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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Eurostar accused of profiteering

As Mount ‘Unpronounceable’ continues to erupt in Iceland, causing more chaos across the skies in Europe, Eurostar has been one of the winners, as people desperately try and return to the UK from their holidays.

According to the Telegraph this morning though, Eurostar has not only benefited from increased business it has been charging a minimum of £223 for a single journey from Paris to London. Normally, you can buy a return ticket for as little as £69. Eurostar denies it is profiteering, but this is complete nonsense. Of course it is, and I always think it is good to remind companies who do this that in a free market they can charge what they like. At the same time, I am also free to decide who I wish to travel with and the next time I travel to northern Europe I will not be travelling with Eurostar, and never will again.

The public tend to remember those companies who like to rip them off when the chips our down. When life returns to normal, I hope many will kick Eurostar in the place where it hurts most.


noam975 said...

This is nonsense, your argument means consumers are going to be hit twice, as when things return to normal consumers shall not consider travelling with Eurostar at "normal" competitive prices (which would be irrational indeed). Moreover, if such was the case, this will push up air fares as well, as airlines will take advantage of consumers change of preferences in that Eurostar won't constitute an effective competitive constraint (because of disgruntled consumer)!
And by the way, airlines did probably the same when Eurostar services were down for a week or so.
There is no market self correction here, the only way to deter this prifiteering is through public intervention.

Andrew Allison said...

Have the ferry companies been accused of profiteering? I haven't heard anything. If more people chose to travel by air, then more services would be provided to cope with the demand. Of course airlines tried to profiteer when Eurostar services were down, but some were worse than others.

Consumers would not be hit twice. I will merely put my business elsewhere. This is my right and the right of all consumers

James D said...

This all relates to Eurostar's worst French practice: compulsory seat reservations, apart from between Lille and Brussels (where the sensible Belgian policy applies). The British government could quite easily stop this silliness by joining with the SNCB against the SNCF in treating Eurostar like a railway, not an airline.

Ultimately, come some disruption, passengers would much rather be standing for two hours, drinking the buffet dry, than camped out on some station overnight.

Andrew Allison said...

Very true, James. No-one likes standing on a crowded train for a long time, but at least you get to your destination.

the wilted rose said...

I actually think Eurostar, P&O and the rest are the heroes as they're actually getting Britain moving (unlike our zombie government, in purdah, canvassing).

I paid £145 for a ticket from London to get home to Darlington on Friday, not having expected to have to get back from Heathrow then.

As for the compulsory seat reservation policy, - while it should be relaxed until the crisis is over, - it just shows you that the French aren't prepared to have trains crammed full with passengers as we are. Their high speed railways are amongst the best in the world. And as for ours...

Andrew Allison said...

All companies are going to put their prices up, I just don't like the size of this hike from Eurostar.

Tony Blair once said that Britain had nothing to learn from the French and Germans when it comes to running a railway. Well, every time I travel in either France or Germany I leave on time and arrive on time, in general comfort, and the high speed railways are brilliant. As you say, the same cannot be said of the UK.

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