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Date: 07/21/06 23:30
Amtrak taking bids to outsource Call Center services
Author: GenePoon

> Amtrak to Make Call-Handling Changes


> Amtrak has taken action today that is consistent with our efforts to
> reduce costs and be a competitive business that will result in
> changes in the way we operate our call centers, but will not
> eliminate any full-time agents and provide all part-time agents with
> the ability to convert to full-time status.
>
> By shifting more reservation and ticketing transactions to
> interactive channels such as Amtrak.com, Quik-Trak machines and voice
> response technology over the past five years, Amtrak has successfully
> reduced reservation and ticket distribution costs. Today, nearly half
> of ticketed reservations are completed in these channels.
>
> Having achieved these savings, Amtrak now faces a situation in which
> 89 percent of call center cost is labor, a cost that is among the
> highest in the industry. To remain competitive in the travel market,
> Amtrak must continue to reduce its costs by contracting outside the
> railroad for a portion of these services.
>
> Consequently, Amtrak today issued an RFP (Request for Proposals),
> seeking bids from vendors to supplement agent attrition at its call
> centers in Riverside and Philadelphia. Amtrak is asking vendors to
> submit proposals for call-handling services for a portion of the
> public gate function, and not special services such as
> Spanish-language, international sales and emergency calls. The RFP
> process will take about six months to complete, with a vendor
> beginning to handle some calls in early 2007.
>
> This RFP will also not impact continuing operation of the call
> centers in Riverside or Philadelphia. As stated previously there will
> be no layoffs of current full-time agents and all part-time agents
> will be offered full-time positions to begin in early 2007,
> consistent with the TCU labor agreement covering call center agents.
>
>
> “It is important that agents know that their commitment to Amtrak for
> providing our customers with quality services remains highly valued.
> But it is imperative that we improve our financial performance, which
> this initiative will do,” said Marketing and Sales Vice President
> Barbara Richardson.


-source: AMTRAK



Date: 07/21/06 23:35
Re: Amtrak taking bids to outsource Call Center service
Author: hesdjjim

Are they getting rid of my girlfriend, Julie?



Date: 07/22/06 06:26
Re: Amtrak taking bids to outsource Call Center service
Author: mobujr

Just another attempt to Bust the Unions its amazing Barbara Richardson has survived... Shes from the Warrington era...



Date: 07/22/06 07:09
Re: Amtrak taking bids to outsource Call Center service
Author: ctillnc

It's just another example of jobs moving overseas. Hundreds of thousands of software jobs have already gone to India and China, but that wasn't union busting because none of the affected workers were unionized.



Date: 07/22/06 07:47
Re: Amtrak taking bids to outsource Call Center service
Author: kk5ol

Haaa haa,

This would be laughable except I just experienced a perfect example with ordering ink cartridges for my Dell printer. The Dell 'customer service rep' with too perfect English and zero intuition 'swore' my cartridges would arrive 'on-time' as indicated on their website while DHL indicated they hadn't yet left Ohio for Texas(confirmed by a separate phone call).

I of course urgently needed the ink cartridges to print railfan related material.

RailNet802, over



Date: 07/22/06 08:21
Re: Amtrak taking bids to outsource Call Center service
Author: PWB

kk5ol Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Haaa haa,
>
> This would be laughable except I just experienced
> a perfect example with ordering ink cartridges for
> my Dell printer. The Dell 'customer service rep'
> with too perfect English and zero intuition
> 'swore' my cartridges would arrive 'on-time' as
> indicated on their website while DHL indicated
> they hadn't yet left Ohio for Texas(confirmed by a
> separate phone call).
>
> I of course urgently needed the ink cartridges to
> print railfan related material.
>
> RailNet802, over

You can now get Dell printer ink cartridges at Staples Office Supply stores. I recently did.

Paul Bliss
Oxnard CA



Date: 07/22/06 09:50
Re: Amtrak taking bids to outsource Call Center service
Author: jst3751

kk5ol Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Haaa haa,
>
> This would be laughable except I just experienced
> a perfect example with ordering ink cartridges for
> my Dell printer. The Dell 'customer service rep'
> with too perfect English and zero intuition
> 'swore' my cartridges would arrive 'on-time' as
> indicated on their website while DHL indicated
> they hadn't yet left Ohio for Texas(confirmed by a
> separate phone call).
>
> I of course urgently needed the ink cartridges to
> print railfan related material.
>
> RailNet802, over


That kind of customer service is not limited to companies with phone centers out of the US. Within the last 2 years, I have gone through the same thing with US based national distibution companies and invloving UPS and Fedex Ground.



