Complaint letter to AMTRAK not responded to

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Dr Obi

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Good Afternoon Forum

I had a major complaint with Amtrak a couple of months ago when I was taking my family to New York to see the final show of a Broadway production which was also sold out

The train I was, on broke down and it took almost 2 hours 45 minutes delay to get the train fixed at PHL after spending a lot of time on the track with non-functional toilets.

We missed the show, 4 tickets at about $135 each.

We were offerred a credit for only the North Bound Journey when I called the 800- number

I stated I did not want a credit but a full refund of what I paid AMTRAK. The customer service rep was nonchalent and told me to write to Mr John Wojciechowski, Director of Customer Relations if I was not satisfied with thir offer which we refused

We have written Mr Wojciechowski, with USPS confirmation that he received the letter.

He has neither called or responded, and I am at a loss to know how to proceed next

Does anybody have any ideas?

Thank You

Dr Obi
 

the_traveler

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As you may or may not know, AU is in no way affiliated with Amtrak, so we can not directly intervene. We can only suggest what to do.

Your contract with Amtrak was to get you from Point A to Point B (which they did), and you say that they only offered you a credit (which you declined) for the northbound trip?
Not to sound insensitive, but why would the have offered anything for the southbound trip?
Nothing (that you stated) happened on the southbound trip!

I don't know what the amount was (and I don't really want to know), but remember a voucher is worth 100%. A cash (or credit card) refund is only worth 90% of the value. I personally would take the voucher!

As for the show tickets value, if you were driving you car to a venue (even locally) and missed the show due to traffic, would you want the state DOT to pay you for your tickets?
In this case, you could have taken a train the day before.

Once again, I'm not trying to be insensitive!
 

benjibear

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Where was your origination? So the train broke down somewhere south of Philly. You sat for a long time (without a functioning toilet) south of Philly until somehow you got to Philly where you had to sit for 2 hour and 45 minutes in Philly. Where was the train while it was getting repaired (platform in Philly)? Where were you while the train was getting fixed in Philly? Did you have access in the station? What train were you on? Did you say anything to any Amtrak staff while you were waiting? Did you do anything in New York or just turn around and come home? If you just came right home, why did you go as far as New York?

What I am getting at with my questioning is could you have gotten off the train at Philly and A.) take another train to New York or B.) Just return home because you knew you would miss the show? These are the questions probably going through Amtrak's thought process on why you won't get any refund for the southbound trip. If once you knew you were not going to get to New York in time, I would have said something then to the Amtrak conductor and tell him or her that you want to get off at the next station and return since you have no reason to continue.

As far as the show tickets, those are always non refundable. My wife and I had show tickets for a month ago and we got sick and we couldn't go. A few hundred bucks down the toilet. As the traveler said, you could have gotten in traffic, a flat tire, or you could have caused an accident. That is the nature of buying show tickets.

I could understand you wanting a refund for both the north and southbound trips. I am just wondering what you did to make the situation better. Maybe you should have taken an earlier train.
 
G

Guest

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I think there's probably at least a 90 day lag in responding to such inquiries. At least that is how long it took for a response to a letter I sent last year.

I wouldn't do anything further at this point.
 

sunchaser

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Good Afternoon Forum

I had a major complaint with Amtrak a couple of months ago when I was taking my family to New York to see the final show of a Broadway production which was also sold out

The train I was, on broke down and it took almost 2 hours 45 minutes delay to get the train fixed at PHL after spending a lot of time on the track with non-functional toilets.

We missed the show, 4 tickets at about $135 each.

We were offered a credit for only the North Bound Journey when I called the 800- number

I stated I did not want a credit but a full refund of what I paid AMTRAK. The customer service rep was nonchalant and told me to write to Mr John Wojciechowski, Director of Customer Relations if I was not satisfied with thir offer which we refused

We have written Mr Wojciechowski, with USPS confirmation that he received the letter.

He has neither called or responded, and I am at a loss to know how to proceed next

Does anybody have any ideas?

Thank You

Dr Obi
Welcome to the forum!! I'm sorry to hear you missed out on your show.

From what I understand, Amtrak has a narrow qualification for refunds, that can be found here.

I would call Amtrak Customer Service again and accept a voucher, unless you do not plan on taking Amtrak again.

