Rude Amtrak employees

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Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
1,852
Location
Denver
If it was not for the existence of Powell's Books a modest walk away, I could easily spend most of the day at the Portland lounge. It is a remarkably pleasant place and I enjoy its closeness to the tracks.
My dad remembers when the SP Red Electric ran on Track One. Next time you look out those windows imagine a train to Corvallis via McMinnville or a suburban train to Lake Oswego.
 

jpakala

Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 13, 2014
Messages
136
Amtrak even decades ago seemed to take any live body. I remember on the Broadway Ltd from Phila to Chicago having the very young "off the street" coach porter turn on the bright flourescent lights in our coach at shortly after 6:00 a.m. My sister groaned: "I can't believe he did that." When I accosted him he said "Them's the rules!" His statement was not true, according to an Amtrak employee after our trip. I've had some drill sergeant types who were honest, mentally capable, even earnest but they did not understand that acting according to their backgrounds is inappropriate. Apparently Amtrak failed to train them adequately on "soft skills" and so on. Flight attendants bring better understanding to the job or get much better training (or both). Brightlight exceeds the airlines.
 

Charles785

Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
129
Regarding Amtrak employees with less-than-desired customer service skills, here are some comments from earlier this month that I came across on another online forum that might be of interest:

. . . . as we leave New Mexico this evening I have to say how disappointed I am in this trip.
We planned this trip for months. Brought my son and grandson for their first long distance train trip. So excited to introduce them to our favorite mode of travel.

The one thing I was sure of was the dining car. It has gone from bad to horrible on this trip.

The two dining car attendants are unbelievable! Not low energy, negative energy. Everything seems to be such a bother to them. Never introduced themselves like every other long distance train we have been on.

You know how the attendant always asks people to wait at the door to be seated? We were told "go sit down somewhere if you want dinner!" This is after we have tipped well for each meal.

The woman (older) is limping like she's in agony all of a sudden tonight. But honestly, for the past 24 hours she has slowed in serving so much it is almost comical.

She took our order tonight and returned to the table with our drinks in the cardboard drink carrier like you get in the cafe then just sat the carrier on our table and walked away.

Then when the appetizers arrived she just sat the entire serving tray on the table and walked away! We had to sort it out for ourselves.
Doesn't the lobster cake look delish? Ice cold. Refrigerator cold!

The entrees arrived in the same manner. Brown plastic serving tray plopped down on the table and she walked away!
Tortellini look good? Ice cold. Not room temperature. Ice cold!

We didn't even bother with dessert.

If I were a first time rider after spending a ton of money on this trip there's no way I would ever do another!

Not a one off.

Sausages this morning were refrigerator cold. French toast hard and dried up too.

What is going on? Are they purposely trying to discourage ridership? If not, they are certainly doing just that.

The sleeping cars are just about full, but the dining car has been not even half full ( one one side) at any meal.
 
Joined
Oct 6, 2021
Messages
66
Location
California
Sitting on the Coast Starlight as I type this.. I've expressed before that it seems the younger crews *trend* towards being friendly and engaging, and the older ones are dismissive and lazy. That, at least, has nearly consistently been my experience.

Today, waiting at Santa Barbara for the Coast Startlight (Southbound/11) to arrive. Booked into business.

Happened to be waiting on the platform at about the right spot for the Biz class car, so I was one of the first half-dozen or so in line.

A very kind looking, and very elderly, couple were in front of me, and first in line. They had a paper ticket, which was scanned, and the husand began to help his wife aboard.

The guy scanning tickets (older crew) *snapped* at them, actually shouting "Stand over there and wait, you don't go anywhere til I tell you where to sit".

I thought that poor elderly lady was going to cry.

I'm travelling with two friends - three of us on one reservation. Our ticket was scanned, and we joined the "wait for a seat" line.

The business class car is maybe 40% full. We were assigned two windows and an aisle. I thought "oh, that's nice, he deliberately leaving an aisle seat open (four seats for three people in a car less than half full).

