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Passenger Trains > 1800-USA-RAIL questions


Date: 01/30/06 20:07
1800-USA-RAIL questions
Author: shtinkypuppie

When out chasing trains, a cell phone and Julie can be indespensible in predicting a train's arrival. I've often wondered though, what it costs Amtrak to take calls from people like me. If it costs them nothing (they pay a flat fee?), then I can call them with sameless frequency. If to does cost them money, however, I'd continue to call as conservatively as possible. This begs the following:

1. What does it cost Amtrak to recieve a call from a land line/cell phone, if I only talk to Julie and don't take up any of the reservation agents' time?
2. What about payphones? Does the payphone's proprietor get to charge Amtrak a fee, like they'd charge a fee against a calling card?

Thanks for anyone who actually knows something so esoteric.



Date: 01/30/06 20:28
Re: 1800-USA-RAIL questions
Author: NDHolmes

It's been a while since I messed in phone systems, PBXs, rollover banks, etc., and I certainly never did anything near the size of what 1-800-USARAIL must be, but here's what I remember... It's hard to say without knowing specifics about their contract, but I've never heard of a flat rate toll-free line. I'm not saying they don't exist, I'm just saying I've never heard of a contract being set up that way. Nearly every one where I've had knowledge of the contract was a per-minute bulk rate (usually on the order of a few pennies a minute), plus some monthly base charge. Also figure in the cost of the physical circuits and IVR system (Julie) on the other end, scaled to handle the expected call volume appropriately. Last I checked (though honestly it's probably been a decade since I used a pay phone), calling toll free numbers was still free from pay phones, meaning again Amtrak would pick up the charges (plus I think there might have been an additional fee slapped on from pay phone-originated calls).

That said, I have no problem calling Julie 3-4 times in a day once every couple months when I need to. I figure I've purchased enough tickets over the years that they can indulge me...

Nathan






Date: 01/30/06 20:40
Re: 1800-USA-RAIL questions
Author: lurchdel

Julie writes and sends gifts when I forget to call her.



Date: 01/31/06 05:16
Re: 1800-USA-RAIL questions
Author: DavidP

Owners of "800" numbers pay for usage, so yes, there is a minor incremental cost to your call. One of the selling points of speech recognition technology is a reduction of "800" charges made possible by reduced transaction times when compared to touch-tone IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems, or live agent transactions. The industry often cites studies of this phenomenon to show return on investment for speach IVR systems like Julie.

Dave



Date: 02/04/06 13:30
Re: 1800-USA-RAIL questions
Author: ctillnc

Large customers like Amtrak are paying very little for 800 service. This explains why airlines are willing to let you stay on hold for so much longer than they once did.

The bigger expenses are in the amortization and maintenance of the PBX running the call center and the voice application behind it.



Date: 02/04/06 22:40
Re: 1800-USA-RAIL questions
Author: casco17

NDHolmes Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Last I checked (though honestly
> it's probably been a decade since I used a pay
> phone), calling toll free numbers was still free
> from pay phones, meaning again Amtrak would pick
> up the charges (plus I think there might have been
> an additional fee slapped on from pay
> phone-originated calls).
>
Yes, Julie and other domestic toll-free numbers can be called "free" from pay phones. I have booked occasional trips and called for train status from pay phones at unstaffed stations....Glendale, CA....Manassas, VA...Martinsburg, WV...Benson, AZ.



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