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&**&^*&^*^ (AGR Surge Pricing)


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#1 Anderson

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Posted 11 April 2017 - 10:58 PM

Had to book a ticket on Friday for a friend.  Got slammed with surge pricing in spite of being SE.  Am pissed.


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#2 CCC1007

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Posted 11 April 2017 - 11:01 PM

What? Was it at high bucket with almost every seat and berth full? That would make sense to me!

#3 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 11 April 2017 - 11:11 PM

So long as the trains are going out full (or nearly so) who can genuinely fault Amtrak for trying to collect/recover as much as possible?  Yeah it sucks for those of us without vieux riche trusts or crony slush funds, but it's not like Amtrak has much of a choice in the matter.  Any money they leave on the table only serves to weaken their stability and further threaten their continued existence.

Edited by Devil's Advocate, 13 April 2017 - 12:04 AM.

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#4 Anderson

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Posted 11 April 2017 - 11:13 PM

I expected it to be at high bucket (and thus high bucket times 34.5).  I did not expect it to be at twice that (which in this case is a difference of about 17k points), and that expectation was based on the now-head-of-SkyPesos mangled his explanations of AGR 2.0.
 

Edit: Ok, this is coming on the heels of a few rough days and the friend-of-a-friend in question was basically whining about being in coach (he's never done a long-distance train travel).  I'm mad about the AGR situation (again, this "improvement" was sold as tying ticket prices and redemption prices to one another) but it's coming on a lot of other stuff that is stressing me the frak out.


Edited by Anderson, 11 April 2017 - 11:20 PM.

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#5 AmtrakBlue

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 04:59 AM

Uh, it's a holiday weekend. And the start or end of spring breaks. I'm not surprised.

2011: Jun: WIL=>WAS=>WIL (NER) // Nov: WIL=>WAS=>CHI=>PRO (NER=>CL=>CZ)
2012: Apr: WIL=>WAS=>WIL (NER) // May(NTD): WIL=>PHL=>WIL (NER) / PHL=>PAO=>PHL (Keystone) // Aug: WIL=>WAS (NER) / BWI=>WIL (NER) // Oct(Gathering): PHL=>WIL (NER) / PHL=>HAR=>PHL (Keystone) / SEPTA, NJT, PATCO, River Line, Princeton Dinky
2013: May(NTD): WIL=>WAS=>WIL (NER)  // Oct (Gathering): WIL=>CHI (Card) / CHI=>MKE=>GLN=>CHI() / CHI=>JOL=>CHI () / CHI=>WIL(CL=>NER) / CTA, Metra. SEPTA (WIL=>NRK) // Nov:  PHL=>PHL (Autumn Express) 
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2014: Oct(Gathering): WIL=>NYP=>TOL(pd-NER=>LSL) / TOL=>CHI=>LAX=>EMY(pts-LSL=>SWC=>CS) / EMY=>CHI=>TOL (pts-CZ-CL) / TOL=>WAS=>WIL(pd-CL=>NER)
2015: May: CHI=>CIN(pd-Card) / CIN=>WIL(pts Card)
2015;  Oct(Gathering):  WIL=>WAS(Acela) / ALX=>WAS(NER) / WAS=>BAL(Acela) / WAS=>WIL(NER)

2016: Mar: WIL=>WAS=>WIL (NER)  // Oct:  WIL=>NYP=>NYP=>WIL (Autumn Express) 


#6 Carolina Special

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 01:00 PM

The recent OIG report called out Amtrak for discounting prices too close to the departure date when travelers are more willing to pay a premium price. Perhaps Amtrak is responding, at least in this instance. Not great for travelers, but better revenue management seems sorely needed.

Edited by Carolina Special, 12 April 2017 - 01:00 PM.


#7 willem

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 07:36 PM

If I understand correctly, the OP is not complaining about the price of the ticket, but rather about the exchange rate between points and dollars. Part of the AGR 2 announcement was that 34.5 points should equal a dollar, and that declaration has been untrue on a regular and recurring basis.

 

Note that the 34.5 points per dollar is the approximate reciprocal of the exact predicted exchange rate, and that rate applies off the NEC (and maybe on the NEC but off Acela). These details do not invalidate what I understand to be Anderson's complaint.

 



#8 Anderson

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Posted 14 April 2017 - 05:18 AM

If I understand correctly, the OP is not complaining about the price of the ticket, but rather about the exchange rate between points and dollars. Part of the AGR 2 announcement was that 34.5 points should equal a dollar, and that declaration has been untrue on a regular and recurring basis.

