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minnrider

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 22, 2020
Messages
25
I recently sent an email to Amtrak customer relations regarding broken air conditioning in my sleeping car on a recent trip, which resulted in very warm and uncomfortable conditions. I received an acknowledgement that my email was received. I'm curious how long I should wait for a response; one week, two weeks, or longer? At what point would you follow up with a phone call? Also, what type of resolution could I expect from Amtrak?
 
My experience with emailing Amtrak was that it just wastes time so I would simply call instead. Calmly and succinctly explain how the lack of AC negatively impacted your comfort and how the experience was detrimental to your enjoyment of the trip. Usually I would expect them to offer a good will voucher toward future travel. Amounts and expiry will vary depending on the situation and refunds are rare unless your trip was cancelled or you were left stranded.
 
Agree with DA and pennyk. Call. Emails to Amtrak are sucked into a black hole.

DA's estimation of the compensation seems about right to me, btw.
Is there a direct phone number to Amtrak Customer Relations? I've searched high and low without success to find one. Otherwise, calling 800-USA-RAIL has a long wait time just to get an agent who then transfers you to Customer Relations with probably additional wait time.
 
Is there a direct phone number to Amtrak Customer Relations? I've searched high and low without success to find one. Otherwise, calling 800-USA-RAIL has a long wait time just to get an agent who then transfers you to Customer Relations with probably additional wait time.
If you are an AGR member, phone that number and then ask to be connected to Customer Relations. There is no direct phone number. If you are not an AGR number, phone the main number possibly at 8am eastern time (M-F) for the shortest wait time for Customer Relations. Yes, you may have to wait twice.
 
On 6/28, I was riding the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to San Jose when at 11:15am we struck a county water truck in Moorpark CA and derailed. Yes, it was scary and as it was happening I did recall the Southwest Chief derailment in Iowa a year earlier, but I came through it relatively unscathed— I broke a fingernail. That’s not what this post is about.

By 6pm, Amtrak got us back to LAX Union Station and I spoke with an intake agent who got my details. I noted I was on my way to San Jose (I refrained from asking him if he knew the way) and that I had plans for the next morning. He said it might take another couple of hours to sort out how they’d get me to San Jose. I noted that by then it would be too late for me to depart LA, that any arrangements made that late would not get me to San Jose in time, but that I had found a flight leaving LA at 9:15pm that was only about $250. Putting me up in a decent hotel would have cost about $200 alone. If I waited for them to approve it (and transportation to and from airports), I wouldn’t be able to make the flight. He said he was not able to approve it right then and there, but it sounded reasonable— I could opt to pay out of pocket and call 800-USA-RAIL to file a claim for reimbursement. I got an Uber and booked the flight on the way to the airport.

I knew I’d need to send receipts, so I waited until I returned home to use my laptop (being an old geezer, I don’t have the computer savvy to do that from just my phone). I called on 7/5 and spoke with an agent who transferred me to Customer Relations. That agent informed me that I needed to email the request with receipts to [email protected], which I did. The total came to $320 with Uber rides on each end, as the hotel was not within walking distance from the airport as it was from the train station.

I received an automated reply, noting emails are answered in the order in which they’re received, and including directions to call 800-USA-RAIL for general assistance. In retrospect, it did not say to call in order to follow up, but after a week with no response, call them I did.

I told Julie I needed Customer Relations and was transferred to a regular agent. After explaining I needed to speak to Customer Relations and why, I was put on hold for ten minutes before being informed I needed to be transferred to Customer Relations. After being on hold for a half-hour (there’s no option to request a callback), I reached a CR agent. It took a while to make her understand that all I was asking for was a status update, but she was able to confirm that a case was opened on 7/6 and gave me the case number. She could help me no further, because it’s at the level of corporate Customer Relations, and she’s not empowered to authorize refunds for anything but what’s spent directly with Amtrak. I asked for a number for corporate Customer Relations, and was told they only communicate via email. She advised me not to bother trying to call back, as there was nothing they could do at her level. She suggested I send them an email to ask about the status, which seemed fruitless to me since I was asking why I hadn’t received a response to the first email, but I sent it 7/12, referencing the case number. Another automated response, nothing since.