Nope... this guy went out of his way (again, less than half full car) to fill in the empty seat in the row he had just given us, dividing our party for no reason I can possibly fathom.

Fortunately, the person put in that seat understood, and simply moved to one of the many open rows once underway.
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
24,375
Location
Austin Texas
Sitting on the Coast Starlight as I type this.. I've expressed before that it seems the younger crews *trend* towards being friendly and engaging, and the older ones are dismissive and lazy. That, at least, has nearly consistently been my experience.

Today, waiting at Santa Barbara for the Coast Startlight (Southbound/11) to arrive. Booked into business.

Happened to be waiting on the platform at about the right spot for the Biz class car, so I was one of the first half-dozen or so in line.

A very kind looking, and very elderly, couple were in front of me, and first in line. They had a paper ticket, which was scanned, and the husand began to help his wife aboard.

The guy scanning tickets (older crew) *snapped* at them, actually shouting "Stand over there and wait, you don't go anywhere til I tell you where to sit".

I thought that poor elderly lady was going to cry.

I'm travelling with two friends - three of us on one reservation. Our ticket was scanned, and we joined the "wait for a seat" line.

The business class car is maybe 40% full. We were assigned two windows and an aisle. I thought "oh, that's nice, he deliberately leaving an aisle seat open (four seats for three people in a car less than half full).

Nope... this guy went out of his way (again, less than half full car) to fill in the empty seat in the row he had just given us, dividing our party for no reason I can possibly fathom.

Fortunately, the person put in that seat understood, and simply moved to one of the many open rows once underway.
This Turd needs to be reported to Amtrak.

Please call Customer Relations( not Customer Service) and explain what happened due to a rude employee that evidently shouldn't be working in a Customer Facing position.
 
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Joined
Feb 12, 2022
Messages
11
Location
Northern Germany
Sitting on the Coast Starlight as I type this.. I've expressed before that it seems the younger crews *trend* towards being friendly and engaging, and the older ones are dismissive and lazy. That, at least, has nearly consistently been my experience....

The guy scanning tickets (older crew) *snapped* at them, actually shouting "Stand over there and wait, you don't go anywhere til I tell you where to sit"....

The business class car is maybe 40% full. We were assigned two windows and an aisle. I thought "oh, that's nice, he deliberately leaving an aisle seat open (four seats for three people in a car less than half full).

Nope... this guy went out of his way (again, less than half full car) to fill in the empty seat in the row he had just given us, dividing our party for no reason I can possibly fathom....
I sometimes wonder, does Amtrak, outside the Northeast Corridor, understand why they offer Business Class? I could not when I rode BC on a Superliner-equipped Saluki from Chicago to Carbondale. (Among other amusements, I was called late from the Chicago lounge and told to wait on the platform until the last dozen coach passengers had boarded.) The conductor on the return trip could not explain the fun I had had, and moved me from coach to Eastern-style(?) business class as compensation. He was a good guy who has probably since retired.
 
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JP1822

Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 8, 2019
Messages
103
I know this may not be too professional and kind either, but if the Amtrak employee started “barking” at me in rude and unprofessional tones (like with the elderly couple above), I am calling it out right there on the scene. Sorry, but its called being human and doing your job.

Just give the instructions in a tone that is civil, as if everyone is a new rider and doesn’t know any better, No need for the rude and bearish attitudes. Sometimes a person needs to be reminded of that. Sure perhaps the conductor is coming off of a bad experience the station before. But one may have to be reminded to wipe the slate clean.

On the trip with the constant cold food being delivered, send it back to the kitchen…… That’s just wrong. Once may be forgiving but after the second, and third, that’s just beyond and unacceptable. A call to customer relations - for sure. Amtrak is charging on the Western routes for a sleeper, similar to what VIA Rail Canada does for a discounted Sleeper Plus on its Canadian. Passengers are “putting up with this.”

