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BEWARE OF EURAIL PASS!!

Just FYI:

One of my kids could not join us on our trip, so instead of 4 adults, we changed the ticket to 3 adults.

The whole Eurailpass had to be sent back to Newton Center, MA and guess what? I got back a measly $30 for his 4 day/2 month ticket (we paid $290).

My STRONG suggestion: Do NOT buy Eurailpasses. They offer NO flexibility. They WILL rip you off the minute you change anything. Then you have to pay extra for reservations. Read the fine print, if you fill them out incorrectly, they could void your ticket.

The Eurailpass has become OBSOLETE IMHO.

Better to just pay as you go while you're in Europe!!!

Posted by
174 posts

I'm sorry to hear about your troubles with EuroRail.

I'm curious, why did you have to change your pass? Did you each have an individual pass or a group pass? It is my understanding that you get 85% of the pass refunded (if purchased from EuRail).

I have a Global Pass for my travels in August and with the exception of 2-3 reservation fees it seems like the best option and offers extreme flexibility, at least as far as travel is concerned.

Again, sorry to hear of your negative experience.

Posted by
18056 posts

In 2000 I bought my last railpass (a German Rail pass, not a Eurail pass. I feel I barely made it pay, considering the trains I used. Today, I feel I could have selected slightly different trains and saved even more. Since then, I have made five more trips to Europe, all without a railpass, and my detailed analyses have always shown that I saved $$$.

That is not too say that you can always save money with p-p tickets vs a railpass, but it is worth doing the analysis to find out.

Posted by
495 posts

The advantage (or not) of the pass depends on your circumstances.

If I were to go to my local train station and buy a ticket for immediate travel to London it would cost me £189.50 round trip, that's about $375 in American, for one journey.

I can see at least one advantage in 4 days unlimited train travel for $290...

Posted by
18 posts

We had to change the pass because my son decided he didn't want to go. BTW - I was told by EURAIL that if you show up at a ticket window with a Eurailpass and the full party isn't there, the whole pass is void!! IOW, we HAD to re-issue the ticket!

We puchased "1" Eurailpass that included the names of 4 people: me, my wife and 2 sons. $290 x 4 = $1160. The 15% re-issue fee was on the TOTAL ticket (not just his ticket): so I lost $174 for re-issuing the ticket.

Then when they re-issued the ticket, they bumped the price of each ticket from $290 to $306, and charged me $25 in fees (shipping, handling, re-issue fee, etc).

In short, for taking off my one son's ticket ($290), I got back $30! 85%??? Suuuuuure!!

I'm not familiar with the "Global Pass", but after reading Rick Steves' book, and the comments here, I am convinced that the Eurailpass offers NO ADVANTAGE.

If you have to go to a ticket window to activate the damned thing, just buy the ticket using cash or credit right then and there! The Eurailpass is a rip off because it is waaaay too restrictive (and a rip-off if not used exactly as they want or if changes have to be made)!!

Spit!

Posted by
368 posts

Although I hate defending corporations when they provide crappy customer service (which this is), I think what they charged you makes sense.

You bought 1 group ticket with 4 people on it, not 4 individual tickets, so the %15 fee would apply to the one ticket, thus why you were dinged for the whole value of the ticket. You could have bought the 4 individual tickets and mitigated that risk, but you would have paid more up front.

When re-issuing the ticket (i.e., they give you a new one for 3 instead of 4 people), they charge you what their rate is as of then, not what it was in the past. They purchase these passes from the EU rail systems, so they are charged what market is as of that moment. As well, since they had to send you a new ticket and process it, they would charge you the service fees (this should have been waived in my opinion, but it is in their right to charge you for it).

Since the ticket changes were initiated by you and not them, they have the right to apply whatever contract you got in with them when purchasing the tickets.

I suppose if you spoke with the right person you might be able to reduce some of the charges if they have the power (but I am just guessing as some companies have zero wiggle room when it comes to stuff like this). There is no law that says a company has to provide any sort of 'money back guarantee' when they are not in the wrong.

Now, whether or not the Eurail passes are worth it is another story...

Posted by
11798 posts

I agree to some extent. Traveling smart often eliminates any price advantage for purchasing a rail pass.

Also if you have a rail pass, don't burn days if you aren't doing enough traveling to justify spending a day.

I know German rail better than the other systems. If you can travel after rush hour and are happy with local trains the Lander tickets or Schoenes Wochende tickets are a much better deal. When I travel on the Rhine or Mosel, I prefer the slower local trains because they stop at the towns I want to visit. I can hop-on-hop-off at my convenience.

Posted by
18 posts

Jon -

I not saying anything Eurail did was illegal.

All I'm saying is they're a buch of shysters!

Most companies have a restock fee where 15% comes off the top from whatever you return.

In the case of this lousy piece of paper, they virtually TOOK 90% and gave me back 10%!!

I spoke with them over the phone, and they couldn't do any bette than this.

THERE IS NO ADVANTAGE IN PURCHASING A EURAILPASS.

Posted by
18 posts

Peter -

You're right, they do depend on your circumstances.

In your cicumstance, I don't even think you can purchase a Eurail pass (correct me if I'm wrong). Also, in your circumstance, petrol is twice the price than it is here.

My circumstance is a family of 4 puchasing a Eurail pass, and then one 19 year old kid deciding he can't go. I wonder how common something like that is?