I personally would not expect a transportation company to cover the cost of tickets of a function I missed because of lateness. It is usually something out of the control of the company.

On our first train trip, there was some issues with our sleeper car. I first sent an email, but they were so backed up, they didn't respond, so I called.

I spoke to a very nice lady who sent us a voucher, which we did use a few months later. I did not expect money. Most companies will give you gift certificates or vouchers when there is a problem, unless it is a really bad one, like an accident. I hope you try Amtrak again!
 

A.J.

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everyone has already given you excellent and fair advice. i will say that these are the risks you run anytime you travel. frankly, it's your responsibility as a traveler to take those things into consideration. i travel to nyc for shows as well and I never go the same day unless i have a fairly large chunk of time as a buffer. you can't always be prepared for unexpected troubles, but you also can't expect the world to give you something you don't deserve. in my opinion, you don't deserve to have your return journey refunded, as there was nothing wrong with your return journey.
 

the_traveler

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To further expand on the topic, in my younger (foolish) days when I flew all the time
, I once had a flight from Chicago to Providence. (This was in the "old days" when they actually served meals for free!)

I had dinner, drinks, saw a full movie and 1/2 of another movie (on the cabin screen). This was all BEFORE we left the ground! There was VERY SEVERE WEATHER along the way! Should I expected XYZ Airline to refund my fare for both ways from PVD-LAS and back?
I'm just thankful they delayed the flight and I arrived home safely!
 

Trogdor

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Many airlines have trip-in-vain policies that allow for refunds in the event that a severe delay causes you to choose to return home immediately rather than proceeding to your destination.
 

Cho Cho Charlie

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I think there's probably at least a 90 day lag in responding to such inquiries. At least that is how long it took for a response to a letter I sent last year.
Its been several years since I had a complaint, but after waiting that long, the reply I finally got, was simply asking me to call them to discuss.

With complaints, I don't like talking on the phone since I like to show them my evidence or proof. Such is usually an attachment, either to a letter or to an email.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Good Afternoon Forum I had a major complaint with Amtrak a couple of months ago when I was taking my family to New York to see the final show of a Broadway production which was also sold out The train I was, on broke down and it took almost 2 hours 45 minutes delay to get the train fixed at PHL after spending a lot of time on the track with non-functional toilets. We missed the show, 4 tickets at about $135 each. We were offerred a credit for only the North Bound Journey when I called the 800- number I stated I did not want a credit but a full refund of what I paid AMTRAK. The customer service rep was nonchalent and told me to write to Mr John Wojciechowski, Director of Customer Relations if I was not satisfied with thir offer which we refused We have written Mr Wojciechowski, with USPS confirmation that he received the letter. He has neither called or responded, and I am at a loss to know how to proceed next

Does anybody have any ideas?

Thank You

Dr Obi
Sorry to hear you missed out on your Broadway show and permanently lost $540 worth of tickets. Unfortunately I would not expect Amtrak to respond to your letter or to refund any of your money. They may give you more credit toward a future trip if you make another phone call, but that's probably it. In the future I would strongly suggest you consider driving or flying when time is of the essence as there are usually more secondary options available to you in those situations.
 

me_little_me

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Good Afternoon Forum

I had a major complaint with Amtrak a couple of months ago when I was taking my family to New York to see the final show of a Broadway production which was also sold out

The train I was, on broke down and it took almost 2 hours 45 minutes delay to get the train fixed at PHL after spending a lot of time on the track with non-functional toilets.

We missed the show, 4 tickets at about $135 each.

We were offered a credit for only the North Bound Journey when I called the 800- number

I stated I did not want a credit but a full refund of what I paid AMTRAK. The customer service rep was nonchalant and told me to write to Mr John Wojciechowski, Director of Customer Relations if I was not satisfied with thir offer which we refused

We have written Mr Wojciechowski, with USPS confirmation that he received the letter.

He has neither called or responded, and I am at a loss to know how to proceed next

Does anybody have any ideas?

Thank You

Dr Obi
Welcome to the forum!! I'm sorry to hear you missed out on your show.

From what I understand, Amtrak has a narrow qualification for refunds, that can be found here.

I would call Amtrak Customer Service again and accept a voucher, unless you do not plan on taking Amtrak again.

