There's a hole in my bucket, dear Amtrak, dear Amtrak...

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by MARC Rider, Nov 14, 2018.

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  1. Nov 14, 2018 #1

    MARC Rider

    M

    MARC Rider

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    I'm working late this evening, and thought I might want to ride home on a Northeast Regional, as MARC service get's a bit spotty after 6:30 PM.  I had a little time in Baltimore waiting for my train, so I thought I'd buy my return ticket using the Amtrak app, like I usually do.  Searching for the trip, I found the low bucket fare of $19 and business class for $35, "only 1 seat left."

    Unfortunately, my AGR BOA credit card is out of commission until the new one comes, as the bank detected possible "fraudulent" activity, and yanked my card pending investigation.  No problem, I thought, I'll just use my other credit card.  (This is a good reason to always have 2 credit cards.)  It turns out that for all credit cards except the AGR BOA credit card, Amtrak has a bank verification process that involves secret codes being sent to your email.  My phone isn't set up for email, so I was out of luck.  I then decided to try again and see if my AGR BOA credit card really was cancelled (it was), and lo and behold in the intervening 5 minutes someone had purchased the last $35 BC seat, and they were quoting a price of $41.  I then tried to use the Quick trak machine, but the one in Baltimore only sells tickets from Baltimore to other places in the northeast, it doesn't sell one-way tickets from other stations to Baltimore.

    Oh well, I board my train, ride down to DC, head for the Club Acela and have my coffee and New York Times, and on my way out, about two hours after my failed attempt at purchasing a ticket, I decided to try the Quick-trak machine in Washington.  Well, Well, they had a business class ticket for the same train at $35!  Then I realized that I qualify for senior fare, so I got $1.90 discount off the coach part of the fare, and my total fare as $33.10.  By the way, the Qick-Trak machine had no problem with my other credit card and did not require any sort of secret codes for verification.

    Anybody ever had an experience with the bucket fares rising and then falling again so quickly?

    And is credit card fraud such a problem that Amtrak needs to make it hard for people to spend their money on Amtrak tickets?  Maybe it's time for "chip and pin" to come to American credit cards.  
     
  2. Nov 14, 2018 #2

    flitcraft

    f

    flitcraft

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    It isn't Amtrak, it's the banks that yank credit cards when thrre is a potential breach. My understanding is that it is easier to bulk cancel cards if you have ever done business with a possibly compromised merchant than for the banks to investigate the size and scope of a potential compromise and do a narrower and more targeted cancellation. Since the banks are on the hook for fraudulent transactions, they prefer not to take chances. Your inconvenience doesn't count in that calculus.
     
  3. Nov 14, 2018 #3

    PVD

    P

    PVD

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    Most (not all) credit card issuers also allow you to get a code via text or actual call to a pre selected number....
     
  4. Nov 14, 2018 #4

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

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    I've seen fares on specific corridor trains fluctuate quickly and frequently in very short time spans. I thought I was going to be screwed when getting ready to buy my Amtrak tickets for the Gathering–when at around five days out the price was something like $35 for the NER to Stamford and $50 for the Ethan Allen from Poughkeepsie. Then the next morning the price jumped to $40 on the NER and $65 on the Ethan Allen, I was REALLY screwed. Then later that day the price dropped to $28 and $35 respectively, and I snatched it. So yeah, prices on short distance trains can really be all over the place.
     
  5. Nov 14, 2018 #5

    oregon pioneer

    oregon pioneer

    oregon pioneer

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    I have had personal experience with seats on regionals (in my case, two BC seats on the Lincoln Service) opening up at the last minute. I think people book the train they want to make, and change it when they realize they are running late. There's no penalty for switching your ticket to a later train, as long as you do it before the train you were book on is scheduled to leave your boarding station.
     
  6. Nov 14, 2018 #6

    Cho Cho Charlie

    Cho Cho Charlie

    Cho Cho Charlie

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    I usually request they please overnight me the replacement credit card.  Never had any bank refuse.
     
  7. Nov 15, 2018 #7

    scrollmaster

    scrollmaster

    scrollmaster

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    The only penalty I've ever occurred in switching to a later date was the bedroom on the later date was less expensive than the bedroom I had booked and they charge me a 10% penalty on the difference I saved to refund the points back to my account.
     
  8. Nov 15, 2018 #8

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

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    That penalty only applies if you used points, though. If you purchased it with cash and modify your reservation to a cheaper fare, you get the full difference back as an e-voucher.
     
  9. Nov 15, 2018 #9

    Mr2nr

    Mr2nr

    Mr2nr

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    Why can't you just get on the train and buy the seat from the conductor? Is this obsolete now? I haven't rode in a long time but figure that the train should have a way to process tickets. Forcing all transactions online is ridiculous with how these banks operate. Ya rates might be higher paying a person but we aren't there yet to pay by app with all the  stupidity from the banks.
     
  10. Nov 15, 2018 #10

    NW cannonball

    NW cannonball

    NW cannonball

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    More or less. BUT  -- which options - what email, which pre-selected number? if your smartphone fails and you have a backup email and smartphone -- whoa !! 

    Cleaning up after a cellphone failure I found I had usable backup emails or phone to confirm most accounts, , but a few accounts (whose names I won't mention, starting with D and F )

    wouldn't change my cell number without a confirmation code to my  OLD broken  cell number, or a long drawn out service center dialog, or in one case a snail-mail confirm -- OK after all after waiting to get the phone fixed to where I read codes off of it -- a few days :)

    Be aware. it ain't always easy.
     