 

Note that the 34.5 points per dollar is the approximate reciprocal of the exact predicted exchange rate, and that rate applies off the NEC (and maybe on the NEC but off Acela). These details do not invalidate what I understand to be Anderson's complaint.

 

That is correct.  When AGR 2.0 was announced, there was a fun little calculator on the /rideon page (until it got "ridden off" at the last minute) which roughly indicated this.  34.5 points/dollar was the indicated exchange rate, except in the case of the Acela (where IIRC it was more like 40:1).  AGR 2.0 was initially pitched as tying point redemption prices directly to cash ticket prices.

Well, lo and behold, the day AGR 2.0 got announced folks went to do some "shopping bookings" and found that there were a lot of trains, some linked to peak travel days and some not, where the price in points was far more than expected given the ticket price.  Those who were active on here then can probably remember that I had a rather...dramatic reaction to the fact that this was not announced in advance (particularly given that the "surprise" came after AGR lost Chase UR as a transfer partner...bluntly, I would have dumped much of my AGR balance to Chase had I known they were going to do that; it would've made a booking on Singapore go far more smoothly had I done so).

However, at the time Select Executive members were pretty much immune to this "surge pricing".  I've been SE for every year but the first year it existed, btw...and I only failed to make it then because SE was announced too late in the year for me to run it (IIRC they announced it in mid-November and I simply couldn't force the requisite travel in the space of 5-6 weeks).

I'll say that it's quite possible that non-SE members would have been unable to book the roomette...it looks like I bagged either the last one or the next-to-last one on the train.  With that said, back in the "old days" this would have run afoul of a blackout date...but then again, had I been unable to book with points I probably would've just paid cash, put him on the train the day before, and slapped myself in slot #1 on the reservation and ridden to Cumberland or Pittsburgh and back.  I've spent days in far worse ways than that.

I'm not as peeved as I might be because I'm pretty thin on using points these days...I don't quite do enough Amtrak travel right at present to use points a lot without jeopardizing status (the non-point-earning perks of SE make it worth chasing all the same) and the fact that cancellations come with penalties now means that my use is often restricted to situations where I'm traveling at the last minute.  The fact that most of my travel is now deductible in some fashion or another also constrains my use just a little.


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#9 dlagrua

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 08:07 PM

It all comes down to whether or not you believe the AGR 2.0 points system is the best credit card deal or not. On std credit cards you can get a flat 1% across the board rebate and maybe 2% on special categories. At $10,000/yr in charges that only nets you a $100 -$200 return. With the BofA Amtrak card your Amtrak purchases give double points, the premium card gives you points on lodging as well but it does cost $75/yr. . Then you can add points for shopping to it all and get some Amtrak travel  While the good ole three zone days are gone, if you charge a lot on your card. the AGR card still seems better for train travelers. If there is anything that I am not happy about it is the surge pricing but this tactic has been used by our friends the benevolent airlines for years.



#10 Ryan

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 10:03 PM

Let me get this straight.

Under the old program, you wouldn't have been able to book this room.

Under the new program you are. And that's a bad thing? Based off of an incorrect assumption on the fact that the $$<->points conversion would be at a constant rate, based on pre-rollout incomplete information?

There's absolutely a problem here, but it isn't with AGR 2.0.
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#11 Anderson

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 11:21 PM

Let me get this straight.

Under the old program, you wouldn't have been able to book this room.

Under the new program you are. And that's a bad thing? Based off of an incorrect assumption on the fact that the $$<->points conversion would be at a constant rate, based on pre-rollout incomplete information?

There's absolutely a problem here, but it isn't with AGR 2.0.

With due respect, I think the AGR folks went to some pains to mislead us.  Maybe it was Marketing's fault, maybe it wasn't (I'm really not prepared to give anyone slack on this...it was a general cluster-you-know-what overall).  But the material at promotion time went to great pains to play up that direct price/points connection, to post a direct-value calculator, etc.  I'll note that as far as I can tell, at lower tiers the availaibility isn't there (something that is another "correction" which was announced after the program was changed).  The real problem I have is getting slapped with "Oh, there are no blackout dates, this won't be a pro...oh, wait, thanks for the surprise guys."  There is a time when "no" is a better answer than a horribly quailified and uncertain "maybe".

 

So yeah, there very much is a problem on the AGR end.  In many respects I'd rather know that the answer was "no" in advance than "maybe, and we can't tell you the price".  I would rather have straightforward blackout dates which I can check in advance and plan around than Scrodinger's Blackout Dates (please don't tell me you forgot the fit a bunch of us had with test bookings back when the new program rolled out) and Schrodinger's Penalty Fares.


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Possibly Upcoming: Either Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (2) or Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (1)




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