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Old Apr 10, 11, 9:30 pm   #1
 
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Unhappy Really, does Amtrak always suck so badly?

Just wondering. We were SOOOO looking forward to our train trip from San Antonio, TX to Chicago, IL.

OMG. Nightmare. It was mainly due to the attitudes of the Amtrak employees. As my eldest (18 year old) son put it "Geez, they act like we bought our tickets with food stamps!" And they totally did. It was as if they were doing us some huge favor.

They told us several times they'd overbooked and this was going to be a crowded trip. I mean they flat out said that they had OVER SOLD. Isn't that kind of a bad idea?? Anyway, EVERY stop they repeated this and in a very very snarky way told us we needed to make sure to not have our stuff in an empty seat next to us, which I understand, but why so freakin' rude? And interestingly enough, our car NEVER filled up so I don't know what all the blah blah was about.

They told us they were running out of food. They announced the first call for breakfast, we got on the list, and didn't get the craptacular "breakfast" for another 3 hours. Mostly, EVERYTHING said over the PA was said in the most rude, condescending manner I've ever experienced. I think I've been treated better, generally, at the DMV!

One sad and laughable moment was when they told us to keep children off the floor and keep shoes on because "these floors are filthy"!

Oh, and it was hot. How hard would it be to have some sort of little vent/fan option on each seat, like on a plane? It was uncomfortable for most of the trip.

Well I could go on but you get the idea. Worst part of the story; due to someone else's BS, we missed our return train home by about ten minutes, and when we tried to book another train the following day, it was $500 more than what we originally paid. Ouch. So we just drove home, and now we have a $385 travel credit with Amtrak.... and I'd rather slit my wrists than travel Amtrak again. But we might muster up the courage, sans children, and for a short trip only, just to not let it go to waste.
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Old Apr 10, 11, 11:51 pm   #2
 
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Okay, so you needed to vent.

And your specific complaints are:

(1) They didn't make all requests in a nice enough manner,
(2) They didn't provide you with your own personal thermostat, which as we know is standard on all other means of travel, and
(3) When you missed your train through your own fault, they gave you full credit for future travel (and in fact would have even given you cash back minus 10% if you had asked). Despite that in general airlines would never let you do this with an advance purchase ticket, you remain upset that they didn't also offer to reschedule you on the next train for free.


It sounds like an absolutely horrible trip.
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Old Apr 11, 11, 5:54 am   #3
 
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Wirelessly posted (BlackBerry8320/4.5.0.81 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/100)

There are some snarky conductors on the NEC, too. I guess you kind of get used to it.
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Old Apr 11, 11, 9:05 pm   #4
 
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Overall I find Amtrak crews more genuine than flight crews, who seem more scripted and stilted. This can cut both ways.

Truly terrible flight attendants: maybe 1 per 100 flights. Truly terrible Amtrak attendants: maybe 1 per 25 rides. Having said that, I've encountered some of the most professional and genuinely friendly people in the travel industry aboard Amtrak trains.

Amtrak is really a world of extremes. Report the bad ones, commend the good ones, and perhaps the internal personnel process will eventually arrive at the right answer. (Or attempt the viral route; YouTube video/audio of particularly unprofessional behavior tends to gets noticed by the top brass!)
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Old Apr 13, 11, 10:30 am   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notacolour View Post
Okay, so you needed to vent.

And your specific complaints are:

(1) They didn't make all requests in a nice enough manner,
(2) They didn't provide you with your own personal thermostat, which as we know is standard on all other means of travel, and
(3) When you missed your train through your own fault, they gave you full credit for future travel (and in fact would have even given you cash back minus 10% if you had asked). Despite that in general airlines would never let you do this with an advance purchase ticket, you remain upset that they didn't also offer to reschedule you on the next train for free.


It sounds like an absolutely horrible trip.
I don't think having a little fan at each seat is the same as wanting my "own personal thermostat". Just some air circulation, that's all.

I don't blame Amtrak for the missed train, and I DID expect to have to pay more for the next train. Just not $100 more per person. We chose Amtrak for the economical aspect, and at that price it just makes no sense anymore, when you consider the time factor and the rudeness.

And no, we couldn't get a cash refund because of the type of tickets we purchased in the first place. I asked!

I don't think they asked or said ANYTHING nicely, hence my need to vent. I do think that's a big deal. Regardless of how you are traveling or how much you pay, there's no need for employees to be rude, no excuse for it. And I also don't understand the justification for over-booking and running out of food. I don't expect drinks and snacks and such like you'd get on a flight, really I don't... but the running out of food thing was a shocker to me.

As for the airline difference; I have been flying since I was a baby, and I am 39 years old. I flew 3 or 4 times a year every year from age 3 to my 20's, and started flying solo at age 6. I can recall maybe TWO times in all those flights where I encountered this sort of rudeness. And even in those cases it was one person, not the whole crew. That's all I'm saying.

Anyway we will probably use our remaining credit on a shorter trip with no kids along with us, just because I can't see wasting the money. Maybe the second time will be better.
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Old Apr 13, 11, 7:45 pm   #6
 
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I fly at least one round trip a month, and used to do at least one round trip per week. It's pretty common for flight crews to announce, "we have a full flight, so use the overhead bins for large items, and store your items and get seated as quickly as possible."

