Whether Rail Europe is cheating Indian customers

Whether Rail Europe is cheating Indian customers

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Posts: 13. This thread is closed.
Anjan
Anjan
27 posts
active member
Apr 2, 2016 - 6:25 PM

I had booked one ticket for Rail journey from Paris to Basel (3 Adults) by 10.23 TGV Lyria 9211 from Paris Gare Lyon to Basel on 05.07.2016. My credit card was debited by INR 12960 (INR 12348 as price of tickets plus booking fee of Rs.612). Booking reference : QNVNFW. Seat Nos. 75,76 & 77, Coach no.18.

I was handed the tickets in which the price of each ticket was printed as $49 per head, which was equivalent to INR 3245 (Today's price -> $1 = INR 66.23) i.e., Rail Europe took Rs.3225 (Rs.12960 - Rs.3245 x3) extra. In the website www.raileurope.com, Rail Europe is not charging any booking fee, but in www.raileurope.co.in, Rail Europe charged me a booking fee of INR 612 for this ticket. I think that Rail Europe is cheating Indian Customers in a planned way. Rail Europe should be banned from all activities.

I have the proof to prove my allegation. I am enclosing the copy of railway journey tickets issued by www.raileurope.co.in.

I gave a letter to Rail Europe stating :

"I have booked one ticket for Rail journey from Paris to Basel (3 Adults) by 10.23 TGV Lyria 9211 from Paris Gare Lyon to Basel on 05.07.2016 by INR 12960 (INR 12348 plus booking fee of Rs.612). Booking reference : QNVNFW. Seat Nos. 75,76 & 77, Coach no.18,

For the last few days, I checked with your website raileurope.com and found that you were giving the same ticket at $49 per head (without any booking fee), which is equivalent to INR 3245 (Today's price -> $1 = INR 66.23) i.e., you took Rs.3225 (Rs.12960 - Rs.3245 x3) extra. You are cheating Indian people. If you do not reply, we shall complain to Competition Commission of India and other websites of return us the european countries.

This is my second letter to you.

Thanks

Anjan Ghosh"

They replied :

"Dear Anjan,
Greetings from Rail Europe!!

We would like to inform you that as per the managing railways the discounts are decided by them, we cannot comment on it. However, when you made the booking the discount was not available, hence you did not receive it.

Regards,

Rail Europe
"

www.trenitalia.in is also charging Indian people an administration charge, whereas www.trenitalia.com is not charging anything extra.

Now you decide whether Rail Europe is cheating or not.

Thanks

A Ghosh

Please login to see the attached documents
sskundu
sskundu
127 posts
active member
Apr 3, 2016 - 5:56 AM in reply to Anjan

Hello Anjan,

You did not notice that you actually paid in Euro and not in Dollar. The PDF you have attached shows Euro 49 as the ticket prices whose today rate is Euro 1 = Rs. 77.45. That ways your told prices comes to around Rs. 11k + booking fees. So you should be good.

Arno
Arno
7722 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 3, 2016 - 7:20 AM in reply to Anjan

Hi Anjan,

Thanks for sharing your experiences here. I'm sorry you feel you paid too much for the tickets. Although we're not Rail Europe I will try to provide some meaningful feedback:

If I understand you correctly you paid INR 12960 but as the tickets show only € 49 per ticket (so € 147 = about INR 11000 in total) you feel you have paid too much.

You also mentioned prices in US$ you found on the raileurope.com website. Please note that this is a website selling to people in North America. Most of what they offer can only be sold to people in North America (a few exceptions apply). Even though both raileurope.com and raileurope.co.in are Rail Europe sites, they are separate sites and organisations. They're less related than they seem to be, and each has its own prices, promotions and conditions. Furthermore, there are other websites selling the same tickets. You don't have to buy from Rail Europe India. The page myswissalps.com/ traintickets/france/ price lists various options for the country you're currently in (in your case India). So you can buy from any of the others too, like captaintrain.com for example.

I do agree it's a bit weird that tickets show a different price than the amount you actually paid. I think that's because Rail Europe is a sales organisation and does not operate trains. They just sell tickets, like many of the other websites. The original tickets, in this case, are priced in €, so that might explain this. Local websites like the Rail Europe India site offer payment in the local currency, and often a local help desk as well, so that's why you may pay a different price. They take the exchange rate risk away from the customer and booking fees might be a way to cover that.

