Worst trip ever taken on Amtrak

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nanavc

Train Attendant
Joined
May 30, 2011
Messages
35
Location
FL
Hubby & I have been riding Amtrak for years we live in Fl. We have taken quite a few routes-Builder, Chief, Zephyr, Silvers and never once had a really awful experience, until yesterday. We were in DC and were waiting for the 91. I had asked about a redcap since I have some mobility issues and I wasn't sure how that worked since we were in coach, we usually do roomettes but prices were a bit much. Anyhow, a couple of Amtrak employees told us to be back to the redcap/luggage area at least 25 min. before train departure. We came back almost an hour before. We were basically ignored, we had asked a redcap and he said "yeah someone will be back" it was 2:45 train scheduled to leave at 3:04, still no sign of anyone. A gentleman in a suit happened to come from the back ( lost luggage area) and asked if we needed help. Told him the situation and he was visibly upset, got on his walkie-talkie to someone about getting there right now, then led us back to an elevator and sent us to a young lady waiting with a cart. She was so nice, but I didn't get her name. She got us over to the train talked to the conductor outside and proceeded to get us a seat in the rear by restrooms and with little more legroom. Right across from wheelchair seating. We were settling in when this other female Amtrak employee got on with some people and started yelling at my husband and me that these were reserved seats and who told us we could sit there, I tried to explain but she kept shouting at us, finally I raised my voice and told her that the man outside taking tickets, the conductor told redcap to seat us there. She threw her hands up in the air and muttered something and stormed off. She passed thru a few times and glared at us. We were so embarrassed by the whole thing. We may never ride again. Right after the train started to move I went to the restroom, now I know train originated in New York, but it was already disgusting, looked like someone peed in the floor toilet was stuffed with paper towels it was gross. waited for the other one that wasn't as bad. It stayed like that for hours till someone finally came and cleaned it. They made an announcement about not trashing the bathroom but by 6 am it was nasty again. passengers were off the chain, laughing had music blaring, someone was smoking pot in the bathroom. And the only time anyone came thru the car was if someone got on and they only scanned tickets and took off. We seriously may never take the train again. I didn't get the woman's name that was screaming at us, so I don't know if I should try to call someone to complain or who to call. If she was like that to us I'm sure she has been or will be like that to someone else.
 

Cal

Foamer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
2,979
Location
Socal
I am so sorry about your experience. Amtrak is so inconsistent, you never know what to expect.

The lady who was rude to you was most likely a coach attendant from what I can tell, I am not sure who you can contact but there are people on AU who do. These bad employees truly drag Amtrak down, and yet Amtrak management can't be bothered to deal with them in many cases.

I have heard about poor cleanliness in Amfleet bathrooms before, although I have never travelled on an Eastern LD train.

I hope you do give Amtrak another chance.
 

flitcraft

Conductor
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
1,079
Yes, you absolutely should complain. None of that was even remotely acceptable. Call Customer Relations, and let them know about the unacceptable treatment you received from staff, and the state of the bathrooms. I would ask for a full refund--you may well get it.
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
23,543
Location
Austin Texas
Hubby & I have been riding Amtrak for years we live in Fl. We have taken quite a few routes-Builder, Chief, Zephyr, Silvers and never once had a really awful experience, until yesterday. We were in DC and were waiting for the 91. I had asked about a redcap since I have some mobility issues and I wasn't sure how that worked since we were in coach, we usually do roomettes but prices were a bit much. Anyhow, a couple of Amtrak employees told us to be back to the redcap/luggage area at least 25 min. before train departure. We came back almost an hour before. We were basically ignored, we had asked a redcap and he said "yeah someone will be back" it was 2:45 train scheduled to leave at 3:04, still no sign of anyone. A gentleman in a suit happened to come from the back ( lost luggage area) and asked if we needed help. Told him the situation and he was visibly upset, got on his walkie-talkie to someone about getting there right now, then led us back to an elevator and sent us to a young lady waiting with a cart. She was so nice, but I didn't get her name. She got us over to the train talked to the conductor outside and proceeded to get us a seat in the rear by restrooms and with little more legroom. Right across from wheelchair seating. We were settling in when this other female Amtrak employee got on with some people and started yelling at my husband and me that these were reserved seats and who told us we could sit there, I tried to explain but she kept shouting at us, finally I raised my voice and told her that the man outside taking tickets, the conductor told redcap to seat us there. She threw her hands up in the air and muttered something and stormed off. She passed thru a few times and glared at us. We were so embarrassed by the whole thing. We may never ride again. Right after the train started to move I went to the restroom, now I know train originated in New York, but it was already disgusting, looked like someone peed in the floor toilet was stuffed with paper towels it was gross. waited for the other one that wasn't as bad. It stayed like that for hours till someone finally came and cleaned it. They made an announcement about not trashing the bathroom but by 6 am it was nasty again. passengers were off the chain, laughing had music blaring, someone was smoking pot in the bathroom. And the only time anyone came thru the car was if someone got on and they only scanned tickets and took off. We seriously may never take the train again. I didn't get the woman's name that was screaming at us, so I don't know if I should try to call someone to complain or who to call. If she was like that to us I'm sure she has been or will be like that to someone else.
It's happened to all of us, but by all means Call Customer Relations,( 800- USA- RAIL,) when you get a Regular Agent after listening to "Julie", ask for "Customer Relations"( not Customer Service) and give them the details about the Red Cap in DC, the rude treatment by that Woman and the condition of the Bathrooms on 91, including the Pot Smoking.

