received the $ 334 borrowed from the Euro Railroad. In August 2020, the company’s board of directors, Tom Lewis, wrote, “Ask creditors when it’s time for a fiscal restructuring,” not to declare bankruptcy. fair enough. But since then, they haven’t replied to our email. Any help is welcome. Douglas in Litchfield, Minnesota.
I’m not surprised that Tom Lewis of the Euro Railroad didn’t reply. After investigating your problem, I suspect he didn’t exist. In fact, the Euro Rail Company no longer exists. The travel agency registered with Coral Gables, Florida, went out of business in 2020, according to former owner Washington Cunha, who was emailed from his home in Brazil.
Cunha said he will resume business in August and gradually try to refund or refund customers. He added that the company was “really sorry” for the inconvenience. (Mr. Cunha doesn’t know if Louis is a real person, but I’ve looked at many documents about the company and haven’t seen any signs of him. Also, LinkedIn and the company’s social. There is no trace of him in the media. His style The email you gave contained a grammatical error similar to Mr. Cunha.)
If he is faithful to his words, it is possible that you may eventually get your money back.
That said, I’ll explain it soon, so I can’t get your hope. But before we get to the heart of your problem, your email is about tour operators and travel agencies who are stuck with refunds for trips canceled or other services due to a pandemic. It was one of the many emails I received.
In many cases, the travel agency gave the client a quick refund. Others never did. However, it’s worth noting that the massive wave of cancellations that hit the travel industry in early 2020 caused annoying problems for everyone, but third parties like travel agencies acting as intermediaries. Was particularly hurt. These companies were waiting for refunds from railroads, airlines, hotels and car rental companies, and as Cunha lamented me, they faced the challenge of being able to refund to their customers. Cash flow issues can be overwhelming and in some cases even more complex. This is because the agency must follow the various cancellation, credit, and refund policies of the purchasing company and interpret it for consumers...
Many smaller institutions, such as the Euro Railroad, have succumbed to financial pressure and closed. Cunha said his staff accepted 68% of customer refund requests, even though railroad companies like Renfe in Spain and DB in Germany accepted only 23% of refund requests from Euro Railroad. Told me. Cunha said he often received credit from the company for future train trips, but he gave the customer a cash refund. (When I contacted these rail companies individually, a Renfe representative said that all tickets were refunded regardless of the conditions and the DB did not respond to the request for comment.) Therefore, Euro Railroad Cash flow has become negative. It still owes $ 128,000 to people like you.
If that was true, you were particularly unlucky. Age-Christoffer Lundeby, Communications Manager at Vy, a Norwegian railway company that operates trains from Bergen to Oslo, has sent a letter to Euro Railroad stating that Vy has refunded the value of your ticket.
Unfortunately, you are not the first person to have problems with the Euro Railroad. The company has a history of complaints online. This TripAdvisor thread It started with people who were registered 10 years ago Better Business Bureau.. Florida did not submit an annual report, so it administratively dissolved the Euro Railroad in 2018 and did not revive it in the two years before Mr. Cunha shut down.
And perhaps most clearly, in 2020 the Euro Railroad was sued by Rail Europe, A major railroad ticket player — brought the Eurail Pass to the United States in 1959 — for which Euro Railroad was a partner agency. Rail Europe claimed that Mr. Cunha’s company was in debt of $ 38,000, which Mr. Cunha agreed to pay in writing in 2018. In 2021, a judge in Broward County ruled a default against the Eurorail, ordering Mr. Cunha to pay more than $ 40,000. Neither Rail Europe nor Mr. Cunha said whether the debt had been settled so far, but Mr. Cunha wrote:
I tried to follow up and also covered the topic of whether Tom Lewis was a real person. It was like the last straw, and Mr. Cunha switched to Portuguese (I knew I spoke) and had a Brazilian equivalent of “flying a kite” or “jumping into a lake”. I’m scared. ” .. He did not respond to subsequent emails.
So, unfortunately, I couldn’t get your money back, but your story sheds light on two often confusing issues that may help fellow travelers: Book a train ticket in Europe. What to do and what to do if you do not receive a refund.
When it comes to train ticket questions, I turned to Mark Smith. He has set up a wonderfully compulsive train website. Seat61.com.. He said he really didn’t need to use an intermediary like the Euro Railroad. Instead, search Google for train drivers in the country where your journey begins and book directly through them.
“Ignore anything that is preceded by the letter” ad “,” Smith says, going straight to organic results. “Doing so will save you time in your life.”
If something goes wrong (some European operators’ English sites are easier to navigate than others), you will not be able to print your ticket at the place of departure, but book with the operator in the country where your trip ends. Therefore, be sure to get an e-ticket.
And for those who are still facing the obstacles of pursuing refunds for a pandemic, this is what I have discovered:
First, make sure you are right. From time to time, travelers may instinctively blame the company for booking on the wrong date, overlooking emails with significant changes, or opting out of insurance. (And “traveler” means me.)
If you are right, do everything you can with the company itself, always be solid but polite, and start by doing everything you can in writing.
Then turn to the online review or discussion board. You may or may not elicit a company reaction, but even if you do not, you will warn others about your experience. Fair and rational — Instead of venting, explain exactly and in detail what happened.
Another option is to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, or the Attorney General of the state in which your business is based.
Results may vary, but after receiving multiple complaints about a Boston-based overseas adventure trip regarding a pandemic refund — As my predecessor, Sarah Farshain — I called the Attorney General’s office in Massachusetts with the advice of one petitioner.
Since January 2020, AG offices have received more than 950 complaints about the company, and the “majority” is related to the cancellation of the pandemic, spokeswoman Roxana Martinez Gracias said. .. The consumer advocacy and response department of AG’s office has recovered more than $ 9.1 million from overseas adventure travel and nearly $ 4 million from other travel agencies.
When I asked the company for a reply, I received a statement from public relations officer Anne Shannon.
“The Covid-19 pandemic poses an extraordinary ongoing challenge to the travel industry,” she wrote in an email. “We will continue to respond to all travelers as quickly as possible with refund requests on a case-by-case basis.”
It was an overwhelming reaction, but at least she didn’t tell me to scare the pig.
If you need advice on the best travel plans that didn’t work, Send an email to [email protected]..