I personally would not expect a transportation company to cover the cost of tickets of a function I missed because of lateness. It is usually something out of the control of the company.

On our first train trip, there was some issues with our sleeper car. I first sent an email, but they were so backed up, they didn't respond, so I called.

I spoke to a very nice lady who sent us a voucher, which we did use a few months later. I did not expect money. Most companies will give you gift certificates or vouchers when there is a problem, unless it is a really bad one, like an accident. I hope you try Amtrak again!
I think you need to reread OP's issue. I highlighted the appropriate sentences.

It is not, in my mind, unreasonable for them to ask for and expect Amtrak to offer in this case, a full refund of the tickets since they took a train early enough to see the play and they are NOT ASKING FOR THE MONEY FOR THE TICKETS as far as I can see from what was stated. The train trip without being able to see the play would likely not have been taken so Amtrak should be nice enough in this case to refund the whole ticket price. Hopefully, the letter will eventually get them a more agreeable compensation.

When the whole purpose of your trip is ruined because the transportation company failed to come through, a nice transportation company would and should take that into consideration. Amtrak hopefully will be nice.
 
G

guest

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If the passenger was carried between the origin and destination points, and accepted such carriage, then Amtrak has legally fulfilled its part of the contract, even when the train is delayed. They issue credits for delays and such in the interest of "service recovery". Just like airlines, it behooves the passenger to be familiar with the conditions of carriage, which are partially printed on tickets, but usually available in full somewhere such as in stations or online.
 

yarrow

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As for the show tickets value, if you were driving you car to a venue (even locally) and missed the show due to traffic, would you want the state DOT to pay you for your tickets?
In this case, you could have taken a train the day before.

Once again, I'm not trying to be insensitive!
no where did the op suggest amtrak should pay for his theater tickets. so why make it sound like he was. he was just bemoaning the fact of the expense and the ruined family outing. i would guess he is a fairly new amtrak rider. amtrak is obligated(usually) to get you from point a to point b with some recompense of your fare, as was offered, if things go wrong. my question is,from a customer relations standpoint, why amtrak wouldn't refund the fare for an evidently ruined trip. we were around three hours late on the candaian into toronto earlier this month. anyone with a problem or connection was told to go to the customer service window. i was hanging around taking pictures of the station and several fellow riders who had issues came up and told me how speedily and well they were settled. via and amtrak, both government run enterprises. i commented to yarrow as we were coming into the station that, on amtrak, passengers and employees would be snarly by this time. not on via. as a matter of fact, i heard on man comment to his wife, "don't worry, via will take care of us". i guess i try to look at things from a traveling family's point of view and not the view of amtrak managment
 

Ryan

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Good Afternoon Forum I had a major complaint with Amtrak a couple of months ago when I was taking my family to New York to see the final show of a Broadway production which was also sold out The train I was, on broke down and it took almost 2 hours 45 minutes delay to get the train fixed at PHL after spending a lot of time on the track with non-functional toilets. We missed the show, 4 tickets at about $135 each. We were offerred a credit for only the North Bound Journey when I called the 800- number I stated I did not want a credit but a full refund of what I paid AMTRAK. The customer service rep was nonchalent and told me to write to Mr John Wojciechowski, Director of Customer Relations if I was not satisfied with thir offer which we refused We have written Mr Wojciechowski, with USPS confirmation that he received the letter. He has neither called or responded, and I am at a loss to know how to proceed next

Does anybody have any ideas?

Thank You

Dr Obi
Sorry to hear you missed out on your Broadway show and permanently lost $540 worth of tickets. Unfortunately I would not expect Amtrak to respond to your letter or to refund any of your money. They may give you more credit toward a future trip if you make another phone call, but that's probably it. In the future I would strongly suggest you consider driving or flying when time is of the essence as there are usually more secondary options available to you in those situations.
Or just take an earlier train next time.

Planning to arrive at NYP less than 3 hours before your show starts is a poor plan indeed.
 

benjibear

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I don't have all the facts to make a decision if he derserves a refund on the return trip. I would like to know more about where it occured, where was he while the train was being repaired in Philly, and did he let anyone at Amtrak know before he sends them a letter?

