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Amtrak Riverside Call Center to Close - Jan 2019

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My friend who works at the Riverside Amtrak Call Center just got called into the meeting room over lunch --- and was told the ENTIRE Riverside call center will be shut down and everyone will lose their jobs effective January 18. Get ready for super long wait times!  I get that call centers are somewhat of a dying business, but feel bad for my friend because both he and his wife's income come from there. I don't see them moving clear across the country either to take a job in PA.

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Oh, no. That's awful for the folks directly affected!  It's also a drag for us customers. HUACA will really be inconvenient now if you happen to get an agent who doesn't know something or who gets a policy wrong.  Bummer...

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Its great Amtrak is consolidating all its reservation system into one location.   They can save what $10M / year. Now what happens when the first major winter storm shuts down all traffic to / from the system reservation system ?  Then  it will cost Amtrak $10M per storm day in lost revenue !

Edited by west point

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Aren't  Call Center positions occupied by employees of Amtrak and covered by Agreement? As such, they should have seniority to exercise closer to home than  at the remaining Bensalem center.

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29 minutes ago, GBNorman said:

Aren't  Call Center positions occupied by employees of Amtrak and covered by Agreement? As such, they should have seniority to exercise closer to home than  at the remaining Bensalem center.

The Philadelphia Center is in Philadelphia, not Bensalem.

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1 hour ago, west point said:

Its great Amtrak is consolidating all its reservation system into one location.   They can save what $10M / year. Now what happens when the first major winter storm shuts down all traffic to / from the system reservation system ?  Then  it will cost Amtrak $10M per storm day in lost revenue !

No it's not great!! These are union jobs! 

I can actually see people calling out cause of the snow. Technically it's an "essential" job. But good luck telling Mr. Anderson that. 

32 minutes ago, PRR 60 said:

The Philadelphia Center is in Philadelphia, not Bensalem.

Correct Bill! It is right off of The Roosevelt Boulevard. I won't give the street address, but the Zip Code is 19116. Having the zip will hopefully help you out with an idea on where it is. ;) About 3 minutes away is the City/County Line. 

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1 hour ago, GBNorman said:

Aren't  Call Center positions occupied by employees of Amtrak and covered by Agreement? As such, they should have seniority to exercise closer to home than  at the remaining Bensalem center.

They are covered by a Union Agreement. BUT to exercise seniority elsewhere they need to be qualified on something else e.g. ticket agent. Really their only choice is to move to Philly if they so desire. But I don't see people moving across the country for their job.  

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I am curious...is there a reason that these positions can’t be telecommute positions? If Union members are able to transfer to Philadelphia but don’t want to relocate, why can’t they just do this remotely? The technology exists.

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4 hours ago, cpotisch said:

Roughly what percentage of USA-RAIL agents work at this call center?

I believe it's almost 50% of the AGR agents, Regular Agents, and a bunch of behind the scenes agents that no one knows exists. 

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4 minutes ago, tonijustine said:

I am curious...is there a reason that these positions can’t be telecommute positions? If Union members are able to transfer to Philadelphia but don’t want to relocate, why can’t they just do this remotely? The technology exists.

Yes. But I can't go into details. 

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55 minutes ago, Acela150 said:

I believe it's almost 50% of the AGR agents, Regular Agents, and a bunch of behind the scenes agents that no one knows exists. 

Nearly 50% of basically all Amtrak agents work at the call center they're about to close? Yikes. :unsure:

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I'm amazed if they all ready don't have contracts in the works for offshore outsourced call centers now. This is one of the few companies that still uses domestic call centers other than Credit Cards and Banks. Hell even the Post office throws everyone a 1800 number now which is just a recording. Such a shame the way companies think that a one on one conversation is a waste of their time.

Edited by Mr2nr

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49 minutes ago, RebelRider said:

A new, non-union, call center was recently opened in Florida.

I certainly wouldn't be surprised. But do you have some type of proof of such? 

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I certainly wouldn't be surprised. But do you have some type of proof of such? 

It has....and supposedly they screw up everything they touch, don't know policies, etc...

 

It's contracted out.