Date: 07/22/06 10:23
Re: Amtrak taking bids to outsource Call Center service
Author: coaststarlight99

I would rather talk to Julie then someone in India who speaks limited English. Amtrak use to have 3 call centers, including one in Chicago. Now they only have Riverside and Philadelphia. Not to mention, Riverside is the only center open 24/7 now.



Date: 07/22/06 10:41
Re: Amtrak taking bids to outsource Call Center service
Author: Amtrak288

I'll never forget my experience calling Macromedia (Now Adobe owns them) when I had a problem with Dreamweaver, my web design software. The program needs this stupid product activation thing and my hard drive backup software that I used at the time (PowerQuest DriveImage) didn't save the necessary information in the Master Boot Record of my hard drive so the program would continue to operate as normal when my Operating System was restored, thus, I would get stuck re-activating the program every time I restored the computer, then one day, the program said you have activated too many times, call this # for service. I got some woman named "Theresa" who had a very strong Indian Accent and had a lot of fun trying to explain to her why the program wouldn't run. She gave me 5 re-activations until the problem was eventually fixed. It was an experience I hoped I wouldn't have to go through again, as this person didn't understand my problem immediately!



Date: 07/22/06 10:42
Re: Amtrak taking bids to outsource Call Center service
Author: smitty195

Just great. I'm so tired of calling a company's customer service line, only to be connected to someone who barely speaks English. And if they do speak English, they still have no clue what's going on. Recent examples of horrible outsourced (to India) customer service are MCI, RealAudio, and United Airlines. What a ripoff! I wish they'd keep the jobs here where they belong. Just imagine someone in India trying to help an Amtrak customer with late trains or other issues.



Date: 07/22/06 12:05
Re: Amtrak taking bids to outsource Call Center service
Author: DanV

Many times when talking to someone at a call center in India you get someone with a heavy English accent that its very difficult to understand. So frustration levels begins to rise for the caller. Can't have people calling to make train reservations and not be able to understand the call center agent.



Date: 07/22/06 14:41
Re: Amtrak taking bids to outsource Call Center service
Author: box8513

We recently had the inconvienent experience of being bussed from Seattle to Portland to board number 11, because 14 did not make it to Seattle that previous evening. Since we were in a sleeper, Amtrak called to reinburse us for loss of the sleeper between those two cities. To process the refund, I had the pleasure of talking to two very intelligent and helpful ladies in the Amtrak Customer Relations department in Philadelphia; Alexis and Angelea. Other than the waiting time on the telephone, their response was knowledgeable and friendly. Amtrak should not consider sending that function overseas. Ever.



Date: 07/22/06 15:39
Re: Amtrak taking bids to outsource Call Center service
Author: ProAmtrak

I'll do the easy route, always reserve my tickets at Amtrak.com, simple as that! I for one got an experince on this with my roomate last month when he tried to transfer his internet service from one place to the place we're at, and they gave him the runaround, plus according to him, the customer service rep didn't speak good english! Man if you want to see the American job market go down the tubes like it is now with all foreign crap, this is a good example of that, and I think United really takes the cake!



Date: 07/22/06 17:06
Re: Amtrak taking bids to outsource Call Center service
Author: ThumbsUp

So how long before the trains get outsourced to India too?



Date: 07/22/06 17:17
Re: Amtrak taking bids to outsource Call Center service
Author: coaststarlight99

smitty195 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Just great. I'm so tired of calling a company's
> customer service line, only to be connected to
> someone who barely speaks English. And if they do
> speak English, they still have no clue what's
> going on. Recent examples of horrible outsourced
> (to India) customer service are MCI, RealAudio,
> and United Airlines. What a ripoff! I wish they'd
> keep the jobs here where they belong. Just imagine
> someone in India trying to help an Amtrak customer
> with late trains or other issues.

Amen, You said it just like it is. Add Verizon to that list. I can't even remember how many times I have called Customer Service only to speak to some idiot who has not idea what is going on.



