Good afternoon, thank you for calling Eurostar. Kathy speaking, how can I help?

Hello. I am a wheelchair user, I am wanting please to book wheelchair space and assistance for a trip, also if possible a hotel.

OK. First of all, the hotel can be booked directly online. OKt is not something that is booked over the phone. On our website, eurostar.com. OK, now in term of the wheelchair, if you cannot walk more than 200 metres unaided then you would have to have the wheelchair space, which can be booked online again, or over the phone.

OK I need the wheelchair space. Online it wouldn't let me book the hotel as it wouldn't let me specify an accessible room. But I don't just need the wheelchiar space, I also need to book assistance with ramps and so on please, at the stations.

OK that is fine, then. With the hotel im really sorry but we do not book hotels over the phone any more, the only option is to book online. With the wheelchair space, if you give me the dates and times I will be able to check availability.

Yes please, I am travelling from London St Pancras to Amsterdam Central, going out on the 8th February, returning on the 10th February. I am still working out the practicaliities; how much earlier than the departure time do I have to present myself at the station please?

OK, one hour before departure. Now I can have a look at the availability to Brussels; not able to do any more wheelchair space from Brussels onwards - that would have to be booked via SNCB.

But your system online will quite happily let me buy a through ticket to Amsterdam!

OK, is that the wheelchair ticket?

I don't know but if it will let me book a standard ticket but not a wheelchair ticket then that is discriminatory!

OK I will have to put you on hold then, as far as I am aware we dont have the facility to book a wheelchair ticket all the way to Amsterdam. I am going to put you on hold.

OK. The company had better find a way to enable me to book all the way through just like a non-disabled person, or they will be on the wrong end of a lawsuit, and that's no threat.

Right, OK, do you mind if I put you on hold?

OK please go ahead,

Thank you. Holding... Still holding... Still holding... I've talked to the manager, and the procedure is as I said. We can book to Brussels and then you have to contact voyages-sncf.com.

OK, so to be clear: You can book non-wheelchair users direct from London to Amsterdam, but wheelchair users have to book half of it with SNCF?

voyages-sncf. Yes, because we don't have a licence to book the onward jounrney to Brussels and Amsterdam. We just don't have the licence to sell that ticket.

But you can sell it for non-wheelchair users? I've just tried online and it was quite happy to let me book all the way through in one go from London to Amsterdam.

Yes.

That's astonishing. You will want to get your legal department involved. Non-wheelchair users can book all the way through from London to Amsterdam in one ticket on Eurostar, but wheelchair users have to book half with Eurostar then book the other half with SNCF. Astonishing. It is rare that I see such a straightforward case of discrimination. Eurostar will regret this and I am not kidding.

Well I am personally very sorry. I am only giving you the information.

My problem isn't with you, as is clear above I am criticising Eurostar. Please put me through to somebody who can change this.

There isn't anyone. I'm sorry, there is no one here who can change that. It's to do with a licence, it's not something in their power they can do. There's not a specific person I can give contact details to, but i can give you an email if you wish to contact about this.

Well, OK, but it had better not be customer relations because this is a legal issue and not a customer relations issue.

It's an email, they will esculate it if they can to the appropriate people, but I don't have any information for anyone else.

OK. I will take that and write a letter before action. But can I ask how you personally feel about this? That your company allows non-wheelchair users to book train tickets straight through from London to Amsterdam, but doesn't have the facility to book such tickets for wheelchair users? Does that surprise or upset you? It does me.

All I can say is I've given you the information about what is possible. It's not my place to make any comment.

That's very professional of you but I hope that you are going to do something about this yourself as well, after all it's you that has to tell wheelchair users that they can't book the same tickets the same way as non-wheelchair users. It would be on your moral duty to kick off about this as well.

I cant comment on that.

Yeah OK. So there is nobody I can speak to who can make the situation alright?

There's no one here who can change the licence to be able to sell the onward journey part on a wheelchair space. I'm sorry, there is no one here who can do that. All I can do is give you the email address.

OK. Please give me the email address, send me a copy of the license conditions that prevent you from being able to book a wheelchair space all the way through like you can for a standard ticket, and get somebody to contact me who can change that.

Email is contactus@eurostar.com. Secondly I dont have that information I'm afraid, I just don't have that information.

OK well, please send me a copy of the policy and procedures for wheelchair users wishing to book all the way through from London to Amsterdam.

All the terms and conditions are on the website. I don't have licencing information, you need to take that further in the email.

The email address is to the standard customer relations call handlers?

Yes, but they can esculate it onwards.

And how long will that take, given that I want to book this ticket this afternoon?

I can't make any guarantees on this.

So please explain what you are suggesting. I book a ticket to Brussels with you, then I book a ticket from Brussels to Amsterdam with SNCF?

That is the procedure. I've checked with manager, you can book online to brussles and onward journey you book with SNCF.

Will the two tickets work out at the same price as a single straight through ticket?

Well thats something I can't tell you, how much the Voyage-SNCF will be. I don't have that pricing information. If you want to, go and check on the SNCF website.

OK. Well, let's see. I have just selected two tickets on your website from London to Amsterdam, leaving on the 8th and returning on the 10th, for two of us that would be 276. How much please would it be from London to Brussells on those trains, on the 8th leaving London at 15:04, and on the 10th returning to London arriving at 16:05, two of us.

OK one moment. Is it wheelchair and companion?

Yes, correct.

OK one moment, bear with me please. For the wheelchair I have to tell you the ticket conditions. Non-refundable but exchangeable before departure with a fee of 30.00 per leg per change, plus fare difference. It's 58.00 from London to Brussels ... one second ... that would also be 58.00 for companion with non refundable but exchangeable before departure, so that would be 116.00.

Is that return, or is that the single?

That's return.

Thank you. So that would be 116 all in?

Yes.

OK, let's do that please. Would you mind please going through the practicalities with me, i.e. the times, also where I have to be and when?

OK so in terms of booking, I have to make two separate bookings with two difference booking references. You will get two emails. You can print the tickets from those emails. You need to be at the station one hour before departure. You need to go to the assistance desk in London, near to the business premier check in, an hour before departure and they will offer assistance. I will put on the bookings you need a ramp. Now the details of the booking: outbound 8th February leaving london 15.04 getting to Brussels at 18.05, coming back on the 10th February leaving Brussels at 14.56 and arriving London 16.05. They're the details, so I need both passengers' first names and surnamess, the card details and the billing address.

(snip details)

OK, any other questions?

How do I go about booking wheelchair assistance and space and tickets with SNCF please?

OK, today online at voyages-sncf.com otherwise if you want to speak to someone on the phone you have to wait till tomorrow and ring them on 0844 848 5848, open from 9am to 7pm.

OK, can I book assistance with them online? And the wheelchair space?

I don't know. I'm afraid. You have to check with them. I'm sorry.

OK. It frustrates me that everything is ten times more difficult and complicated as a wheelchair user. Mr Fred Bloggs the non-wheelchair user can just go online and book it all in one fell swoop, or on the phone, but wheelchair users have to pfaf about buying separate tickets from separate people, and never the twain shall meet. It's VERY frustrating, and shouldn't happen with society today. But my issue is with the system and not with you personally, and I want to make that clear. ga

Thank you for saying that. I'm sorry, there's nothing more I can say.

OK. So tickets are booked, and they'll come by email and I can print them off?

Exactly, yes.

OK, thank you for your help.

You're welcome, thanks for calling today.