Any suggestions on how I can resolve this? Wait patiently? Contact my local TV station’s consumer watchdog? Try to contact Stephen Gardner?
 
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On 6/28, I was riding the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to San Jose when at 11:15am we struck a county water truck in Moorpark CA and derailed. Yes, it was scary and as it was happening I did recall the Southwest Chief derailment in Iowa a year earlier, but I came through it relatively unscathed— I broke a fingernail. That’s not what this post is about.

By 6pm, Amtrak got us back to LAX Union Station and I spoke with an intake agent who got my details. I noted I was on my way to San Jose (I refrained from asking him if he knew the way) and that I had plans for the next morning. He said it might take another couple of hours to sort out how they’d get me to San Jose. I noted that by then it would be too late for me to depart LA, that any arrangements made that late would not get me to San Jose in time, but that I had found a flight leaving LA at 9:15pm that was only about $250. Putting me up in a decent hotel would have cost about $200 alone. If I waited for them to approve it (and transportation to and from airports), I wouldn’t be able to make the flight. He said he was not able to approve it right then and there, but it sounded reasonable— I could opt to pay out of pocket and call 800-USA-RAIL to file a claim for reimbursement. I got an Uber and booked the flight on the way to the airport.

I knew I’d need to send receipts, so I waited until I returned home to use my laptop (being an old geezer, I don’t have the computer savvy to do that from just my phone). I called on 7/5 and spoke with an agent who transferred me to Customer Relations. That agent informed me that I needed to email the request with receipts to [email protected], which I did. The total came to $320 with Uber rides on each end, as the hotel was not within walking distance from the airport as it was from the train station.

I received an automated reply, noting emails are answered in the order in which they’re received, and including directions to call 800-USA-RAIL for general assistance. In retrospect, it did not say to call in order to follow up, but after a week with no response, call them I did.

I told Julie I needed Customer Relations and was transferred to a regular agent. After explaining I needed to speak to Customer Relations and why, I was put on hold for ten minutes before being informed I needed to be transferred to Customer Relations. After being on hold for a half-hour (there’s no option to request a callback), I reached a CR agent. It took a while to make her understand that all I was asking was for a status update, but she was able to confirm that a case was opened on 7/6 and gave me the case number. She could help me no further, because it’s at the level of corporate Customer Relations, and she’s not empowered to authorize refunds for anything but what’s spent directly with Amtrak. I asked for a number for corporate Customer Relations, and was told they only communicate via email. She advised me not to bother trying to call back, as there was nothing they could do at her level. She suggested I send them an email to ask about the status, which seemed fruitless to me since I was asking why I hadn’t received a response to the first email, but I sent it 7/12, referencing the case number. Another automated response, nothing since.

Any suggestions on how I can resolve this? Wait patiently? Contact my local TV station’s consumer watchdog? Try to contact Stephen Gardner?
In my limited experience, once a case has been opened and a number assigned, Customer Relations will eventually get back to you via email. I once tried to reach by telephone a CR agent with whom I had been communicating by email and was unable to do so. I was never informed that there is a difference between "corporate" Customer Relations and "Customer Relations."

I would wait patiently.
 
I get pretty good responses when I carefully compose a point by point letter (no histrionics), edit it to cut it to one page and send it to the President of Amtrak. Attach copies of receipts in sequence. And suggest the remedy you think is reasonable. Send it to the President at the corporate office. Include your e-mail and a good phone number where someone can reach you. Fall back and see what happens. Keep a copy. Maybe send one to your congressman..or the Sec. of Transp. We are citizens and we support this service.
 
I get pretty good responses when I carefully compose a point by point letter (no histrionics), edit it to cut it to one page and send it to the President of Amtrak. Attach copies of receipts in sequence. And suggest the remedy you think is reasonable. Send it to the President at the corporate office. Include your e-mail and a good phone number where someone can reach you. Fall back and see what happens. Keep a copy. Maybe send one to your congressman..or the Sec. of Transp. We are citizens and we support this service.
Thanks, but I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that. As pennyk suggested, I’ll likely have a response in due course, but of course I don’t want to wait forever. I’ve worked in customer service, and I know sometimes the wheels can grind exceedingly slow. It would have been nice to simply get an email with a case number and an assurance that they’re working on it.

