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I wonder if the SNCF website qualifies for the worst, least user friendly website in France - and let's be honest it has plenty of competition! I have previously booked train tickets using the site without too many problems. However, somebody has apparently decided to make it almost impossible to use. I entered all the details ok until I got to putting my UK address and then found that it would not accept more than five didgits for the postcode. There are two odd things about this. Firstly, I have previously been able to enter the full postcode, and secondly this is the English version of the website and presumably they would expect people from the UK to be using it. I then had an idea. I had previously set up an account with SNCF and assumed that they would have retained all my details [otherwise what would be the point of the account]. So I logged into this account. The first thing it did was delete all the information I had already entered. Great. And when I did finally get to the address details page, guess what, there were no personal details entered at all. When I got to the postcode once more it would only accept five digits. By now [45 minutes of stress later] I just gave up and put the postcode on a different line.

I hope you are following this, because it gets worse. I needed to book another ticket. I found a Prems ticket available and with Prems you can print the ticket yourself. Aha! I thought, no need to worry about the postcode. All went [reasonably] well until I got to the point where it said "print your ticket now". Clicked on this - nothing - blank screen. Went back to the previous page, clicked again, nothing. Went back to the previous page again where I'd noticed a contact link. Filled in all my details for the nth time, described the problem and clicked send. Message came up "page non trouve". By now I wanted to kill someone, for preference the website designer.

To cut a long story short, after another 45 stress filled minutes I eventually found a way out of this Kafkaesque nightmare.

Caveat emptor.

Patrick

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You should be able to buy French train tickets at Travel Centres on major UK stations.  I must admit, I too find the SNCF website really irritating, to the extent that I now drive into Le Mans where they have a shop, and book the tickets there, instead of fighting with their incredibly annoying so-called system!
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[quote user="bixy"]I wonder if the SNCF website qualifies for the worst, least user friendly website in France [/quote]

Patrick .........

You're absolutely right and it's more than a shame, because many would prefer to travel by train.

SNCF probably don't care much - Eurostar ought to (given their business difficulties).

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[quote user="Ian Horn"]

SNCF probably don't care much - Eurostar ought to (given their business difficulties).

[/quote]

 

Methinks Ian that you are confusing Eurostar with Eurotunnel - 2 separate companies, and only one of which is to all intents and purposes insolvent.

The only connection is that €star pay €tunnel charges to go through the tunnel.

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Yes, Ian a terrible shame, because at the moment there are some real bargains to be picked up. The powers that be are trying to revive the the interregional services - now branded Intercites, with a lot of publicity and special offers. but many of these offers are only available on the internet. Unless you are determined as I was, people will just give up.

Patrick

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I agree the website is not user friendly.  However, I do find that when you phone them, they are most helpful and will take all the time in the world to give you all the details you request.  They will review all the train schedules and fares, etc.  You can give them your credit card details and they will post you your tickets or you can take a reference number and bring the credit card you use to your most convenient SNCF boutique and pick up the tickets there.

I am told they have phone service in English too, though I haven't used it myself.

 

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But when you phone them, don't you have to pay 32 cents per minute (or however much it costs)???  I don't want to have to pay to phone them, when everything should be able to be done for free online.

I agree though, their website is terrible, I can't even count the number of times it's frozen on me and I've had to start all over again from the beginning!

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I have contatced SNCF about the problems mentioned by the OP and this is the response I've just received:

[quote]Madame Clair

Nous avons bien reçu votre message dans lequel vous nous faites part de vos remarques et regrettons les désagréments rencontrés sur le site.

Notre service de développement a en effet déjà été informé de ce dysfonctionnement et s'efforce de le corriger dans les meilleurs délais.

Dans l'attente , nous vous invitons à choisr un autre mode de retrait

Vous pouvez réserver sur notre site depuis l’étranger, selon les procédures suivantes :

Vous pouvez régler votre réservation en ligne, ainsi, vous pourrez retirer vos billets dans n’importe quelle gare SNCF en France uniquement (au guichet ou guichet automatique).

Si vous sélectionnez cette option, nous vous rappelons de :

•sélectionner FRANCE pour le pays de retrait des billets

•sélectionner retrait sur place. Vous devrez alors présenter votre référence et la carte bancaire utilisée pour le paiement, afin de pouvoir retirer vos billets.

Si vous réglez avec une carte American Express ou avec une carte étrangère sans puce électronique, vous pourrez retirer vos billets uniquement au guichet SNCF.

Certains tarifs comme les Prem’s ne permettent pas le retrait en gare.

Si vous réservez des billets Prem’s, Offre de Dernière Minute ou certains billets Thalys (tarifs Smilys et Print & Go et voyages au départ et à destination de l’Allemagne seulement), vous pourrez sélectionner l’option Billet Imprimé®.

Vous pourrez ainsi imprimer votre billet à domicile.

Ces tarifs nécessitent également un paiement en ligne.

Si vous choisissez le paiement en ligne, nous vous informons que les cartes de crédit internationales sont acceptées, excepté Diner’s Club.

Toutefois, si vous souhaitez l'envoi à domicile , nous vous invitons à vous rapprocher de la Ligne Directe de la SNCF au numéro de téléphone suivant :

0 33 892 35 35 35 puis #31pour etre mis en contact avec un agent SNCF

Cordialement,

--

Laurence

Service technique

www.voyages-sncf.com

--------------------------------------

Quand on veut utiliser le guide des usagers en ANGLAIS, le lien ouvre le guide en français (vois page d'accueil).

La case "code postal" en ANGLAIS n'accepte qu'un maximum de 5 lettres/chiffres, mais les codes postaux anglais en ont au moins 7...

Mrs Clair
[/quote]

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I knew that they would send me an e-mail confirmation of my booking, so I looked at that. There was a "print your ticket" link on the e-mail. I clicked it but of course it didn't print but sent me to a page of instructions on how to print my ticket. By now I was losing the will to live, and began clicking on everything in sight. Eventually I got to a page where I had to enter the name and d.o.b of the person travelling. And then miracle of miracles when I clicked on "print your ticket" it worked. Two points: you need Acrobat Reader to print your ticket and you can print it as many times as you like. Handy if you are in the habit of misplacing things.

Patrick

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[quote user="andyh4"][quote user="Ian Horn"]

SNCF probably don't care much - Eurostar ought to (given their business difficulties).

[/quote]

 

Methinks Ian that you are confusing Eurostar with Eurotunnel - 2 separate companies, and only one of which is to all intents and purposes insolvent.

The only connection is that €star pay €tunnel charges to go through the tunnel.

[/quote]

You're absolutely right Andy - believe it or not, I realised my mistake shortly after posting!  However, correct me if I'm wrong, but Eurostar's loadings aren't all they might be (certainly not what was forecast originally) and any business is good business.  I only have experience of 2 round trips with Eurostar, both at what I would have expected to be 'peak' periods. Load factor was no better than 50%. Mr O'Leary would have knocked the route on the head pretty damm quick at those levels.  

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