I assume the shopping cart showed the exact amount you were about to pay. If not, that's definitely not good. If it did, I don't think they're cheating. It's a matter of a complicated market with lots of options to choose from as a traveler. Many other Rail Europe websites (for Australia, Hong Kong, etc.) work in a similar way. This is not about Indian consumers. As a matter of fact, many of their websites, including the Indian one, often offer very low prices as well. Last year for example, Swiss rail passes for Indian customers were very cheap. Travelers from Europe could not buy a pass for those low prices, but it wasn't a matter of cheating European customers. Rail Europe happened to fix their prices before the €/CHF exchange rate went down. It was just a twitch in the market causing this.

I am not sure what Rail Europe means when they replied "when you made the booking the discount was not available, hence you did not receive it". Ticket prices for high speed trains like the one you booked change by the booking date, travel time & date and by promotions offered by ticket resellers or train operators. It may very well be possible that prices dropped between the moment you booked and the moment they actually issued your tickets. The reverse could have happened as well, and they would not have charged you extra in such a case. I think this is what happened, but please ask Rail Europe if you'd like to verify.

Again, we're not Rail Europe. I do know a bit more about the market than the average traveler. I can definitely confirm that this market is complex, which can easily result in a bad experience. Nevertheless, I hope the above was helpful. And I hope you'll have a very pleasant trip!

Last modified on Apr 3, 2016 - 7:31 AM by Annika
sskundu
sskundu
127 posts
active member
Apr 3, 2016 - 7:33 AM in reply to Arno

Hi Arno,

From what Anjan mentions in his original post, he calculated the price to be $49 instead of Euro 49. The attached PDF shows he was charged in Euro and not dollars. I too have booked Paris - Geneva TGV and its in Euro as well. That explains the difference he is wrongly getting.

Anjan
Anjan
27 posts
active member
Apr 3, 2016 - 9:38 AM in reply to sskundu

Okay, friends,. sorry I am. I mistook Euros with Dollars. Hence thanks to sskundu and Arno for correcting me.

Arno and sskundu, though I was wrong, still I had to pay Rs.12960. If 1 Euro = INR 77.45, still the price for our ticket stands = INR 49 X 3 X 77.45 = INR 11385.15, where Rail Europe charged me INR 12960, a difference of INR 1574.85.

Arno, you are right. I thought that as this site is giving tickets in Indian Rupees (INR), it will be helpful to us. There will be no difficulty with foreign currency. We simply believed in them and bought tickets. Later, I found the difference, when I again went to book tickets from Venice to Florence.

Arno, I could not understand why different sites of Rail Europe will sell the same tickets in different prices. Particularly, in my case, the difference is quite high. Why there will be a difference? Difference may be in nature of currency conversion rates. I came to know later that I am allowed to buy a ticket from any site in Indian currency.

I also bought tickets from www.trenitalia.com. At first, I checked with www.trenitalia.in. I found that they are charging an administration fee of 3 euros per head. I found that www.trenitalia.com is not charging extra for the same railway journey tickets.

As most of us are simple Indians and have less knowledge about the modern technologies, we certainly did not verify with different sites and simply believe in these sites and think that these sites should be good and will not cheat us. Can you explain why there will be an administration fee of 3 euros per head?

Late, I became smarter and purchased the same tickets from www.trenitalia.com and did not have to give the extra 3 Euros per head.

Moreover, www.raileurope.co.in takes a variable booking fee which is not being charged in www.raileurope.com. Why there will be a booking fee?

Please advise whether I am wrong or right that Rail Europe is cheating Indian customers.

One request. I know that this is not the site for railway tickets. However, you now know the incident happened with me. I found that a lot of Indians take help of this site. Please make them aware that www.raileurope.in and www.trenitalia.in may charge them extra bucks.

thanks

Anjan

Arno
Arno
7722 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 3, 2016 - 11:19 AM in reply to Anjan

Thanks for your reply Anjan. I can't explain why Rail Europe has different websites with different policies. I think that's how they try to service different markets with different needs. It's Rail Europe's decision and only they can explain this. I do agree that things can become pretty complex and confusing because of that, but I'm sure they have their reasons.

As I said in my previous post, there are multiple websites selling the same tickets. It's up to them what they charge and which additional services they offer. Actually it's not different from plane tickets or even buying a laptop: one can buy the same device in many stores at different prices. It's up to the customer to make a choice. That's why we have so many pages listing multiple retailers for rail passes and tickets, so people can easily compare. This page also provides some background information. Although it's about passes, most applies to tickets as well.

