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SNCF Problems - It's Not Your Imagination

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SNCF Problems - It's Not Your Imagination

Old Jul 28th, 2005, 09:11 AM
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SNCF Problems - It's Not Your Imagination

I've just spent the better part of the morning wrestling with the SNCF website trying to book four tickets from Rennes to Avignon. Time and time again, the site absolutely would not give me the option to pick up the tickets in France. The ONLY option was to have them mailed, but the tickets are going to a family in the USA, and that's not an option either.

I didn't want to risk filling in a U.S. address with the country name FRANCE at the end of it, so I called the SNCF line and spoke at length to a very helpful guy. He says numerous people have been calling to report the same thing, and that he has already spoken to his manager about this. He said his manager implied that perhaps there was some malfunction on the website, but "entre nous" he thinks maybe the website has actually been changed, temporarily at least, to discourage people in the USA from buying directly from the site and to encourage them to go through RailEurope, which we all know costs more.
So, if you're having the same problem with the SNCF site, pick up the phone and call for your tickets. You get the same low fares shown on the site, and they'll give you a five-letter code to present at the guichet.
The number is (from the USA) 011-33-8-92-35-35-39. Press 2 for English-speaking operators.
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 09:35 AM
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Seems like strictly a business decision since SNCF is the major stakeholder in RailEurope - the President of RE is always from the SNCF. I'm not agreeing with the policy but from a business standpoint it makes perfect dollars and cents.
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 09:53 AM
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Thanks for the info StCirq. I have a SNCF Carte 12-25 (a rail card that gives me a 25-50% discount on trains and 25% discount on United Airlines) and I don't think I can buy tickets using the card on the RailEurope site.
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 09:57 AM
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I don't quibble with it being a sound business decision, I'm just glad I know how to get around the system!

And TransitBuddie: I've had discount cards in the past, and now I belong to the Maximiles program. Do ya think Rail Europe's gonna hand out Maximiles or honor a discount card? Somehow I think not!
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 10:40 AM
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Getting around the system? And why not when Rail Europe (Canadian site) wants to charge me $180 Canadian for a First Class return ticket Paris/Caen in early October and SNCF`s rate is $75.00 Canadian. And I can print my own ticket.
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 10:53 AM
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okay for it malfunctioning sometimes, but I don't understand the theory that SNCF is doing this on purpose. How will they know which online transactions to do this to? They would have to know someone was saying they were in France, but were really not, and were not only not in France, but didn't intend to be in France or something (French people could be using the site while in a neighboring country or on vacation, couldn't they?).

I don't know enough about computers to know if it is possible for them to know where a computer request is coming from (I think you would have to have a map of all of those long 10 digits numbers or something; maybe they are assigned by country to ISPs, I don't know).

However, let's say they know you are really in the US and saying you are in France, and they don't care if you are really French or not -- as a business decision, wouldn't dealing with all the problems, complaints, and mailing tickets to the US with addresses saying they are in France, etc., be rather problematic for the company?

I don't know, I just used it last week from the US, and got the option to pick up in France, not mail.
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 12:01 PM
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I had a similar experience last week trying to buy tickets for two different segments at same time.Like you indicated, the web site gave me no option to print or pick them up at the station.

I separated the transaction into two purachases, one segment per purchase, gave me an option to print one and and an option to pickup another in France without having to supply any address.
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 12:10 PM
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I'm not suggesting they have somehow rigged their computers to know that someone in the USA is trying to buy tickets - that would be impossible. I'm saying that right now - or all morning, at least - you simply could not get the option of paying online for your tickets and then picking the tickets up in France. The "retirer vos billets à la gare" option did not exist.
Last week I too had no problem buying tickets on line and printing them out. Today it's different, and the SNCF guy I talked to said he had had a lot of calls to the same effect.
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