SNCF Aaarrrrgh! (a rant)

Apr 29th, 2015, 05:23 PM
  #1  
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SNCF Aaarrrrgh! (a rant)

I easily bought tkts a few days ago from Paris to Brugges, w/NO problems (well except for forgetting to call CC co, before my 1st attempt, which was declined but then smooth sailing) …..now I was just was on the site for at least an hour and a half inputting every credit card I own to no avail. I must assume the problem is on their end, after having several (borderline testy--on my part) conversations with the CC companies we had previously notified of our travel…..very frustrating as there were some incredibly cheap PREMs from Mannheim to Dijon that we will now probably miss out on b/c of not being able to pay for them in a timely fashion!!

Has anyone else had this kind of (what I hope will be temporary) trouble with the site?
socialworker is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 05:35 PM
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Maybe try www.capitainetrain.com?

We used that site for our train tickets in France about 18 months ago with no difficulties. And we were able to get the same pricing as the SNCF site--no markups like the RailEurope pricing.
k_marie is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 05:46 PM
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And we were able to get the same pricing as the SNCF site--no markups like the RailEurope pricing.>

and check RailEurope indeed as now they I understand tap into www.sncf.voyages.com offerings - they did not long ago so that IMO is misinformation - check them indeed - the mark-up is about $7 a ticket.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 05:51 PM
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Bless you, k_marie!!! Success on the 1st try! And b/c they are the same seat #s that were showing up on SNCF, I am more sure than ever that the SNCF site is just not working properly right now!
socialworker is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 05:54 PM
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Thank you. Pal, I was on the capitan site and did not see your post. I had already been on Rail Europe before I wrote my OP and the same 1st class tkts that I just got for 138 euros were >300. No PREMs on their site….
socialworker is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 06:01 PM
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No they do not yet carry all the fares but I always say to check because on some if not many they now are tapping into their parent company - SNCF with a minority stake by the Swiss Railways into www.voyages-sncf.com. Sooner or later my inside sources at RE say they will match their parent company's online offerings plus a reasonable fee.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 06:15 PM
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Pal, it is good to know that RailEurope may be more competitive in the future. Just today I was attempting to help my daughter purchase tickets for a rail journey in Norway. When checking RailEurope, I found their prices to be significantly higher than direct purchase. But RailEurope would have been so much easier to use.
k_marie is offline  
Apr 30th, 2015, 12:32 AM
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RE say they will match their parent company's online offerings plus a reasonable fee.


RailEurope does not list PREM fares, does not list iDTGV trains, makes no mention of the SNCF´s Flash Sales, does not list the entirety of what´s left of the schedule, yet you only pay a small amount more for each ticket.

Meanwhile, www.capitainetrain.com/ sells any ticket that might be available on the SNCF website and does it for exactly the same price with no mark up.

Why would anyone waste his time, and money, with RE?
Sarastro is online now  
Apr 30th, 2015, 07:48 AM
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Just on principle alone I would never recommend RailEurope because their entire business model seems to be built around ripping off people from certain countries.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Apr 30th, 2015, 10:06 AM
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FMT, I don't agree with you. In fact, when they started, there was no way for anyone else to buy tickets for European trains, I remember that time. Or to go to a US travel agent who somehow could get them, maybe through Raileurope. They also sell rail passes.

So their business model started as a way for foreigners to get rail tickets in Europe. Of course it is a for profit business, they aren't a charity, so they have a markup.

And many many people even today are not comfortable buying tickets online or using computers for things like that. I have relatives who are not senile, and they couldn't do that, they go to AA or a travel agent for everything. Raileurope at least might be doable for them, with a phone number you can call with English speakers, actual rail company websites in Europe would be impossible for them, or calling up Europe.

I have no problem with Raileurope and what they do, it serves a purpose and historically especially did. The one thing I think they could do better was their mailing/handling fees, as I recall, those are a little high. Maybe now with country-specific websites that are better, they will drop margins a bit. But they still are not a nonprofit charity.
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Apr 30th, 2015, 10:25 AM
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But what's the point now that there is www.capitainetrain.com? It's fully in English and offers the same schedules and ticket prices that you can buy from SNCF. And it is much more credit card friendly to foreign credit cards than SNCF. I bought a Eurail Pass in 1994 when it was a good deal and paid $1,500 for a two month pass that gave me unlimited travel in 17 countries (including France) and gave me first class passenger access. I most definitely got my money's worth out of that and I was thankful for the ability RailEurope gave me to explore Europe at what I considered a fair price. But that was before the rise of the internet. SNCF sells tickets to people in many countries at the same rates they offer French citizens but for some countries they want to charge people more. I find that to be gouging and I think the folks who started capitainetrain saw a niche that needed to be filled. I'll agree that RailEurope once used to be a good way for foreigners to buy their train tickets but that is no longer the case. Anyone visiting a travel agent who buys train tickets from RailEurope should stop using that travel agent because that's proof enough that the travel agent isn't knowledgeable enough to find the cheapest ticket prices. I guess we just don't see eye to eye on this Christina.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Apr 30th, 2015, 11:32 AM
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Oh, thank god that so many people want to overpay. It ensures cheaper fares for the rest of us!
kerouac is offline  
Apr 30th, 2015, 11:42 AM
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Rail Europe and its rival ACP Rail of Quebec make most of their money not buy selling passes or tickets but from groups and group tours.

and anyone who says they are always overpriced simply knows beans about it - I can find Italian and German fares sometimes cheaper - yes cheaper than for the equivalent ticket on those national rail sites and not everyone wants to spend hours tracking down fares on those at times frustrating sites - trenitalia.com has flummoxed many folks for years - ditto www.renfe.com for Spain and www.voyages-sncf.com is not always easy either.

Lots of folks like kerouac spouting off on something they know absoslutely nothing about and making general statements solely by repeating what they've heard - often now outdates info - repeat something enough and folks will believe it - like the Fodor's mantr railpasses are always a rip-off - ain't tru now and wasn't true ever yet some folks just repeat things without doing their onw investigation and those that do often report only the most off-kilter findings.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 30th, 2015, 05:20 PM
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But Pal, no one is talking about Italian or German trains here, we're talking about French trains. I have absolutely no problems using the SNCF website because I live in France, use the French version of the site, have a French bank card and there is nothing confusing about it. It works perfectly fine for me. But folks who don't speak or read French and are from certain countries risk getting redirected to RailEurope and despite the fact that occasionally their fares are not much different than SNCF prices the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of their fares are greater than SNCF or capitainetrain. Why overpay when you don't have to? Who cares how RailEurope makes most of their money? What has that got to do with anything? The fact is they have a business model designed to take advantage of uninformed/naive people and I find that distasteful.
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