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Renfe Tickets by Phone?

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Jan 24th, 2011, 10:34 AM
  #1
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Renfe Tickets by Phone?

Someone has posted on Tripadvisor, in the Madrid forum, that he spoke with a Renfe agent at the Atocha train station as was informed of a new policy: the Renfe website will simply not accept a US credit card that has not previously been used in Spain to purchase tickets at a station. In other words, a first-time visitor to Spain will not be able to use the website to purchase tickets no matter how many times he or she tries, regardless whether he or she has signed up with "Verified by Visa" and called the Credit card issuer in advance.

The person who posted this is a long-time and reliable member of both TA and this forum, so I believe him. But if anyone can confirm or disprove this, II'd love more information.

Assuming this is true, we won't be able to buy our tickets online for our trip in April/May. I am concerned because we will be traveling at peak holiday and festival times---going from Barcelona to Toledo at the start of the Labor Day (May 1) holiday weekend, and traveling Madrid to Seville on the first day of the Feria. I am worried that the trains we need will be sold out if I have to wait until we arrive in Spain to buy our tickets.

What are my options? Can I purchase the tickets from Renfe over the phone? If so, what form of written confirmation do I get?

And if I can' t do it over the phone with Renfe, what are my other options? I guess there is RailEurope as a last resort, but I recall reading about a UK agency that will work with Renfe and offer available discounts (at least Estrella fares) as well. Has anyone used this service?

I appreciate all help and sdvice on this. (I am actually losing sleep over it.) Thanks!
enzian is offline  
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Jan 24th, 2011, 11:05 AM
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We just got back from talking to Renfe customer service at Chamartin Station. Supposedly, you will not be able to purchase tickets online or by phone until you have verified your credit card by purchasing a ticket here in Spain. The verification process is only good for one year. The agent said this goes for both foreigners and Spaniards (but most Spaniards do not purchase tickets online). The information was a little more detailed, but until someone can confirm the situation, I'd try calling Renfe if you are unable to purchase your tickets online and let us know what happens.

As far as using another agency, I'd us Petrabax before going with Rail Europe.
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Jan 24th, 2011, 11:31 AM
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What a mess! Is there any chance that your hotel might get the tickets for you? You could offer to send copies of your credit card and to pay a small surcharge.
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Jan 24th, 2011, 11:42 AM
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I guess I could try my hotel, but I assume I
d have to do that separately for each apir of tickets we need (we are going Barcelona to Toledo (via Madrid); toledo back to Madrid and onward to Sevilla; Sevilla to Granada, and Granada back to Madrid with a stopover in Cordoba.)

I can't tell from Rober's description whether I still might be able to burchase online if I get my card Verified by Visa.

I'm thinking my option are, in this order:

1. Try to purchase over the website. (Appears to be hopeless)

2. Call Renfe and try to buy over the phone (an expenxive phone call for me).

3. Use an agency. Is Petrabax the most reliable? What about http://www.spanish-rail.co.uk/? They say they are the "official" agency for Renfe tickets in the UK. Service charge appears to be 10 euro per ticket, but they do pass on Web and Estralla discounts if available. I'm a little uncomfortable with this as they send the tickets through the mail from the UK to the US.

I'd still like to hear if anyone has actually purchased over the phone, and what form of cinfirmation is given.
enzian is offline  
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Jan 24th, 2011, 01:13 PM
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I call on the phone but i hav a spanish amex card and live here. Give it a try. Otherwise the hotel is a good option.

www.rumbo.es includes train travel when looking for flights. try them.
lincasanova is online now  
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Jan 24th, 2011, 01:16 PM
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just tried rumbo. I think this may be a solution. they have a tab that is only for trains ..
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Jan 24th, 2011, 01:56 PM
  #7
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Excellent! Thank you, lincasanova. I just registered on the rumbo website. It looks easier to use than Renfe. I love the part that says, if you don't receive the e-mail confirmation the same day, to call. "Estaremos encantados de ayudarle."