If I was on a train, needed to get somewhere by a certain time, and started to see I was being delayed, I would have said something to the conductor. If he would have said something maybe they could have gotten him on an earlier train or he could have just went home at that point. How many trains go between PHL and NYP in a 2H 45M time during that time of the day? Maybe the conductor would do nothing but maybe if he said something, he would have done something.
 

jebr

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Good Afternoon Forum I had a major complaint with Amtrak a couple of months ago when I was taking my family to New York to see the final show of a Broadway production which was also sold out The train I was, on broke down and it took almost 2 hours 45 minutes delay to get the train fixed at PHL after spending a lot of time on the track with non-functional toilets. We missed the show, 4 tickets at about $135 each. We were offerred a credit for only the North Bound Journey when I called the 800- number I stated I did not want a credit but a full refund of what I paid AMTRAK. The customer service rep was nonchalent and told me to write to Mr John Wojciechowski, Director of Customer Relations if I was not satisfied with thir offer which we refused We have written Mr Wojciechowski, with USPS confirmation that he received the letter. He has neither called or responded, and I am at a loss to know how to proceed next

Does anybody have any ideas?

Thank You

Dr Obi
Sorry to hear you missed out on your Broadway show and permanently lost $540 worth of tickets. Unfortunately I would not expect Amtrak to respond to your letter or to refund any of your money. They may give you more credit toward a future trip if you make another phone call, but that's probably it. In the future I would strongly suggest you consider driving or flying when time is of the essence as there are usually more secondary options available to you in those situations.
Or just take an earlier train next time.

Planning to arrive at NYP less than 3 hours before your show starts is a poor plan indeed.
Why is that a poor plan? Say the show is 15 minutes away from NYP (not unreasonable, considering it's a 6 minute subway ride from NYP) and you arrive so that you're there 45 minutes early (which is adequate for will call tickets, and a bit more than needed if you already have the tickets). Thinking that there won't be a major delay (which, on the NEC, is a reasonable assumption), s/he schedules a ticket to arrive two hours early, which allows for a comfortable hour cushion in case of minor delays (or to be put on another train if there's a major delay.)

There are numerous reasons why someone wouldn't schedule three or more hours of buffer period. Two hours to kill is a fair amount, especially if there's not a huge budget (since the tickets were a lot of money, there may not be much money left). Only one hour is much easier, whether waiting in line, grabbing a bite to eat at a fast food joint, or something similar, and an hour goes by relatively easily. Maybe s/he doesn't want to take a full day off of work, so s/he schedules the train so that s/he can leave at lunchtime (and only take a half-day).

Yes, ideally, someone would have a huge buffer. But to say that it's foolish to not leave a two hour buffer is a bad attitude to have, and one that I wouldn't want Amtrak (or any transportation company) to have, especially on a commuter service that many people need on-time reliability for. While there is some information missing, at minimum I would expect Amtrak to fully refund (in cash) the northbound trip, and more than likely give a voucher for the southbound trip (to give him an incentive to try Amtrak again.) Heck, I wouldn't find it unreasonable to offer a full refund, but I would still offer the voucher so that s/he can see Amtrak again (and hopefully in a better light.)
 

yarrow

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I don't have all the facts to make a decision if he derserves a refund on the return trip. I would like to know more about where it occured, where was he while the train was being repaired in Philly, and did he let anyone at Amtrak know before he sends them a letter?

If I was on a train, needed to get somewhere by a certain time, and started to see I was being delayed, I would have said something to the conductor. If he would have said something maybe they could have gotten him on an earlier train or he could have just went home at that point. How many trains go between PHL and NYP in a 2H 45M time during that time of the day? Maybe the conductor would do nothing but maybe if he said something, he would have done something.
i agree that you or i, as experienced amtrak riders, would have talked to a conductor. we would have booked a longer window between train and performance. i don't think the op falls into that category. i can think of amtrak trip disasters in my past which i would handle differently today. i remember the first time on this board i learned the wisdom of booking an extra day between some connections. the novice rider isn't going to know that. we recently went from spokane to vancouver, bc to ride the canadian. i booked an extra day in seattle in case the eb was late. i assume the op is going to swear "never again" and let his friends know. i suppose amtrak doesn't "need" him or any of us(except at subsidy time). i just feel sorry for a ruined family trip and for amtrak's often typical "customer relations"
 

Ryan

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Why is that a poor plan?
That's pretty obvious from the OP. Sometimes trains are late.