After all, what are you paying for? It’s thousands of dollars for multiple people (let alone for families). You are paying to rent a closet, be herded like cattle, and be served food you can’t eat? No, not acceptable. I ride regularly and support the Amtrack LD system. Amtrak has and does do better. Thankfully, I haven’t had any of these surly attendants. A few came close but then seemed to change their attitude once they knew they were getting tipped. How ironic….. For the routes I take, I’ve gotten to know many of the onboard service crew.

Customer facing on the front lines - you have to have the good customer service tone put forth all the time. That’s wha they are being paid for, and being paid well for. Riders are also paying handsomely to ride - when onboard services are seemingly getting more sparse.
 
Joined
Dec 26, 2014
Messages
3,325
I know this may not be too professional and kind either, but if the Amtrak employee started “barking” at me in rude and unprofessional tones (like with the elderly couple above), I am calling it out right there on the scene. Sorry, but its called being human and doing your job.

Just give the instructions in a tone that is civil, as if everyone is a new rider and doesn’t know any better, No need for the rude and bearish attitudes. Sometimes a person needs to be reminded of that. Sure perhaps the conductor is coming off of a bad experience the station before. But one may have to be reminded to wipe the slate clean.

In theory, I agree with you completely. However, remember a conductor can decide you are “unruly” even if you simply remind them to be professional and do their job right—and toss you off the train at the next stop.

It wouldn’t matter if you got tossed, say, on the most crowded part of the NEC—you could just take the next train or even commuter rail.

But if you get tossed out in the wilderness—like from the Empire Builder in a wheat field where the nearest house is 100 miles away or in the Rocky Mountains with the mountain lions tossing a coin for who gets to eat you for lunch—you’ve got a worse problem than a nasty conductor!😮

So you might want to look out the window and see where you are, then decide whether to discuss the conductor’s behavior with them.😁

(By the way, nobody argues with the NEC conductors because they move too fast for you to get hold of them!😁)
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
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Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Fwiw, the experience posted above, from the swc, is being discussed on Amtrak employees Facebook page. Many employees upset and frustrated about the situation as it happened. Others discussing the frustration of their new schedule of working 6 days and having 4 days off for the swc.
Just out of curiosity, what are people concluding regarding the incident? I hope that are none that think that this is an appropriate way to get back at the management on the backs of the poor customers by treating them like that.
 
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Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
4,715
Location
Baltimore. MD
Regarding Amtrak employees with less-than-desired customer service skills, here are some comments from earlier this month that I came across on another online forum that might be of interest:

. . . . as we leave New Mexico this evening I have to say how disappointed I am in this trip.
We planned this trip for months. Brought my son and grandson for their first long distance train trip. So excited to introduce them to our favorite mode of travel.

The one thing I was sure of was the dining car. It has gone from bad to horrible on this trip.

The two dining car attendants are unbelievable! Not low energy, negative energy. Everything seems to be such a bother to them. Never introduced themselves like every other long distance train we have been on.

You know how the attendant always asks people to wait at the door to be seated? We were told "go sit down somewhere if you want dinner!" This is after we have tipped well for each meal.

The woman (older) is limping like she's in agony all of a sudden tonight. But honestly, for the past 24 hours she has slowed in serving so much it is almost comical.

She took our order tonight and returned to the table with our drinks in the cardboard drink carrier like you get in the cafe then just sat the carrier on our table and walked away.

Then when the appetizers arrived she just sat the entire serving tray on the table and walked away! We had to sort it out for ourselves.
Doesn't the lobster cake look delish? Ice cold. Refrigerator cold!

The entrees arrived in the same manner. Brown plastic serving tray plopped down on the table and she walked away!
Tortellini look good? Ice cold. Not room temperature. Ice cold!

We didn't even bother with dessert.

If I were a first time rider after spending a ton of money on this trip there's no way I would ever do another!

Not a one off.

Sausages this morning were refrigerator cold. French toast hard and dried up too.

What is going on? Are they purposely trying to discourage ridership? If not, they are certainly doing just that.