  11. Nov 15, 2018 #11

    Triley

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    Triley

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    You can, but at the highest fare allowable on that segment, plus a $10 charge boarding at a station that has an open ticket office at the time of boarding.

    Hand cut tickets are pretty much as thing of the past, and they try to keep it to a minimum as there it creates more work for a few people (including positions that have been cut back on), and then there's the cash changing hands several times with risk for error. (Most?) conductors don't carry money any more, so they now would also need to rely on the cafe attendant to make change for them as well.
     
  12. Nov 15, 2018 #12

    scrollmaster

    scrollmaster

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    That is indeed correct. I have an upcoming NYP trip I modified with AGR earlier this week and was given a choice. I could refund the full $51 difference to a voucher which I did or a reduced amount back to my AGR card.
     
  13. Nov 15, 2018 #13

    bmjhagen9426

    bmjhagen9426

    bmjhagen9426

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    When I had issues with my Debit Card (I have Chase/JPM), I only had to call in to the fraud department to confirm that I made the suspicious transaction. My cards were yanked on the following occasions, and a grace period was given prior to it being yanked:

    1. Mastercard to Visa switch (2014)

    2. Magstripe only to Magstrip+EMV Chip (2016)

    As for bank verification, not familiar with that, and not aware of secret codes to email.
     
  14. Nov 15, 2018 #14

    Cho Cho Charlie

    Cho Cho Charlie

    Cho Cho Charlie

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    This is something new to me too, and I just started to have to go thru it.   Though, not with secret codes.

    I used my credit card, and within seconds, I got an email from the bank (good thing to a email account I monitor on my cell phone).    The email was basically, "did you authorize this charge?".   It had two click boxes, "yes" and "no".      I clicked on "yes", and the transaction was allowed thru.    I assume if I didn't respond quickly, or responded "no", the pending charge would have been declined.
     
  15. Nov 15, 2018 #15

    JRR

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    JRR

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    I have had this frequently on telephone or online orders.

    I did catch a unauthorized charge this way once. A broker attempted to put a svc charge through which was unauthorized and I was able to stop it.
     
  16. Nov 15, 2018 #16

    bratkinson

    bratkinson

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    I get that when I log on to each of the two banks that have my credit card accounts as well as my bank.  The reason is that I run a very 'tight ship' on my computer and specifically remove various cookies and tracking information that is intentionally made hard to find and hidden by Microsoft and Mozilla.  That's where the 'you previously signed on successfully to this site' information is kept, thus avoiding the necessity to 'prove' you ARE the person that is logging on.  Some sites offer a 'remember me' option that many default to 'yes'.  I specifically choose 'no'.

    That said, I recently found out from a friend that 'checked me out' online that there's a TON of information publicly available these days, even my ex wife of 25 years ago and that house address and those in between, too.  It's frightening.  So much for personal information security.  I at least try to slow them down a bit.

    On commuter trains, this is far more common that I had thought.  In my trying to joyride all the east coast commuter/subway/light rail lines on the east coast in my retirement, I've seen it happen on every line.  Although on the 'honor system' light rail lines in NJ, they'll check tix onboard or on the platform at the last stop.  You can't buy a ticket there...you GET one to the tune of $25 or whatever it is!

    As for onboard sales on Amtrak, as most trains are reserved, you may run into a sold out situation and they hustle you off at the next stop.  However, I recently witnessed a passenger on a NEC regional train buy a ticket using his cell phone and then displaying the bar code to the conductor when he came back to verify the passenger really did buy a ticket.  I've also witnessed a conductor deal with a beligerant non-ticketed passenger and ultimately had the police waiting for him at the next stop.
     
  17. Nov 15, 2018 #17

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

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    IMHO, it's really not an honor system thing. They keep light rail passengers from dodging fares by making it clear that they will occasionally (and unpredictably) have employees checking peoples' tickets onboard, and that if you are caught without one, the penalty is significant enough that it's not worth the risk.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2018
  18. Nov 15, 2018 #18

    Thirdrail7

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    Thirdrail7

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    It largely depends on the line. If it is a smaller, state supported operation, they still sell tickets at on board for the reserved price.  They've really worked hard to keep people from buying tickets on the train. It actually started with the credit card companies and the lack of security of taking one without a reader on board the train.
     
  19. Nov 18, 2018 #19

    slasher-fun

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    slasher-fun

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    I would say "because of you" (not in a bad way of course): you said the $35 ticket was the last one available. When you started the booking process, that last ticket at that price is locked for some time (not sure how long with Amtrak, could be 30 minutes or 1 hour) so that you have enough time to go through the payment process without having someone "stealing" your ticket in the meantime.

    When you tried again later, that $35 ticket had been released, and you were available to buy it again.

    You're talking about the text message sent when trying to buy online? Yes it's a hassle for a lot of online sellers (I know a travel agency in Europe that initially didn't want to put it in place to make it easier for customers, and quickly had a significant amount of fraudulent transactions, for which they have to refund the amount they got, without any compensation: money lost for them), and no "chip and pin" won't change anything to that, chip and pin are only used for physical transactions, you're *never* gonna get asked for your pin while shopping online.
     
  20. Nov 18, 2018 #20

    MARC Rider

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    MARC Rider

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    Well. just got an email from BOA saying my new credit card is on the way...
     
  21. Nov 19, 2018 #21

    caravanman

    caravanman

    caravanman

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    When I make an "unusual" purchase online, such as on my recent visit to India, I get a text message from my bank with a verification code that I need to enter online to confirm the transaction. Simples !

    Ed.
     

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