New Roomette Fare Policy?

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I've been taking long distance Amtrak trains for over 8 years - at least one trip a year in roommate from Chicago to LAX, EMY or SEA. Today I was on Amtrak.com to book a trip from CHI to LAX. I saw roommates available for $650 on this particular day and called the customer service to see the available room numbers and in which car they are in.

I told the rep I will book the roomette #5 in car 3031. I was surprised when the rep quoted me $850 for the trip even though the web says $650. I pointed out the fare discrepancy to which I was informed that Amtrak now sets the roomette fare based on the location. And in this case Room #12 is $650. I have never seen this roomette fare structure before. It has always been one price regardless of the location. Did Amtrak really change how they price roomettes now? If that's the case, I'm done riding Amtrak.
 
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NW cannonball

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I totally doubt that Amtrak has implemented per-seat or per-roomette price discrimination. Could be desired by current management, but not likely to work with Amtrak ancient IT system.

Strongly suggest recheck on-line price, then call again. Get another rep. Ask "supervisor"

Consider strong US economy. More rookies and and "unemployables" being hired than since 2007. At low wages, but Good. But some lived by being BS'ers for years. It'll take a few years for an atypical few of those unfortunates to learn that BS'ing (for low-pay people, obviously not so for wealthy people) is not a long-medium-or-short way to keep a job. In the current economy. Which may soon crash.
 

AmtrakBlue

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Call again. If they give you a higher price ask for a supervisor. A different room can be booked at the current price, they just need to know how to do it.
 

AmtrakBlue

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Clueless employees were telling callers of this long before any of them were contracted out.
Yep. In 2013 I decided (before my trip) to continue my zone trip in my roomette rather than do the Toledo shuffle to coach in the middle of the night When I called to see if I could keep my roomette I was quoted a higher price than shown on the website. Thanks to AU, I asked the agent to consult with a supervisor and the supervisor showed her how to get the room for me at the lower price. The agent told me she was happy to learn that she could do that.
 

pennyk

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Clueless employees were telling callers of this long before any of them were contracted out.
I agree. Even AGR phone agents (who are allegedly better trained) have told me the same thing. Since I am particular about my rooms, I always call to make reservations. Since I have AGR status, I call a "special" phone number. However, about half the time, I get a clueless agent and have to phone back.
 

jis

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The root problem though is Amtrak’s weak IT system. Changing a seat or room in the same class that is allowed without fare change according to the fare rules, should not need IRROPS handling by an expert.
 

spinnaker

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If the room is just a preference and not a requirement for your trip, book the room online then call to change it. I have done this on almost every trip and it worked without a hitch. There was or twice when a room was not available but no hassles with price change.
 

spinnaker

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(the preceding shouldn't be taken as an endorsement of that outsourcing, btw - I still think it's crap)

It was been by experience just about everywhere (including where I work) that outsourcing sucks. Nothing beats an employee with experience. Not to say you won't get crappy service from a direct employee of the company but it is far more likely to happen in out sourcing.
 

jis

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Every major project and organization has significant elements of functions outsourced today. Some are done so well that no one even knows that they are being served by an outsourced service provider, and of course there are others that are done poorly, and typically the ones that we bellyache about here. And of course there are plenty of examples of inhouse provided services where the service really sucks too.
 

Rasputin

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On two recent occasions I have booked through an agent. I was told that one particular roomette was available at the lowest bucket price. When I asked to agent to check on the availability of certain other roomettes I was told, after he checked, that they were available but only at a higher priced. Since it didn't make that much difference to me I went with the lowest price roomette instead of our first preference.
 

Qapla

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Since I have never been able to book a roomette (just don't have the money) I would take any room they gave me, if the price was right.
 

Seaboard92

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I’ve never had trouble changing to a preferred room. Generally on superliner trains I like being in the transdorm so I always request it. And never have had an issue.

And on VIA I prefer having berth 3U or 3L on the Manor and Chateau sleepers because it’s directly across from the shower. So I find it a bit more private.
 

bratkinson

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I agree. Even AGR phone agents (who are allegedly better trained) have told me the same thing. Since I am particular about my rooms, I always call to make reservations. Since I have AGR status, I call a "special" phone number. However, about half the time, I get a clueless agent and have to phone back.
Unfortunately, the 'special' phone number only brings one higher up in to the 'waiting for answer' list. ie, if there's 20 people waiting for a human and a 'special' number is called, they may drop in at position #2 or #10, depending on how many other callers have those numbers. In Telco terms, it brings you higher up in the 'rotary' waiting list. In the pre-digital days, a physical rotary 'steping switch' was used to sequentially serve the next caller. If one got put 'higher up', the rotary would start at the top (position #1) and take the next caller from that point.

