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Canadian Railroads > "New and Improved" VIA Preference Program, now effective May 27


Date: 03/15/23 07:27
"New and Improved" VIA Preference Program, now effective May 27
Author: Jimbo

I called VIA Preference this morning, and according to the agent the start date for the new VIA Preference program is being postponed from the scheduled March 25 date.  The agent did not have a new effective date.  Supposedly it is not yet "ready."  Does anybody have further information?

Here is the thread from earlier discussion on this subject back in January: 

https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?15,5617119



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/27/23 13:09 by Jimbo.



Date: 03/15/23 09:16
Re: "New and Improved" VIA Preference Program start postponed
Author: joemvcnj

What I don't like is that there it is not clear how many points a trip will cost. The pdf only shows sample journeys. I wanted to know how many points Montreal-Brockville would be, could not figure it out, and no answer from them when I asked.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/15/23 12:47 by joemvcnj.



Date: 03/15/23 14:11
Re: "New and Improved" VIA Preference Program start postponed
Author: DrawingroomA

joemvcnj Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> What I don't like is that there it is not clear
> how many points a trip will cost. The pdf only
> shows sample journeys. I wanted to know how many
> points Montreal-Brockville would be, could not
> figure it out, and no answer from them when I
> asked.

VIA has been vague about this. All they say is that the points will be tied to the fare as if we were paying for it. So if we book a discounted fare it will be cheaper than a higher fare. Does this mean that each point will be worth a specified amount of cents and if so how much?  What I dislike is the fact that all but full fare awards will come with a cancellation penalty and we will have to pay sales tax as if it was a paid ticket.

I enquired if Premier members would still receive four coupons every year. The reply said yes but the offers may not be what we are used to. What that means is anyone's guess. 



Date: 03/15/23 18:02
Re: "New and Improved" VIA Preference Program start postponed
Author: BigSkyBlue

So, as is the case with "enhancements" to airline frequent flyer programs, the takeaway is to schedule your trip or trips with VIA points if possible before the new program goes into effect, in order to get more value before the suspected dilution.  BSB



Date: 03/16/23 05:42
Re: "New and Improved" VIA Preference Program start postponed
Author: DrawingroomA

BigSkyBlue Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> So, as is the case with "enhancements" to airline
> frequent flyer programs, the takeaway is to
> schedule your trip or trips with VIA points if
> possible before the new program goes into effect,
> in order to get more value before the suspected
> dilution.  BSB

VIA suggested that somewhere on the Preference site, but it has disappeared or been moved as I can't find it now.  The suggestion was that a member could book a trip under the existing rules and if a better deal appeared under the "new and improved" programme then the original booking could be cancelled at no charge.  



Date: 03/16/23 10:17
Re: "New and Improved" VIA Preference Program start postponed
Author: viatrainrider

Well I was confused also when I booked the trip for my wife and myself for the end of April on the Canadian.  Exactly what they did for me seemed to be a mix of the current program and the new and in my case think it worked to my advantage.



Date: 03/16/23 10:35
Re: "New and Improved" VIA Preference Program start postponed
Author: Jimbo

DrawingroomA Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> BigSkyBlue Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > So, as is the case with "enhancements" to
> airline
> > frequent flyer programs, the takeaway is to
> > schedule your trip or trips with VIA points if
> > possible before the new program goes into
> effect,
> > in order to get more value before the suspected
> > dilution.  BSB
>
> VIA suggested that somewhere on the Preference
> site, but it has disappeared or been moved as I
> can't find it now.  The suggestion was that a
> member could book a trip under the existing rules
> and if a better deal appeared under the "new and
> improved" programme then the original booking
> could be cancelled at no charge.  

Yes, the agent suggested I could make the reservation under the old rules and can cancel if necessary.  At this time I'm not sure when I want to go, but I still might do that.  The agent said that would still work if using points, but I have not seen that in writing.

Has anybody seen anything official from VIA confirming the postponement?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/16/23 10:39 by Jimbo.



Date: 03/16/23 13:36
Re: "New and Improved" VIA Preference Program start postponed
Author: DrawingroomA

Jimbo Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
...
>
> Has anybody seen anything official from VIA
> confirming the postponement?

Yes. The Preference website has had the start date removed. Now it says: "coming in 2023."  That gives them nine and a half months.  This morning I spoke to an agent on the phone and he said they have no idea when it will start.

Another concern I have is the start date for the qualifying year. It has always been the 1st of April. The new plan will start the 1st of May each year. If the new plan is not in effect by the 1st of April, will spending after that date be counted towards the next year as before or will the expected new procedure be the 1st of May? No-one knows.  I have taken the point option for my remaining coupons and don't plan on travelling in April unless something really important comes up.  