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It has....and supposedly they screw up everything they touch, don't know policies, etc... 
It's contracted out.
That happens when the contract first starts. My company did the same thing to our service desk (it now runs from a center in Phoenix). After a few months the bugs have been worked out, but it was a pretty rocky transition.

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It has....and supposedly they screw up everything they touch, don't know policies, etc... 
It's contracted out.
Judging by the accent, that might have been the call center I recently spoke with. Told me once I couldn't book a bicycle on the Surfliner if I was transferring to a Thruway at Santa Barbara. Then told me twice, emphatically. Then, for the third time I showed them what emphatic was, and they figured it out :-).

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3 hours ago, Acela150 said:

No it's not great!! These are union jobs! 

I can actually see people calling out cause of the snow. Technically it's an "essential" job. But good luck telling Mr. Anderson that. 

Correct Bill! It is right off of The Roosevelt Boulevard. I won't give the street address, but the Zip Code is 19116. Having the zip will hopefully help you out with an idea on where it is. ;) About 3 minutes away is the City/County Line. 

Seriously?  They put it somewhere not accessible by passenger rail?  :sigh: 

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I'm opposed to farming out the jobs to a non Union call center because that means they are devaluing the craft that remains, and it's being used as a union busting technique. Yes I understand Amtrak is a "business" and has to do things for money.

But Amtrak really is in a rather strange place being both public service and a business. On one hand it provides essential rural service to underserved American towns but it's also expected to make money.

But that isn't related to the actual issue. It seams to me the current administration in Amtrak is a believer in cut to profitability which is why I think they are a horrible lot of people.

First they farm out the call center, next they will farm out LSA's and food service, and eventually they will target the operating department.

Why pay an engineer the high union wages Amtrak currently pays when you can farm it out to some shortline like the Lancaster and Chester who isn't Union to do the job for less. In a sense turning Amtrak into a mainline airline with an agreement with regional airlines.

So you would just buy your ticket from Amtrak but in reality it would be a train operated by (insert non Union company here). And sure some of you think I'm crazy for this thought thinking it can never happen. But I don't see any barriers to why it can't happen in a piecemeal form.

Plenty of shortlines have access to Class One tracks as it stands as part of trackage rights agreements some have more access than others. But if they were operating under Amtrak's umbrella as contractors for Amtrak it's technically doable.

Sure the union would put up a fight but at the same time as many states are "Right to Work" it could be doable to replace Union shops.

So by closing the Riverside Call Center to replace good paying Union jobs with a bunch of scabs from a third party company is a slippery slope. And not one I want to start going down.

Before to long it'll be bye bye OBS, and operations. Let's just be glad Anderson and Gardner haven't seen how the Piedmont runs with vending machines yet. We don't need to become the Southern Pacific.

#saveamtrakfireanderson
#sendthegardnerbacktothegarden
#saveourcraftsfireanderson

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10 hours ago, Triley said:

It has....and supposedly they screw up everything they touch, don't know policies, etc...

 

But I feel like that's always been the norm for Amtrak phone agents...

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I suspect that the NEED (as apposed to a nice to have) for a call center had dropped dramatically with online purchase of tickets, so where 10 years ago 2 centers made sense today only one does.

In a perfect world where union and management could sing in harmony (rather than alternating shooting themselves in the foot) utilizing todays technology to distribute the remaining call center duties to small town station agents might just provide a high level of customer service at reasonable cost. Cut bank(?) or Winona(?) or some of the other stations that have lost agents could reopen, but the agents primary job would be call taking.

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1 hour ago, Karl1459 said:

I suspect that the NEED (as apposed to a nice to have) for a call center had dropped dramatically with online purchase of tickets, so where 10 years ago 2 centers made sense today only one does.

Perhaps, but since I almost always have to wait MANY minutes to get to an agent whenever I call USA-RAIL, I think that they really need more, not less.

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12 hours ago, Seaboard92 said:

It seams to me the current administration in Amtrak is a believer in cut to profitability which is why I think they are a horrible lot of people.

My college's finance guy once said "We can't cut our way to success".

This can also go against the principle of .99999 uptime rule (downtime less than 315.16 seconds out of 31536000).

At least I can still buy my tickets at my local station (My local station is SAC, which is 2nd busiest in California).

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