The sleeping cars are just about full, but the dining car has been not even half full ( one one side) at any meal.
This person should be complaining to Customer Relations, (and maybe a copy to the top Amtrak management, and perhaps their Senators and Congressional reps), not to an online forum. Of course, they might have done just that....
 
Joined
Nov 9, 2011
Messages
2,064
Location
Long Island, NY
Just out of curiosity, what are people concluding regarding the incident? I hope that are none that think that this is an appropriate way to get back at the management on the backs of the poor customers by treating them like that.
95% are disgusted with the situation. 5% have empathy for the crews that have had their layover days reduced and are being overworked, etc.
 

jis

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I have reported this to RPA to take up and follow through with Mr. Chestler.

Regarding Amtrak employees with less-than-desired customer service skills, here are some comments from earlier this month that I came across on another online forum that might be of interest:

. . . . as we leave New Mexico this evening I have to say how disappointed I am in this trip.
We planned this trip for months. Brought my son and grandson for their first long distance train trip. So excited to introduce them to our favorite mode of travel.

Unfortunately, apparently it is quite difficult to get critical details like the date of travel and origin and destination for the individual who posted the complaint on Facebook. I am wondering if perhaps @OBS or anyone else can provide at least the date on which this occurred and on which specific train. There is an Amtrak executive who would like to know. Since I heard this sort of third hand it is kind of difficult for me to figure out when exactly this inicdent took place.

Please PM if you prefer to not disclose publicly.

Thanks for any help...
 
Joined
Oct 6, 2021
Messages
66
Location
California
In theory, I agree with you completely. However, remember a conductor can decide you are “unruly” even if you simply remind them to be professional and do their job right—and toss you off the train at the next stop.

It wouldn’t matter if you got tossed, say, on the most crowded part of the NEC—you could just take the next train or even commuter rail.

But if you get tossed out in the wilderness—like from the Empire Builder in a wheat field where the nearest house is 100 miles away or in the Rocky Mountains with the mountain lions tossing a coin for who gets to eat you for lunch—you’ve got a worse problem than a nasty conductor!😮

So you might want to look out the window and see where you are, then decide whether to discuss the conductor’s behavior with them.😁

(By the way, nobody argues with the NEC conductors because they move too fast for you to get hold of them!😁)
I agree with you completely. I certainly think that someone treating customers poorly deserves a bit of professional attention from managment.

But, I'm not always willing to be the one to do it - especially during the moment of service.

As you point out, these staff are empowered to deboard you from the train, with potential legal consequence.

In a perfect world, that would only happen if a passenger were behaving in a truly egregious manner.

Unfortunately, when you've already seen the staff member in question behave in an improper manner - that's a strong suggestion they'll continue to do so. That is, they'll use the power they have to simply eject you rather than live up to proper service standards. ("Give people a little power.." and all that).

As an aside, maybe a decade ago, I was on a TATL flight and one of the FAs was being.. really poorly.. moved a friend up from coach to business (not my concern), but then spent a good chunk of the flight ignoring all the other pax in favor of socializing with their friend and piling on the food and drinks.

While still on board, I reached out by email to the airline. I expected a reply later.. after landing, in any event.

Well.. the reply came more quickly. The lead purser, about 90 minutes later, came to my seat with my email on her tablet. Apologized profusely. Made sure me, and the people in the section were given appropriate service for the balance of the flight.

I def got the stink eye from the original FA and her friend, though.
 
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Joined
Nov 9, 2011
Messages
2,064
Location
Long Island, NY
Unfortunately, apparently it is quite difficult to get critical details like the date of travel and origin and destination for the individual who posted the complaint on Facebook. I am wondering if perhaps @OBS or anyone else can provide at least the date on which this occurred and on which specific train. There is an Amtrak executive who would like to know. Since I heard this sort of third hand it is kind of difficult for me to figure out when exactly this inicdent took place.

Please PM if you prefer to not disclose publicly.

Thanks for any help...
I could swear I saw a date when I initially read thru all the posts, but just reread everything and I can't find it, sorry.
Sent you PM
 
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