But to say that it's foolish to not leave a two hour buffer is a bad attitude to have, and one that I wouldn't want Amtrak (or any transportation company) to have, especially on a commuter service that many people need on-time reliability for. While there is some information missing, at minimum I would expect Amtrak to fully refund (in cash) the northbound trip, and more than likely give a voucher for the southbound trip (to give him an incentive to try Amtrak again.) Heck, I wouldn't find it unreasonable to offer a full refund, but I would still offer the voucher so that s/he can see Amtrak again (and hopefully in a better light.)
It all depends on what you need to be there for. A few hundred dollars in theater tickets? I want to make damn sure that I'm there on time, be it driving, flying or taking the train and would plan my trip accordingly. I realize that such delays are rare, but the do happen.

He paid Amtrak to get from somewhere to NYP and back. Amtrak took him from wherever to NYP and back. Contract satisfied. I would neither ask for nor expect to see a dime back.
 

AlanB

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Why is that a poor plan?
That's pretty obvious from the OP. Sometimes trains are late.
And sometimes one has no choice in the matter either and must live with the "plan" as it were, not saying that this is what happened to the OP, but things can happen or schedules might not permit a greater cushion. Case in point, my Mom & I decided to taken in a show by Bill Cosby in the Kennedy Center next weekend. He was doing two shows, 7 & 9:30 PM, so we picked the later time and setup hotel & Amtrak accordingly.

This past Thursday an email arrives stating that they're cancelling the 9:30 PM show. Options are refund or exchange for the 7PM show. So not wanting to lose the trip entirely, we accept tickets to the 7PM show.

Now the problem is it will cost at least $100 more to change our Amtrak train to a better arrival. So we left with arriving at 5:52 for a 7PM show. I did cancel the original hotel out in Arlington, that aforementioned HGI in another topic at the Court House stop, and managed to land the Marriott right at Metro Center for only $13 more than what we would have paid at the HGI.

But it's the only way that I can see us getting off Amtrak, getting to a hotel to drop off luggage, and still make the show. No way we were going to get out to Arlington & back in time, so now I lose 1,000 AGR points. :( And of course if Amtrak isn't on time, then we lose!
 

jebr

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Why is that a poor plan?
That's pretty obvious from the OP. Sometimes trains are late.

But to say that it's foolish to not leave a two hour buffer is a bad attitude to have, and one that I wouldn't want Amtrak (or any transportation company) to have, especially on a commuter service that many people need on-time reliability for. While there is some information missing, at minimum I would expect Amtrak to fully refund (in cash) the northbound trip, and more than likely give a voucher for the southbound trip (to give him an incentive to try Amtrak again.) Heck, I wouldn't find it unreasonable to offer a full refund, but I would still offer the voucher so that s/he can see Amtrak again (and hopefully in a better light.)
It all depends on what you need to be there for. A few hundred dollars in theater tickets? I want to make damn sure that I'm there on time, be it driving, flying or taking the train and would plan my trip accordingly. I realize that such delays are rare, but the do happen.

He paid Amtrak to get from somewhere to NYP and back. Amtrak took him from wherever to NYP and back. Contract satisfied. I would neither ask for nor expect to see a dime back.
In the NEC, there's a lot of people traveling that missing their destination by that much would be a huge negative impact. A 2 hour and 45 minute delay should never be considered unimportant (or even just a voucher for future travel.) If I miss a meeting because of a delay, that could be a huge loss to my company (at minimum, they'd be paying me for almost three hours while getting zero benefit.) If I'm three hours late for work, my supervisor would not be happy, and there's little to no way that I'd be paid for that time (which, if I'm making $25/hr, is $75 I've just lost.) I'm not just paying for Amtrak to get me from point A to point B, I'm expecting (whether officially recognized or not) them to get me there at the time they say they will. If not, why would I pay any premium to travel with them? I'd be better off taking the Megabus or a Chinatown bus.

