By Matei Clej: A commuter was kicked off a Eurostar train and banned by the operator after a row with staff over the price of tea.
Daniel Confino, 56, who is Jewish, now plans do all he can to overturn the ban, which he describes as ‘draconian’.
The financial analyst from Brockley told Jewish News: “I was coming back from Paris and I had a selection of biscuits and a strudel from Boulangerie Murciano in Marais and I needed a tea to go with it.”
“At the buffet bar I ordered two large teas at £2.20 each. Given the size of the cups, one tea bag was insufficient so I politely asked for a second one.”
Confino says he was ignored, so he asked again, only for the female staff member serving to tell him, “I can’t agree to that.”
“She summoned her supervisor, who decided if I wanted the tea bag I’d have to pay the full price of another tea. It’s absurd. Because they’re a monopoly there’s no incentive to be customer friendly.”
Confino asked for the Chef de Train, who also made it clear he would have to pay an extra £2.20. “I tried to reason with her but at this point it wasn’t anything to do with reason, it was all about humiliating me,” he says.
He says he was then threatened with police for ‘stealing a teabag’, before he abandoned the teas and returned to his seat.
An hour later, the train made an unscheduled stop at Ebbsfleet, where Confino says he was unceremoniously bundled off by two British Transport Police (BTP) officers. “I had to resist because they didn’t even give me time to collect my luggage,” he says.
Three months later in December, Confino bought a Eurostar ticket to travel to Calais, only to find out two days later by e-mail that the ticket had been cancelled and he was now banned from travelling with Eurostar.
Marc Noaro, services and people director at Eurostar, confirmed the decision in a further e-mail to Confino and told him the it would be reviewed if he apologised in writing.
Confino, who believes Eurostar to be in breach of treaties governing international train travel, thinks Eurostar are trying to shut him up.
“Eurostar are effectively using the BTP to enforce civil terms and conditions. They are using the ban to put pressure on me to discontinue my complaint,” he said.
Eurostar issued a statement saying that Mr Confino’s language and behaviour on the journey gave staff serious cause for concern and left them ‘feeling threatened’.