Since you said you're familiar with Amtrak Travel, you surely realize this was an exception, not the norm, but there is no excuse for the lousy service.
 

me_little_me

Engineer
AU Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
4,498
That's disgusting of them. Too bad you didn't get some names of the offenders and the names of witnesses. More than what the others have mentioned, I'd search the web for how to file an ADA complaint against Amtrak for violation of the law. Send a written letter to Amtrak executive offices (with return receipt requested) and advise them you are filing an ADA complaint based on your treatment at the station and onboard.
 

gwolfdog

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 27, 2020
Messages
252
That sucked, but let it go for your own sake. I also need assistance going on trips and leaving the house. People have been wonderful helping the majority of the time but I am not surprised when I run into self-centered jerks on occasion. I'd probably be screaming at an Amtrak Rep. now just for personal satisfaction while not expecting much in return. My wife would be running for the BP meds. JMHO
 

dlagrua

Engineer
AU Supporter
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
3,286
Location
Hillsborough, NJ
We have been riding Amtrak exclusively for years have also experienced the decline in LD service. In sleepers; broken seats, leaky faucets, leaky shower, cut amenities (newspaper, Ice, table flowers, chocolates, juice, eliminated) lack of A/C, wine and snacks on the Autotrain, and finally food (now still on the eastern LD routes) that tastes worse than any TV dinner that we have ever had. Now that Amtrak is better funded we may see a few of these things corrected but Amtrak keeps escalating prices while giving the rail passenger less . Its second class service at above first class prices. We hope to return to the rails one day but we are flying this year. First class air is way less expensive, faster, food is better and overall a more acceptable way to travel in 2021. At least we now have TSA pre-Check which restores some dignity to the flying experience.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Joined
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I'd search the web for how to file an ADA complaint against Amtrak for violation of the law. Send a written letter to Amtrak executive offices (with return receipt requested) and advise them you are filing an ADA complaint based on your treatment at the station and onboard.
At which point they may be advised to avoid interacting with you and direct further correspondence to the legal dept. Maybe it would be better to see if they can address the problem to your satisfaction before engaging the nuclear option.
 

flitcraft

Conductor
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
1,079
At which point they may be advised to avoid interacting with you and direct further correspondence to the legal dept. Maybe it would be better to see if they can address the problem to your satisfaction before engaging the nuclear option.
This is good advice, Once you escalate, they are apt to be defensive and you won't get any satisfaction. My advice is the same as the first advice you got--contact Customer Relations, tell them what happened, as calmly and non-angrily as you can, and suggest that a refund under the circumstances is in order. You'll almost certainly get at least a voucher, and it is not unheard of to get a partial or even full refund. You'll also have the satisfaction of knowing that Amtrak was put on notice of unacceptable conditions.

I have seldom had reason to register a complaint, but the two times I did, I got a significant voucher as a result. On the other hand, I also report excellent employees who go above and beyond to make my trips pleasant. There my 'compensation' is knowing that, hopefully, the staff person in question is told that they were commended by a customer. (Of course, this gets reflected in my tips more directly. :)
 

me_little_me

Engineer
AU Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
4,498
I have run into a few rude Amtrak employees. In all my travels I would put the number at 10% of Amtrak employees are rude or incompetent. The problem is that these employees seem to have little or no supervison so their actions go unchecked and their level of service continues.
My experience is that rudeness and failure to do the things they should be doing is much lower on any of the western trains as compared to the Crescent (the one I experience most) in the east. The Capitol Limited seems to be much better than Crescent also.
 