As for getting incompetent agents on the phone, I have a 50% success rate at getting someone that knows how to do their job. Unfortunately, these days, newbies get taught how to add a reservation and delete them. Not much more. As mentioned above, the secret is call back later and hopefully get someone who knows how to look at what roomettes are available by line number and to modify the reservation to a different room number. I suspect they first have to book the roomette, take whatever they get, then modify that as the one you got was 'last one at this price' before the price jumped.
 

basketmaker

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I’ve never had trouble changing to a preferred room. Generally on superliner trains I like being in the transdorm so I always request it. And never have had an issue.

And on VIA I prefer having berth 3U or 3L on the Manor and Chateau sleepers because it’s directly across from the shower. So I find it a bit more private.
Agree with you on the TransDorm! A lot less foot traffic stumbling and falling into your room!
 

PVD

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Modern call routing systems can have extremely complex queing setups based on many factors including the mapping of skill set by specific agent against originating numbers. Doesn't matter if the agents aren't up to the task.
 

Qapla

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I have a habit of asking people I deal with on the phone where they are located ... many, not all, will tell you.

The last time I had to call Amtrak to fix a problem with a booking, the agent told me she could not help me. That what I was asking could not be done. I hung up, somewhat discouraged.

I decided to call back and try again. This time, I got a guy who also told me that what I needed he could not do ... but, he said if I talked to Customer Relations, they may be able to help me - and he connected me. The helpful person at Customer Relations said, "No Problem!" - and did what I was asking.

Now, back to my first line of this post ... I asked each of these people where they were ... they were all in Philadelphia - Not Florida!

Somehow, I just can't see why, just because a person is located in Florida, it should be assumed they can't do their job.
 

pennyk

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Somehow, I just can't see why, just because a person is located in Florida, it should be assumed they can't do their job.
No one is disparaging Floridians. I am a life long Floridian and I take no offense of those who claim the agents in the Florida call center may be incompetent. The Florida call center is fairly new and the agents are contract workers and not Amtrak employees. The call center in Riverside, CA was closed about a year or so ago and some of the agents moved to the Philadelphia call center. The Florida call center was opened around the same time. Those agents do not have the training as the other agents have. @Acela150 I am sure will attest to the fact that the Philadelphia phone agents were trained more extensively than the Florida contract agents.

Since I phone an AGR number, I was told I will never reach a Florida agent. I do not have to ask where the agent is located. I know it is Philadelphia (and sometimes I can tell by the accent. ;) )
 

Sauve850

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I agree. Even AGR phone agents (who are allegedly better trained) have told me the same thing. Since I am particular about my rooms, I always call to make reservations. Since I have AGR status, I call a "special" phone number. However, about half the time, I get a clueless agent and have to phone back.
Agree. I travel every summer back from west coast to Florida. Mostly on AGR points. Usually one leg I pay for with my credit card. When a lower fare pops up I call to modify and ask for the same sleeper room number or letter. Half the time its higher or no lower fare if i want "that" room. I am persistent so I eventually get the room I want at the lower price.
 

ScouseAndy

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If all rooms are the same why does it matter which room you are in?

If some rooms are quieter, better positioned or offer a better view then other rooms why shouldnt Amtrak charge a premium for these rooms if there is clearly higher demand for them?

Basic economics supply & demand
 

SarahZ

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If some rooms are quieter, better positioned or offer a better view then other rooms why shouldnt Amtrak charge a premium for these better rooms?
Because this is wildly subjective. :)

Example 1: Some people on this forum love Roomette #2 (on the Superliners) because it's across from the attendant and restroom and next to the coffee pot. I try to stay away from that room because of the constant noise and foot traffic.

Example 2: Some people prefer to book the car closest to the dining car so they don't have to walk as far. I try to book as far from the dining car as possible to minimize traffic passing my room.

Example 3: Some people like the lower level rooms (again, Superliner) because they are close to the shower and restrooms and, due to the smaller number of rooms, can sometimes be quieter. I avoid the lower level because of its proximity to the Family Room and the noise that comes from people boarding and detraining throughout the night.
 

ScouseAndy

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Because this is wildly subjective. :)

Example 1: Some people on this forum love Roomette #2 (on the Superliners) because it's across from the attendant and restroom and next to the coffee pot. I try to stay away from that room because of the constant noise and foot traffic.

Example 2: Some people prefer to book the car closest to the dining car so they don't have to walk as far. I try to book as far from the dining car as possible to minimize traffic passing my room.

Example 3: Some people like the lower level rooms (again, Superliner) because they are close to the shower and restrooms and, due to the smaller number of rooms, can sometimes be quieter. I avoid the lower level because of its proximity to the Family Room and the noise that comes from people boarding and detraining throughout the night.
But statistically even on a widly subjective topic with enough data it can easily be determined which rooms are more popular and these can be charged accordingly. Even a basic voice analytics program used in any call centre would be able to produce the data easily and quickly after a 12-18 months period.
 
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