I just hope I don't have to do that, as I can read Spanish but cannot speak at all!
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Jan 24th, 2011, 02:28 PM
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great!I amy have found something. I am curious to see if they do web or estrella fares or only full fares. if you are playing around with it.. go to renfe site and see what day and time there is a webfare for any train, then go to rumbo and see what they offer.

I'd love to but need to go to bed before 2 am for a change.
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Jan 24th, 2011, 03:45 PM
  #9
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They do show web and estrella fares where avilable (I compared with Rrenfe and they match up for the same trains.) The curioous thing is that the rumbo prices are several euro LOWER than the Renfe fare; they show the Renfe price and then apply a "descuinto", and say it is "applied to agency fees" if I read it correctly. So for the Barcelona to madrid train, one with a Web fare still available, rumbo says 49,80 euro and Renfe says 55,50. The full "adulto" fare is 109 versus 117,60.

Any idea whey the rumbo fares would be lower? Do they apply a service fee later in the transaction?

I guess we'll talk more mañana. It's very late in Spain!
enzian is offline  
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Jan 25th, 2011, 01:06 AM
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you will probably be charged to use you r credit charge or something. who knows until you go all the way through the process. Wow.This is great news.
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Jan 25th, 2011, 01:08 AM
  #11
 
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also the discount may be a temporary special offer. These mega websites have stuff like that occasionally.
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Jan 25th, 2011, 02:58 AM
  #12
 
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Well done both.

I have run a couple of trials on www.rumbo.es

One example.
Madrid to Malaga 7th March journey 1235 hrs., one way.
Renfe - web fare €35.10
Rumbo - Total €42.20.
Comprising web fare €34.20(?)
plus management fee per ticket of €13.00
less discount of €5.00 per ticket.
Total €42.20

I have checked for two people and the same pluses and minuses apply.

Certainly Rumbo will give a saving on both normal fare and estrella fare if you you have the frustrations of the credit card connectivity from outside Europe.

Best wishes.
WomBatt is offline  
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Jan 25th, 2011, 03:02 AM
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...and there is no problem with credit card security/connectivity on Rumbo.
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Jan 25th, 2011, 06:00 AM
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This is! great news! MAny thanks..
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Jan 25th, 2011, 06:01 AM
  #15
 
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Lin, thanks for the great suggestion!

Enzian, I hope Rumbo works for you. Pls come back and let us know if you were able to buy your tickets.
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Jan 25th, 2011, 06:06 AM
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Wombatt,

How do you know there is no foreign credit card problem with Rumbo also?
cruiseluv is offline  
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Jan 25th, 2011, 06:51 AM
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Sorry, I realise that my addition can be taken two ways.

I meant 'Certainly Rumbo will give a saving on both normal fare and estrella fare if you you have the frustrations of the credit card connectivity from outside Europe and there is ALSO no problem with credit card security/connectivity on Rumbo.'

We must await a North American or whomever who is frustrated to try Rumbo.
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Jan 25th, 2011, 07:00 AM
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I have booked on rumbo for a friend with NZ credit card. Let's wait and see. Rumbo may also have american website. I know they have a .com, but might be based in mexico.

You also have www.edreams.com.. so hope one of the two solve problems for the US renfe wannabe purchasers.
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Jan 25th, 2011, 08:20 AM
  #19
 
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Progress on TA today for purchase on RENFE.

http://tiny.cc/vdkq5 at #17.

It would appear that enrolment in
'Verified for Visa' or 'Mastercode Securecode' may do the trick.
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Jan 25th, 2011, 11:02 AM
  #20
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Yes, I saw that too. I registered my card with Verified by Visa yesterday. I won't be able to buy my first ticket until Feb. 27 (assuming I have counted the 62 days correctly), but I am monitoring all reports regarding Renfe purchases.

I feel like I'm gearing up for a major tournament or something!
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