And if it happens to anyone else, expect to eat the 4th ticket. Mind you, it isn't enough to travel to Europe without the 4th person and $290 poorer, you MUST re-issue the ticket according to their rules (if you can figure them out)

http://www.ricksteves.com/rail/howrailworks.htm

How much more would it be to travel w/o the pass a just purchase tickets at the window? I bet it isn't a whole lot more, and perhaps, even cheaper!

Posted by
495 posts

Like you say, it depends on the journey.

I gave the price of a trip from the North of England to London. Buying the pass would give a saving in the hundreds of dollars per person over buying at the station.

Point to point train ticket prices are easy to find so it doesn't take much effort to make an informed choice. If you can live with the restrictive refund policy a eurail pass can save Americans a lot of money.

It doesn't really make sense to make one-size-fits-all, absolute judgements about this sort of thing. In certain circumstances they are an amazing deal, other times less so.

Posted by
18 posts

Kim,

Thanks. We will be enjoying the trip, but if I see a rip-off, I'm not going to play dead. I think people who are contemplating purchasing a Eurail pass (like I did) need to understand what they're getting into.
And frankly, it isn't clear how much one saves buy purchasing a Eurail ticket. The experts only allude to the possibility of paying less in-country.

I knew these tickets were laden with restrictions, but it didn't occur to me to buy 4 individual Eurail tickets.

"It is also important to read the fine print in contracts."

Yes I know. I guess everyone needs to be a lawyer in this day and age.

Posted by
8293 posts

I have what I know will be an unpopular take on this. The son "didn't want to go", this after, no doubt many family conversations about a trip to Europe. Maybe the son should help to repay his father for this added expense, caused solely by him "not wanting to go".

Posted by
18 posts

Norma,

I agree. Rest assured, I'll be discussing this issue with him.

Posted by
495 posts

"And frankly, it isn't clear how much one saves buy purchasing a Eurail ticket. The experts only allude to the possibility of paying less in-country."

I fail to see the great mystery here. Every European country has on line sites where you can plan train routes, get prices and even buy tickets. It's the work of minutes to find out exactly how much "in-country" tickets will cost. Some itineraries will be cheaper buying point to point but this information is easily available and not kept secret.

Posted by
18 posts

Peter -

Thanks. However, what takes you "minutes" may take someone else a few hours more. A middle-aged American parent such as myself may not be so accustomed to using European transportation websites and they take time to get used to. (Hence, the attraction to Eurail passes.)

But I agree with you, one should get actual prices to determine the actual "huge savings" the Eurail pass professes to provide. I, unfortunately, didn't do that, so I wonder how many other American Eurail pass purchasers did their "homework" in this regard?

Posted by
4555 posts

Joe....that's what's so good about this forum. We see countless suggestions from people that they check p2p versus Eurail passes, offer the sites where prices can be checked....and many of the volunteers will actually help people price out their itineraries so they can make an informed decision. Don't hesitate to ask, people....someone out there can offer advice!

Posted by
18 posts

Norm -

The forum is great. I've been using it quite a bit.

But the Eurail pass, as far as I'm concerned, is not worth the headache, and has the potential of being a rip-off. Now that I understand how restrictive the Eurailpass is, I wouldn't buy it unless I knew for a certainty there will not be any changes.

That may be easy for some of us, but apparently not for me.

Posted by
7 posts

I've purchased Eurail Select tix 11 times. I've never doubted their savings. Granted, I haven't tried to change/reprice them; however, in 11 different trips I've never failed to save money versus P2P tix. The convenience of "get on / get off" and the enjoyment of riding the rails cannot be priced. I have become a bit annoyed at the mandatory reservation trains (seems more each year and the price always goes up) but have worked around it by taking slower trains or more scenic routes. By the way, your comment about "rip off" gets a bit annoying after about the 5th time you use it.

Posted by
18 posts

Norm -

You've purchased a Eurail pass 11 times?! Wow, I'm impressed!

I know this may annoy you, but any company that REQUIRES a re-issue of tickets for a no-show passenger, and then feels it necessary to only credit you 19% of the lost ticket is a TOTAL RIP-OFF!

Good luck on your 12th trip!

Posted by
4555 posts

Joe....not me....I haven't used a Eurail pass since the late 70's.....far cheaper in most cases to purchase P2P.

Posted by
189 posts

Don't know much about Eurail passes (though at the beginning of planning our trip I thought we'd get one) but when I emailed Rick's transportation department, they suggested we do point-to-point even though we are going to four countries.

Now, that seems pretty honest to me.

Sorry you've had this problem. Have you tried going to www.elliot.org? Just found him but he seems to help a lot of travelers.

Posted by
18 posts

Doreen, Norm,

Thanks. Hey, losing $250 bucks is nothing compared to the money I'm going to drop on this trip, so I'm not sweating it.

Live and learn, right?

I'm just posting this to:

1.) Let off steam.

2.) Save the next unsuspecting schmuck a few hundred dollars.

3.) Make friends;0)

Regards!

Posted by
18 posts

Norm - sorry for the mix-up!

Just FYI, years ago when I was young man of 24, I bought a Eurail pass for $300 for UNLIMITED travel throughout Europe for ONE MONTH.

I 'spose those days are gone!