Date: 03/16/23 13:56
Re: "New and Improved" VIA Preference Program start postponed
Author: joemvcnj

DrawingroomA Wrote:

> VIA has been vague about this. All they say is
> that the points will be tied to the fare as if we
> were paying for it. So if we book a discounted
> fare it will be cheaper than a higher fare. Does
> this mean that each point will be worth a
> specified amount of cents and if so how much? 
> What I dislike is the fact that all but full fare
> awards will come with a cancellation penalty and
> we will have to pay sales tax as if it was a paid
> ticket.

Finally got an answer from them (Subject "RE: Contact VIA english"). Montreal-Brockville would cost Economy 550 VIA points.
VIA Préférence points is an online payment option if you have enough.

I have 690. I hope all the Canadian taxes would not exceed 140 points. 

At least they don't cancel them. I had to use Amtrak from Newark, NJ to New York ($14) to keep from losing mine since I had not been on a train from mid-2019 to mid-2021. Amtrak's seem to be based on Saver fare and 47 points per $. ($34 = 1,598 pts). 



Date: 03/16/23 19:01
Re: "New and Improved" VIA Preference Program start postponed
Author: DrawingroomA

joemvcnj Wrote:
...
> Finally got an answer from them (Subject "RE:
> Contact VIA english"). Montreal-Brockville would
> cost Economy 550 VIA points.
> VIA Préférence points is an online payment
> option if you have enough.
>
> I have 690. I hope all the Canadian taxes would
> not exceed 140 points. 
>
...
That reward amount of 550 points is the current number of points for a short-haul trip in the corridor. VIA won't tell us how many points it will cost when Preference is "new and improved". All they will say is it will depend on the fare in effect at the time the member books the award ticket. There are up to five different fares for the same corridor trip: three for Economy and two for Business Class. Those fares can change closer to the travel date. So what appears to be full fare in either Economy or Business can actually get higher.

This shows the current charts. Bookings made before the change (whenever that is) will, of course, be honoured.

https://www.viapreference.com/en/redeeming
 



Date: 03/17/23 07:51
Re: "New and Improved" VIA Preference Program start postponed
Author: joemvcnj

Now when I try to make such a resevvation, points option to pay does not show up. 690 pts ought to do it. So I sent them another query. 



Date: 03/19/23 13:08
Re: "New and Improved" VIA Preference Program start postponed
Author: DrawingroomA

joemvcnj Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Now when I try to make such a resevvation, points
> option to pay does not show up. 690 pts ought to
> do it. So I sent them another query. 

I tried several pairs of cities and it gave me the option of points or money each time. Perhaps it was a temporary glitch. 



Date: 03/21/23 09:49
Re: "New and Improved" VIA Preference Program start postponed
Author: Jimbo

Yesterday I received an email from VIA confirming the postponement.  Part of the email:


On January 23, 2023, we informed our members of the important changes coming to the VIA Préférence program.

Please note that these changes will not take effect on March 25 as previously announced, but at a later date that will be communicated to you in the coming weeks. However, the changes themselves remain the same as those communicated in January. You can read the updated VIA Préférence terms and conditions in their entirety here.

Thank you for your understanding and for your participation in the program!

Your VIA Préférence team




 



Date: 03/27/23 13:07
"New and Improved" VIA Preference Program, now effective May 27
Author: Jimbo

In an email today VIA announced the effective date of the "New and Improved" program.  Part of the information:


As you may know, we recently postponed the introduction of the VIA Préférence program changes that were announced on January 23, 2023.

We’re pleased to inform you that these changes will come into effect on May 27, 2023. They were designed with members like you in mind, to offer you more value than ever before.

The updated VIA Préférence terms and conditions are available in their entirety here. You can also view a side-by-side comparison of the current and updated terms and conditions here. Except for the effective date, nothing has changed since the announcement on January 23.

Thank you for your participation in the program and stay tuned for more information about the upcoming changes!



Date: 03/27/23 15:12
Re: "New and Improved" VIA Preference Program, now effective May
Author: DrawingroomA

A few weeks ago I e-mailed VIA Preference. As often with VIA management, I didn't get a straight answer to some of my questions. 

There was an answer to one question, which was.about the coupons. I was assured that members at the two higher levels would continue to get two or four coupons. I was advised that the particular offers may be different from what I am used to.

The coupons are valid starting May 1st of each year, so members will have 27 days to book their free or discounted trips using the coupons before the changes. We can avoid the sales tax on free trips for one thing. 



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