Unless anyone has a better option, I think I’ll send a followup email weekly, and if no answer in a month, it’s time for a letter.
 
Thanks, but I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that. As pennyk suggested, I’ll likely have a response in due course, but of course I don’t want to wait forever. I’ve worked in customer service, and I know sometimes the wheels can grind exceedingly slow. It would have been nice to simply get an email with a case number and an assurance that they’re working on it.

Unless anyone has a better option, I think I’ll send a followup email weekly, and if no answer in a month, it’s time for a letter.
For anyone interested, I received my reimbursement check today. Sent five emails, received one response asking for my mailing address but no verification that my claim was approved.
 
On our recent R/T Austin to LAX the westbound Eagle family room #15's single electrical outlet was dead, as was the room's loudspeaker. We reported this in the San Antonio layover but the maintenance crew said it would be taken care of in Los Angeles.

When we reached our San Luis Obispo destination I reported this by phone to Customer Relations - relatively short wait - she opened a file and said to report it again when we returned to Austin, noting that might NOT be our last complaint!:rolleyes:

On the eastbound Eagle, there was no water pressure - at sinks, toilets, showers, or coffee stations - on the second day of the trip.

The eastbound Eagle was also delayed out of LAX 4 hours, but that was not a hardship for us.

Back home, we reported all by phone to Customer Relations [about 10 minutes on wait and a call back from CR about half an hour later]. She had our file # from the earlier call.

She gave us a $500 voucher.

I told her we had a great coach attendant on the westbound train, D'Andre, who gave us personal notice at our door of everything we did not hear with our loudspeaker disabled. She took note of our compliment and reminded me to use the voucher within one year.
 
I would like to report my own service disruption-reimbursement experience.

I was on the California Zephyr line westbound; it was supposed to end at Emeryville CA at 4:10pm followed by an Amtrak bus to San Francisco between 4:25pm-5:00pm. Then I had to get to SFO airport by around 8:30pm to catch a flight.

The train ended up arriving three hours late at 7pm, and the available bus was full. The staff announced that another bus would be arriving at 8pm, which would cause me to miss the flight.

The staff refunded the $6.50 bus fare, advised me to take a taxi/uber from Emeryville to SFO airport to not miss the flight, and instructed me to call Customer Relations to get the taxi/uber reimbursed (they provided a card with the number).

I called on Oct 16 2023 the morning after the event, and was told that the higher-ups with the power to authorize a reimbursement only take emails. The staff member I called gave me a specific case number and an email address, and told me to send an email with that specific case number and all relevant details (uber receipt, Amtrak reservation number, timestamps, etc.).

I sent out the email at noon (Oct 16) and, like others in this thread, was given an automatic reply with "Correspondence is answered in the order they are received."

At some point afterward I got a bit impatient and searched around to come across this forum and this thread, which basically advised me to just wait.

One week later (Oct 23), I received a reply saying that my reimbursement was authorized and that a check would be mailed out. I was asked to provide my mailing address. I replied that afternoon.

Ten days later (Nov 2), I received an email saying that the check had been mailed out and would be expected to arrive "within a few weeks".

Yesterday, I checked my mailbox and the check was there. The date on the check was Nov 7. I didn't check my mailbox every day though (it probably arrived earlier than yesterday).
 
I would like to report my own service disruption-reimbursement experience.

I was on the California Zephyr line westbound; it was supposed to end at Emeryville CA at 4:10pm followed by an Amtrak bus to San Francisco between 4:25pm-5:00pm. Then I had to get to SFO airport by around 8:30pm to catch a flight.

The train ended up arriving three hours late at 7pm, and the available bus was full. The staff announced that another bus would be arriving at 8pm, which would cause me to miss the flight.

The staff refunded the $6.50 bus fare, advised me to take a taxi/uber from Emeryville to SFO airport to not miss the flight, and instructed me to call Customer Relations to get the taxi/uber reimbursed (they provided a card with the number).

I called on Oct 16 2023 the morning after the event, and was told that the higher-ups with the power to authorize a reimbursement only take emails. The staff member I called gave me a specific case number and an email address, and told me to send an email with that specific case number and all relevant details (uber receipt, Amtrak reservation number, timestamps, etc.).

