Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How the Stories End

For regular No Crowds readers, here's how the Eurostar and Write a Novel in a Month stories turned out:

Eurostar came through quickly with a commitment for full refund and we are back to being happy Eurostar customers.
Moral of the story: use social media early and often to resolve customer service problems.

No Plot No Problem. Yes, I did write a novel in 30 days.
Verdict: It's crap but it's done
Prognosis: It could become something
Next step: Rewrite it

Monday, October 11, 2010

Customer Service, An Eurostar Refund and Mom's New iPhone

"Mom, there is no more customer service. Now it's all about what you do when they say no." Middle Son

"Mom, you of all people with an iPhone 4. What a waste." Youngest daughter

The younger generation has a different and adversarial view of customer service as witnessed by the above comment from my middle son.  But they use all these cool tools when companies don't perform and then supposedly things start to happen. So I went out and got an iPhone, right after my customer service problem with Eurostar. Inspired by my new status as part of the digital elite, I used state-of-the-art digital tools to advise Eurostar of my dissatisfaction.

And guess what? Last Friday, we connected. Eurostar customer service read my blog. They sent me an email. They responded to my tweets. I was so excited. They promised to look into why I hadn't been contacted. That is fine but let's not forget, what I want is a refund. Do you now understand why I was upset, why I deserve a refund and how to send the money to my bank account? I sent you those details as you requested and those are the questions to which I would like answers.

So what happens next Eurostar? Is my son right and we are going to have to go many more nasty rounds before this is settled or has social media (enhanced by smart phones) delivered a wonderful new world of customer service in which we understand each other better?

You can answer anytime. I now have an iPhone and despite what my daughter thinks, I'm digitally armed and ready for a great battle or great customer service. Now its up to you.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Eurostar Fail

Cows or Eurostar passengers?
The editor and I took a trip to Paris recently to check on our apartment.

On the way back to London we had an incident with the folks at Eurostar. The background to the incident can be summarized as follows: 1) the editor loses wallet 2) goes to Gare du Nord with receipt for ticket plus passport but no ticket which he must collect from machine with the now lost credit card 3) we explain that credit card has been lost and show proof of purchase + passport. 4) too bad for you, says Eurostar. If you want to go home you must buy a new ticket for EUR245) We have no choice. We buy ticket.

When we get home, we write Eurostar a nice email asking for our EUR245 back. To date, no response.

Which brings me to the point of my story. Why maintain a blog, plus a Facebook and a Twitter account, if you don't use these tools to encourage companies to respond when you are dissatisfied? So I am deploying my social media tools in an attempt to recover what I believe I am due. I've written this post, I've started a Facebook page called Eurostar Fail. I'm tweeting about it. Eurostar are you listening? We'll find out ...

And if you are interested, here is a copy of the email you neglected to answer:

Dear Sir or Madam,

On September 30, 2010, I received very poor customer service from Eurostar.

Earlier in the day, I lost my wallet. This is, of course, not Eurostar's fault but you can imagine that it was a distressing experience. When I arrived at Gare du Nord with a print out of my reservation including my booking number and payment information, and with my passport, I was told that without the credit card that I had used to book the ticket, my ticket could not be issued and that to travel to London on the same train, I would have to purchase a new ticket for EUR 245. I explained that I could not produce the card because it had been lost. Of course I expected a sympathetic response from Eurostar. Eurostar employees said there was nothing they could do except sell me another ticket.  They sent me to the SNCF as that was the issuing agency.  SNCF sent me back to Eurostar stating that Eurostar could issue a replacement boarding pass.

As I could prove that I had purchased a ticket, as I had the booking reference and as I had identification to prove who I was, I found this policy on the part of Eurostar not to issue a replacement boarding pass to be bureaucratic and unresponsive to my already distressing situation. I am a frequent Eurostar traveller and did not expect to be treated this way by your company.

Therefore, I ask that you refund the ticket which I was forced to purchase to get home when it was clear to everyone that I had already purchased a ticket. The booking reference for the ticket I was forced to buy to get home was QHKGHJ.  
I look forward to hearing from you.