I don't usually encounter rudeness on planes or trains but I'd rather deal with rude employees than with a 6-hour delay (involving 1 canceled flight, which had been delayed an hour, and then an "on time" flight leaving 4 hours late) on my flight this past weekend. Amtrak got you there roughly (?) on time, and for the fare you paid- that's better than most flights in my experience (which usually involve some change fee, delay, etc.).
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Old Apr 14, 11, 5:33 pm   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MissAnthrope View Post
there's no need for employees to be rude, no excuse for it. ABSOLUTELY TRUE. And Amtrak has struggled with this since day one. Many employees think that since you are on a train, and can't go anywhere else, they can treat you like dirt. It's getting better, but WAY to SLOWLY. I've preached for years that Amtrak could, virtually overnight, increase their business among repeat-casual-passengers ten fold or more, if the employees just treated the passengers like Disney employees treat the theme park visitors.

Anyway we will probably use our remaining credit on a shorter trip with no kids along with us, just because I can't see wasting the money. Maybe the second time will be better.
I used to work in customer service, for a company I was part owner of, and OFTEN had to deal with customers who had experienced a "less than pleasureable event" and I often asked them: "Give me a chance to make it up, if we screw up a second time, I'll refund your money...." So yes, give Amtrak a second chance, because truth-be-told, "Bad crews" tend to stick (work) together, but eh same is true for "Good crews".
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Old Apr 16, 11, 7:51 am   #8
 
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Originally Posted by MissAnthrope View Post
OMG. Nightmare. It was mainly due to the attitudes of the Amtrak employees.
NIGHTMARE? Seriously? Just because you found an Amtrak employee's tone of voice to be rude? It's just a bit too dramatic for anybody to equate rudeness with a NIGHTMARE.

I deal with rude people on a daily basis and it doesn't bother me. As long as I have a comfortable ride and arrive safely and on time on Amtrak, I am happy. Next time, bring noise-canceling headphones if you want to shield your ears from rude announcements. You'll be a lot happier.
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Old Apr 18, 11, 11:02 pm   #9
 
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Originally Posted by gatelouse View Post
Overall I find Amtrak crews more genuine than flight crews, who seem more scripted and stilted. This can cut both ways.

Truly terrible flight attendants: maybe 1 per 100 flights. Truly terrible Amtrak attendants: maybe 1 per 25 rides. Having said that, I've encountered some of the most professional and genuinely friendly people in the travel industry aboard Amtrak trains.

Amtrak is really a world of extremes. Report the bad ones, commend the good ones, and perhaps the internal personnel process will eventually arrive at the right answer. (Or attempt the viral route; YouTube video/audio of particularly unprofessional behavior tends to gets noticed by the top brass!)
Agree. Generally, here in IL, we get the good ones. I mean it. The conductors and attendants on the Lincoln Service are just great. But, some of the other Amtrak employees...whew. I will say that our experiences on the sleepers is 100% positive.

I still vastly prefer Amtrak employees, even with their "rudeness," to travelling via plane nowadays. Yuck.
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Old Apr 22, 11, 6:14 am   #10
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Originally Posted by DCBob View Post
NIGHTMARE? Seriously? Just because you found an Amtrak employee's tone of voice to be rude? It's just a bit too dramatic for anybody to equate rudeness with a NIGHTMARE.

I deal with rude people on a daily basis and it doesn't bother me. As long as I have a comfortable ride and arrive safely and on time on Amtrak, I am happy. Next time, bring noise-canceling headphones if you want to shield your ears from rude announcements. You'll be a lot happier.
Kinda strong on that post, aren't you DCBob. People are entitled to their opinion and may interpret things differently. Just because you could solve this with a pair if headphones doesn't mean that others could or even should get over it so easily/in the same manner. YMMV.

I have had short haul trips ruined by poor customer service, it happens. On amtrak in particular, there are some people who do not belong in customer facing positions.

Last edited by GoingAway; Apr 22, 11 at 9:01 am.
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Old Apr 22, 11, 7:04 am   #11
 
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You know, I have found that if you give someone a smile it improves the day for both you and the other person.....I guess it doesn't work 100% of the time, but for me it works often enough to give it a try......
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Old Apr 23, 11, 7:38 am   #12
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoingAway View Post
Kinda strong on that post, aren't you DCBob. People are entitled to their opinion and may interpret things differently. Just because you could solve this with a pair if headphones doesn't mean that others could or even should get over it so easily/in the same manner. YMMV.

I have had short haul trips ruined by poor customer service, it happens. On amtrak in particular, there are some people who do not belong in customer facing positions.
Thankfully, both of us are entitled to our opinions and are able to freely discuss them in this forum. It's still my opinion that rude announcements should not turn a trip on Amtrak into a nightmare. Some obviously disagree.
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Old Apr 23, 11, 7:46 am   #13
 
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Looks like the Amtrak Conductor's

Union has taken over this thread. The passenger is always wrong and hence not entitled to an opinion, right?
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Old Apr 23, 11, 7:49 am   #14
 
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Originally Posted by sdtumbleweed View Post
You know, I have found that if you give someone a smile it improves the day for both you and the other person.....I guess it doesn't work 100% of the time, but for me it works often enough to give it a try......
Thanks for the advice. How do you know OP didn't try that? Amtrak is a failing institution that needs a total remake or an early funeral. The same attitude killed the private passenger railroads and it goes waay back.
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Old Apr 23, 11, 8:31 am   #15
 
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Originally Posted by iquitos View Post
Thanks for the advice. How do you know OP didn't try that? Amtrak is a failing institution that needs a total remake or an early funeral. The same attitude killed the private passenger railroads and it goes waay back.
You're welcome......I have no idea if the OP smiled or not.....I guess I have been quite fortunate as in all of my AMTRAK travels I have been very impressed by the professionalism of the crews and find them far more congenial than some of the airline people I have dealt with....but I still try to give them a smile......
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