This past New Year 2014/2015 I went skiing in Chamonix France with my good friend of 20 years. I booked ChamExpress, a transfers company, to taxi us from Geneva Airport to Chamonix and had an absolutely awful experience. I post this article in the hope that others will read it be forewarned.
Readers of this story are very welcome to contact me on Twitter at @craiggibbons
A true and accurate account of this experience follows:
My friend Laura and I took the ChamExpress taxi from Geneva airport to Chamonix at 12:30pm on December 30th, 2014. The taxi contained between 8 and 10 passengers. About an hour into the journey, the taxi stopped at the drop off point for the first passenger. I politely asked the driver if I could have 5 minutes for a comfort break. There was a McDonalds restaurant right across the street from the drop off point which had toilet facilities. The driver, replied that the service was on a tight schedule and it would therefore not be possible. I then inquired how much longer it would take to reach our hotel, the Hotel Alpina in central Chamonix, to which the driver replied about half an hour. I made it clear I would not be possible to wait that long, when you have to go you have to go, and again I requested a 5 minute break. The driver again refused and so, left with no other option, I went to use the facilities at the McDonalds. The driver then simply left me there, at the first drop off location, with no money, no coat and without my bag, in an unknown location in France, in winter. I don't speak French.
My travelling companion pleaded with the driver to stop but he repeatedly refused. She then begged to be let out of the vehicle as she didn't want to abandon me in the middle of nowhwere. She said clearly that he was taking her against her will and demanded he stop the vehicle. The driver refused. Upon reaching the Hotel Alpina, she attempted to take a picture of the driver with her iPhone for purposes of identification in a written complaint we were going to make to ChamExpress. The driver snatched her phone out of her hand and threw it into the vehicle with force. When she then attempted to retrieve the phone, the driver pushed her out of the way causing a bruise to her leg, took the phone and threw it into the snow. The driver then closed the taxi doors and drove off. The snow was deep and after hours of searching she still failed to locate the phone. A complaint was filed with the Gendarmerie in Chamonix the same day.
I managed to get a taxi to the Hotel Alpina and arrived about an hour later to find my companion extremely distressed and in tears over the incident.
I am utterly appalled at the behaviour of the driver. He denied me a basic human right by not allowing me to relieve myself and as a representative of ChamExpress he failed in maintaining the duty of care which ChamExpress as a taxi service have to their passengers. His behaviour towards my friend was aggressive and highly inappropriate. When I called ChamExpress to complain, their initial response was a simple "What do you want us to do about it?". When I insisted on speaking to a manager, I got the Operations Manager on the line who insisted I put my complaint in writing which I have duly done in terms with the complaints procedure as documented on the chamexpress.com website. She also shot down my complaint by saying "Our behaviour was appaling"! Our behaviour, not that of their driver.
I have to date not received any reply from ChamExpress or CEO Andrew Martin (@Chamexpress).