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Poor cancellation policy for Rail Europe tickets purchased through: ricksteves.mytraintravel.com/

I have attempted to obtain a full refund of my tickets for travel on March 20th from Zurich to Florence with a change of trains in Milan. Because of the Coronavirus and Italian lock-down of Italy these will be unusable. So far a refund is being refused by Rail Europe which is disappointing because of the association and likely revenue obtained by Rick through the ricksteves.mytraintravel.com link I used to purchase them.

Posted by
6202 posts

Rail Europe is a US company which charges more tickets than the train companies abroad. Have you called them? Have you called Rick Steves office?

Posted by
11929 posts

The irony is if you had bought the tickets from Trenitalia you would be eligible for a credit voucher ( but not a refund).

But maybe there is a way to claim for the MIlan to Florence portion anyway, you have the PNR code. See my post about Trenitalia refunds. The offer has been updated in accordance with the March 9 "lockdown" to include travel dates through March, for ticket to or from MIlan and other " red zone" areas.

Posted by
2773 posts

What type of ticket did you purchase? Did you read RailEurope"s refund policy before you purchased? Have you complied with the required steps if a refund (full refund is highly unlikely) is allowed? Rick's company has nothing to do with the RailEurope cancellation/refund policies; which in turn are also affected by the individual train companies policies.

Posted by
8889 posts

The trains are still running, they have not been cancelled (that is as of today, Tue 10th March, things are changing daily).
From the SBB (Swiss Railways) website (German only): https://news.sbb.ch/artikel/95750/coronavirus-extrazuege-fuer-grossveranstaltungen-fallen-aus

Update, 8. März 2020: Die grenzüberschreitenden Züge der SBB von und nach Italien verkehren nach Fahrplan. Die italienischen Behörden haben keine Einschränkungen angeordnet.
Update 8th March 2020: The SBB cross-border trains to Italy are running to the timetable.The Italian authorities have not requested any reductions.

The Trenitalia (Italian Railways) has info in Italian only: https://www.trenitalia.com/it/informazioni/coronavirus-provvedimenti-.html
Google translation here: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.trenitalia.com%2Fit%2Finformazioni%2Fcoronavirus-provvedimenti-.html
It is basically saying extra disinfection is being done, only a few trains cancelled.

Technically since you (presumably) bought non-refundable tickets, the train companies are still honouring your tickets, so no refund. If the Italian government says you cannot travel, legally that is not the rail companies' fault.
And since you are dealing with a middle-man (RailEurope) that makes things more difficult.
My guess is that SBB and Trenitalia will have to start offering refunds soon, how that will work with RailEurope in the middle is a good question.

Posted by
5 posts

Yes, I have contacted twice via the web form with no response and twice by phone with the best offer of only a partial refund as of yesterday.

@CJean This is hardly a normal cancellation issue which would be subject to the regular policies, as the service is unable to be provided as of the March 9th order of the Italian government, and is clearly beyond my control. Rail Europe was acting as the agent for these tickets and they are the ones that should be responsible.

Thanks for the links Chris F. I have been very surprised at the slow reaction to this crisis at the southern border by the Swiss government.
"Trenitalia is the primary train operator in Italy. A subsidiary of Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, itself owned by the Italian government"

Posted by
11929 posts

I emailed SBB yesterday regarding our Brig to Milan ticket for today. They have responded that I will be getting a refund back to my credit card.

I sent the web forms to Trenitalia on February 29 regarding our Milan to Naples trip (scheduled for tomorrow);

I received an email acknowledgement that said the action could take up to 30 days. These were Frecce trains so should get a credit for future travel. No refunds.

Posted by
5 posts

@Wally, While Rail Europe was the agent for the tickets it should be noted that ricksteves.mytraintravel.com is where the booking by Rail Europe "in cooperation with Rick Steves" was made. I am not expecting Rick to make the refund, but he should be made aware of his business partners practices to protect his own reputation.

Posted by
123 posts

I'm sure Rick is aware of Rail Europe's refund/cancellation policy. I bet if you follow their procedure you would get partial refund/credit, or whatever their policy states.

Posted by
16817 posts

Train ticket refunds follow a complex set of rules, both their original rules, and any special provisions currently offered due to the Coronavirus, both set by the separate European railway operators. See the latest listing of special refunds as summarized by Rail Europe, which has been changing every day.

They ask you to "apply" through the online refund system, but that still may require some manual processing to finish. I'm not sure that it means each case can be completed while online. If the tickets were not electronic but delivered to you by UPS, then they'll have to be returned.

Given the destination of your route, I'd be surprised if they are refusing a refund. If you provide me with your booking number, contact info, and the exact response from Rail Europe, then I may be able follow up with them.

Posted by
16817 posts

I also advise everyone holding tickets that if your train ticket type or area is not currently on the above linked list for special refunds, then wait a few days and check again. It can take time for various railways to update and publish policies relevant to your travel dates and travel area, especially when their trains are still running.