For a second here, I'm going to assume complete rationality. I'm paying $540 for tickets. If the train is at least an hour and a half late (assuming that's the amount of buffer s/he has before the tickets get resold) but less than three hours late (what you're proposing) 1% of the time, I'd be better off working that hour (assuming he'd be taking that hour off of work to get there early), as 1% of $540 is $5.40 (less than minimum wage). Even if I wasn't working, I may find that hour at home (or outside of NYC) to be worth more than $5.40 to my family.

That doesn't excuse Amtrak, but if you're looking at statistics, it's probably not worth leaving that much earlier on the NEC. Even if it was 2% or 3%, assuming I'm making a semi-reasonable wage I'd be better off working for that extra hour to hour and a half.

Furthermore, where do we make that cutoff? Why not say arrive 4 hours early? What about 6? 12? 24? Saying that the magic number is 3 hours is fairly arbitrary (granted, 2 hours is also fairly arbitrary, but it would appear, at least to the average traveler, to be a reasonable amount of time. At least on airlines, a two hour and 45 minute delay is a major delay (even a two hour delay on a nonstop flight would be a major delay), and if Amtrak is competing against them, it should be held to the same standards.)

I wouldn't be making that risk myself (as rationality wouldn't be my first concern), but I don't blame the OP for assuming a certain amount of buffer period less than 2 hours and 45 minutes. However, additional information is needed to fully understand what exactly transpired.
 

Ryan

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Why is that a poor plan?
That's pretty obvious from the OP. Sometimes trains are late.
And sometimes one has no choice in the matter either and must live with the "plan" as it were, not saying that this is what happened to the OP, but things can happen or schedules might not permit a greater cushion. Case in point, my Mom & I decided to taken in a show by Bill Cosby in the Kennedy Center next weekend. He was doing two shows, 7 & 9:30 PM, so we picked the later time and setup hotel & Amtrak accordingly.
Completely understood, and you're going into it fully aware of the likelihood and consequences of a late train.

Furthermore, where do we make that cutoff? Why not say arrive 4 hours early?
That all depends on the risk tolerance and the relative importance of the event. If you want to make certain that you make it, I'd leave far more than 3 hours buffer. If I accept the risk and go for a smaller buffer, I go into that with open eyes, prepared to deal with the consequences.
 

jebr

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Ryan:

My point is this: Amtrak's responsibility is more than transporting someone from point A to point B. As an extreme example, I doubt too many people would be pleased with Amtrak advertising train travel and them placing people on a pedicab service as a substitution for a distance of longer than a couple miles, or having a timetable based on a maximum of 125mph and then traveling at 10mph the entire distance. People expect Amtrak to get them not only where they want to go, but also at close to the advertised time. While delays do happen, Amtrak needs to make sure to make them as painless as possible.

While I'm sure there's some facts missing here (he may have not went up to a conductor and stated that he needs to be somewhere, or he may have booked a train that arrived 20 minutes before the show started), stating that Amtrak's only responsibility is to get people from point A to point B is going too far in the other direction.

This is especially true if I need to be somewhere at a certain time or have something scheduled. It's also partially proportional to distance. For example, if I'm traveling on a city bus or train (even a commuter train), I expect to get there essentially on-time, forbidding outside forces that they can't control (such as weather). My impression is that people on the NEC expect Amtrak to also be like this, which is mostly fair for shorter distances. On a longer distance, I would hope people would account for a 15-30 minute delay along longer distances (say, NYP - WAS) without complaint or trouble. Furthermore, on a long distance train (such as my trip this summer to visit my girlfriend), I basically expect Amtrak to get me there and, if there's chronic delays, make sure that I am fed for any meals that happen outside of the confines of the scheduled route (since I can eat much cheaper either at home or at my destination than I can while on a train). For example, since my train is scheduled to arrive in SLC at 11:05 PM on day 2, I would expect them to provide breakfast if I'm on the train much later than 9:00 AM on day 3, since I didn't plan for having that meal on the train. Outside of that, I probably wouldn't complain much, but my arrival isn't time-sensitive (within reason, of course; a full day or two delay would be much harder to stomach.)

Basically, while there's too many facts missing to fully understand/judge the OP's situation (assuming s/he gave himself my assumed buffer of two hours before the show, even a two hour and 45 minute delay would still allow him/her to see part of the show), stating that Amtrak has little to no on-time responsibility is also false.
 
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