Date: 07/22/06 18:09
Re: Amtrak taking bids to outsource Call Center service
Author: Jaap

Jut remember the technologie exist to fly fighter planes around world by remote.
It would not take much technical effort to have somone with a computer in India to run a train accros the USA.
But we all cater to this trend by shopping at walmart by taking cheap cruises on foreign cruiseships, by buying cheap korean or chineese products and foreign cars.
The multi national corporations don't care if they earn in Dollars, Guilders, Ruppia, Deutch Marks or any other type of money.
With no term limits in Washington DC the multi nationals own congress and senate.
Maybe its time to take away these creeps state pensions if they get caught serving industry but not the public that voted for them.
And just to clarify this applies to both parties.



Date: 07/22/06 18:50
Re: Amtrak taking bids to outsource Call Center service
Author: 1702

Jaap Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Jut remember the technologie exist to fly fighter
> planes around world by remote.
> It would not take much technical effort to have
> somone with a computer in India to run a train
> accros the USA.
> But we all cater to this trend by shopping at
> walmart by taking cheap cruises on foreign
> cruiseships, by buying cheap korean or chineese
> products and foreign cars.
> The multi national corporations don't care if
> they earn in Dollars, Guilders, Ruppia, Deutch
> Marks or any other type of money.
> With no term limits in Washington DC the multi
> nationals own congress and senate.
> Maybe its time to take away these creeps state
> pensions if they get caught serving industry but
> not the public that voted for them.
> And just to clarify this applies to both parties.

Absolutely 100% correct, Jaap! Opening up trade with China has had a disastrous effect on our economy....huge trade deficit & the loss of untold thousands of jobs here. One of these days we'll wake up & find the Chinese owning us lock, stock & barrel.

When the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach had their labor problems (a couple of years ago?), I was stunned to read that the largest import category at the Port is furniture & the largest export scrap paper.
The furniture is coming mostly from China & is costing those employed in our domestic furniture industry dearly....not the furniture companies of course, they just switch production overseas. And all the baled cardboard will be returning to us as boxes of crap which the consumer is conned into thinking he's saving money on.

I know in many cases I'm "preaching to the choir" here, but for those who doubt, may I recommend Lou Dobb's book, "Exporting America".



Date: 07/22/06 19:35
Re: Amtrak taking bids to outsource Call Center service
Author: 567Chant

Do we see the strategy here? Make the call centers user-hostile, and the clientele will WANT to conduct business online. My business bank is Wells Fargo, and dealing with (each new) in-branch employee was so irksome, I now use the ATM/Online whenever possible. I was TRYING to save their jobs! Wasn't I being silly!
...Lorenzo



Date: 07/22/06 20:55
Re: Amtrak taking bids to outsource Call Center service
Author: hesdjjim

Here is a snipit from a recent E-Bulletin from Train Riders Association of California. Parts of it may put some of you at ease, while to others, parts of it might make their blood boil...


TRAC E-Bulletin #06-33
Type: Legislative Update, National
Source: Ross Capon, Executive Director, NARP

On the afternoon of July 20th, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $1.4 billion for Amtrak in FY 2007. The bill also has:

* language authored by Senators Byrd (D-WV) and Murray (D-WA)‹and accepted by Subcommittee Chairman Bond (R-MO)‹that prohibits Amtrak from contracting out overseas, and

* report language by Murray regarding Amtrak's on-time performance.

Reportedly, the bill requires Amtrak to break even on food and beverage and sleeping cars by 2011, with 20% annual improvements each year until then.
More specific details will be available once the "report language" (text of the bill) is available.





Edit: (Notice the original text did not mention Amtrak outsourcing call center services "overseas.")



Date: 07/23/06 15:17
Re: Amtrak taking bids to outsource Call Center service
Author: fjc

Scary Jaap, I actually agree with you ;-)

Jaap Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Jut remember the technologie exist to fly fighter
> planes around world by remote.
> It would not take much technical effort to have
> somone with a computer in India to run a train
> accros the USA.
> But we all cater to this trend by shopping at
> walmart by taking cheap cruises on foreign
> cruiseships, by buying cheap korean or chineese
> products and foreign cars.
> The multi national corporations don't care if
> they earn in Dollars, Guilders, Ruppia, Deutch
> Marks or any other type of money.
> With no term limits in Washington DC the multi
> nationals own congress and senate.
> Maybe its time to take away these creeps state
> pensions if they get caught serving industry but
> not the public that voted for them.
> And just to clarify this applies to both parties.



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