I sent out the email at noon (Oct 16) and, like others in this thread, was given an automatic reply with "Correspondence is answered in the order they are received."

At some point afterward I got a bit impatient and searched around to come across this forum and this thread, which basically advised me to just wait.

One week later (Oct 23), I received a reply saying that my reimbursement was authorized and that a check would be mailed out. I was asked to provide my mailing address. I replied that afternoon.

Ten days later (Nov 2), I received an email saying that the check had been mailed out and would be expected to arrive "within a few weeks".

Yesterday, I checked my mailbox and the check was there. The date on the check was Nov 7. I didn't check my mailbox every day though (it probably arrived earlier than yesterday).
Thanks for posting this! I'm pleasantly surprised with the level of customer service that you received. Not only were able to make your flight you were ALSO able to get re-inbursed for the Uber ride! One month between contacting them and getting reimbursed is not bad either, for Amtrak standards at least lol. Also, you did the right thing by calling first, thus having a case number when you emailed them probably also sped up the process a little bit.
 
Has anyone ever attempted to come up with a “reimbursement schedule” (either a cash refund amount or a credit-voucher-good-for-future-travel amount) which Amtrak Customer Relations typically uses for various inconveniences caused to passengers? For example, last summer, our bedroom on SWC No. 4 from LA to Chicago was missing the chair. For this inconvenience, Customers Relations reimbursed us with a credit voucher in the amount of $500. Last year, when a shortage of roadworthy sleepers resulted in Amtrak not being able to honor the bedroom reservations that we had made and paid for 6 months earlier, we received a $300 credit voucher. Those who have received refunds or credit vouchers for other inconveniences can undoubtedly provide additional examples: sleepers where the toilets were not working, the heating or air conditioning systems were not working, etc. Collected together, this information could be used to prepare a schedule indicating approximately what compensation to expect for a given inconvenience.
 
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Has anyone ever attempted to come up with a “reimbursement schedule” (either a cash refund amount or a credit-voucher-good-for-future-travel amount) which Amtrak Customer Relations typically uses for various inconveniences caused to passengers? For example, last summer, our bedroom on SWC No. 4 from LA to Chicago was missing the chair. For this inconvenience, Customers Relations reimbursed us with a credit voucher in the amount of $500. Last year, when a shortage of roadworthy sleepers resulted in Amtrak not being able to honor the bedroom reservations that we had made and paid for 6 months earlier, we received a $300 credit voucher. Those who have received refunds or credit vouchers for other inconveniences can undoubtedly provide additional examples: sleepers where the toilets were not working, the heating or air conditioning systems were not working, etc. Collected together, this information could be used to prepare a schedule indicating approximately what compensation to expect for a given inconvenience.
We received a $400 voucher for a malfunctioning toilet in our bedroom.

As you did, we received a $500 voucher for a missing chair in a bedroom on the SSL in April. Maybe was the same bedroom in the same car. We can't be the only two travelers to encounter this issue.
I wonder how many $500 vouchers they have to hand out before somebody realizes they can probably get a chair from a damaged sleeper stored in Beech Grove and the problem goes away. Or is it ever even reported to maintenance? Does maintenance care? And, is it just too costly to pull the car out of service? What a way to run a railroad!!!
 
Not all passengers who are inconvenienced in some way know enough to contact Amtrak to request a refund or a credit voucher but instead decide to never travel via Amtrak again. (A different thread discusses these “never againers.”) When you consider all of the $300-$500 credit vouchers that are handed out plus the hotel rooms, food vouchers, etc. that are provided to passengers with missed guaranteed connections, a considerable portion of Amtrak’s operating costs are going towards placating inconvenienced passengers.
 
My experience with emailing Amtrak was that it just wastes time so I would simply call instead. Calmly and succinctly explain how the lack of AC negatively impacted your comfort and how the experience was detrimental to your enjoyment of the trip. Usually I would expect them to offer a good will voucher toward future travel. Amounts and expiry will vary depending on the situation and refunds are rare unless your trip was cancelled or you were left stranded.
I had similar experiences and called with details but no vouchers were offered.
 
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