Rail Europe is not cheating Indian customers. They have the same policy in other countries as well, and almost all travel products can also be purchased from other companies, so you always have a choice. In some cases they're more expensive, in other cases they're cheaper. I think a similar explanation applies to the Trenitalia sites you mentioned. The Indian site probably costs them more because of prices in INR and possibly a help desk, so they may cover that with booking fees. Again, that's their decision and there are alternatives.

sskundu
sskundu
127 posts
active member
Apr 3, 2016 - 11:22 AM in reply to Anjan

Hi Anjan,

Rail Europe India normally charges the booking fees per person. I have booked TGV Lyria from Paris to Geneva and they charged booking fees for two. You should always book tickets from the company's original website i.e. the country to which it belongs (e.g. Trenitalia belong to Italy, Swiss Railways is Swiss etc.). Most of these international websites have English language to choose for convenience of customers unless its a local website (like mobile phone sites).

When you use the country's website, you get the prices in their currency with all taxes included. Using an India credit card, you will be charged the day's conversion rate and a 3% markup charge for foreign transaction but in many cases would still end up paying less compared to what you pay with the company's India version website (Rail Europe India etc.) This, as per my thought, is because these companies include the mark up charges + services charges everything in that additional fee on the pretext of providing you the convenience of paying in INR. Simply put, they are giving you the facility of paying in INR without bothering about anything hence charging you additional fees. Its a sugar coated booking fees.

A simple comparison I found is with the Swiss Travel Pass. I booked it from the www.sbb.ch/en official website where it costed me CHF 502 (2 adults, 4-days, 2nd class). With CHF 1 = Rs. 69.11 (today), this when converted to INR would be Rs. 34693.22. Considering bank rates are a little more plus 3% markup. I multiplied the CHF by Rs. 72 and still get Rs. 36144 (will be more or less around the same value ; waiting for my card statement). But Rail Europe is selling the same Swiss Travel Pass for 2 adults in 2nd Class and 4-days for Rs. 37580 and a promotional discount of Rs. 800 for MySwissAlps people which makes it Rs. 36,780. Still I save about 600 - 1000 from SBB site.

Last modified on Apr 3, 2016 - 11:34 AM by sskundu
Anjan
Anjan
27 posts
active member
Apr 3, 2016 - 2:34 PM in reply to sskundu

Dear sskundu and Arno,

I wish to add that I searched different websites and found that on 25.03.2016, the conversion rate of 1 Euro was INR 74.579. So the calculation would be 49 X 3 x INR 74.579 = INR 10,964,instead of INR 11385, which I calculated before. sskundu, as you said of 3%,then the 3% will be INR 10964 x 3% = INR 329. Total = INR 10964 + 329 = INR 11293. Besides booking fee, they charged INR 1384 extra, which is 12.62%. of INR 10964.

I just checked with www.raileurope.com to check the price of Paris - Basel tickets for 3 heads. There was no booking fee (Order #: 35139695). I don't know what will be the converted amount.

What I understand that I made a mistake chosing www.raileurope.in.

With thanks

Anjan

KushalDave
KushalDave
10 posts
new member
Apr 4, 2016 - 6:31 AM in reply to Anjan

Hi Anjan,

Did you try captaintrain.com, I booked few days back and found that it is way cheaper than raileurope.com or .co.in.

KushalDave
KushalDave
10 posts
new member
Apr 4, 2016 - 6:32 AM in reply to Anjan

Suggest you to go through myswissalps thread and seat61.com thoroughly before booking any tickets.

Anjan
Anjan
27 posts
active member
Apr 4, 2016 - 11:32 AM in reply to KushalDave

Sorry, Kushal. I didn't have much idea. I never imazined that such a wellknown co. can play tricks. I was a layman.

However thank you for your advice.

Anjan

Last modified on Apr 4, 2016 - 11:33 AM by Anjan
sskundu
sskundu
127 posts
active member
Apr 4, 2016 - 12:24 PM in reply to Anjan

Hi Anjan,

As I suggested earlier, always use the country's website for booking even if you have to pay in Foreign Currency. In one way, all conversions would be taken care / done by your bank, that ways you are sure you won't be overcharged.

Anjan
Anjan
27 posts
active member
Apr 4, 2016 - 1:51 PM in reply to sskundu

Thanks, sskundu.

Anjan

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