McLeansvilleAppFan

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 29, 2019
Messages
91
Location
Greensboro (McLeansville0, NC
The wife and I were on the 20 Crescent a few years ago and we derailed under Union Station in DC. Obviously not going very fast, but we did jump off the tracks at a switch.

I am on the 80 Carolinian as I type this and about 75 minutes late and just sitting waiting on a clear signal just shy of Petersburg. NS seems to have put a freight in front of the train after leaving Charlotte and was already late by the time we boarded in Greensboro. Now every chance to let the schedule slip is being taken by CSX.

The on board employees have been super nice and the cafe attendant is top notch. So hard to be upset, though a daughter waiting for us went ahead with lunch.
 

McLeansvilleAppFan

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 29, 2019
Messages
91
Location
Greensboro (McLeansville0, NC
The wife and I were on the 20 Crescent a few years ago and we derailed under Union Station in DC. Obviously not going very fast, but we did jump off the tracks at a switch.

I am on the 80 Carolinian as I type this and about 75 minutes late and just sitting waiting on a clear signal just shy of Petersburg. NS seems to have put a freight in front of the train after leaving Charlotte and was already late by the time we boarded in Greensboro. Now every chance to let the schedule slip is being taken by CSX.

The on board employees have been super nice and the cafe attendant is top notch. So hard to be upset, though a daughter waiting for us went ahead with lunch.
5 cop cars were at the RVR-Richmond station when we arrived. Some were on the platform. We did not go into the station but walked around the building to the car so I am not sure if more cops were in the building. I don't know if this was another anti-masker in a different car or something else entirely.

The police did not have a mask on in the station according to my daughter. They should model better behavior in my opinion.
 

caravanman

Engineer
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
4,316
Location
Nottingham, England.
Maybe the problem is not so much with amtrak, as with all of us?
Let me explain...
Most folk on this forum would not use Amtrak LD in coach? That seems to be my take on the membership?
Not everyone, but mostly... When did you last ride in coach, a rare thing, or fairly often?
Coach is mainly seen as "low rent", not of interest or concern to most.
Likewise, maybe amtrak staff feel the same? Coach passengers are a necessary evil, no need to treat them with much consideration or respect? Think about it, think about your own attitude to coach passengers?
 

Brian Battuello

Lead Service Attendant
AU Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jul 23, 2014
Messages
439
Location
Arlington, MA (near Boston)
Well asked. I usually avoid basic coach like the plague, but took it today from PHL-NYC because I couldn't see wasting the points on a 90 minute trip. In fact, despite a bit of a scramble for pairs of seats, the trip was perfectly routine and certainly more comfortable than any ride on airline coach (except maybe JetBlue, bless them).

I would really, really like to hope that Amtrak considers its coach passengers with the same respect as other classes. We can't keep telling Congress how critical Amtrak is to flyover country if we think Amtrak is solely an "experiential" experience.
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 22, 2009
Messages
5,323
Location
Washington State
I don't see coach as low rent. I take coach when the duration is about 12/13 hours or less during when it is largely during daylight. I just want a place to lie down.

Coach passengers should have access to the same basic services, like the diner, that sleeper passengers do.

And I agree that Amtrak is cutting it's own throat in the long term with these restrictions.
 
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Devil's Advocate

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Maybe the problem is not so much with amtrak, as with all of us? Let me explain...Most folk on this forum would not use Amtrak LD in coach? That seems to be my take on the membership? Not everyone, but mostly... When did you last ride in coach, a rare thing, or fairly often?
My first two decades were in coach. Is that enough?

Coach is mainly seen as "low rent", not of interest or concern to most. Likewise, maybe amtrak staff feel the same? Coach passengers are a necessary evil, no need to treat them with much consideration or respect? Think about it, think about your own attitude to coach passengers?
Outside of Amtrak I don't normally see staff shouting at customers without fear of penalty or punishment. Maybe we should blame the people treating customers like trash instead of worrying about misplaced surrogate guilt.
 
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crescent-zephyr

Engineer
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
3,917
My experience is that rudeness and failure to do the things they should be doing is much lower on any of the western trains as compared to the Crescent (the one I experience most) in the east. The Capitol Limited seems to be much better than Crescent also.
By far the worst service I’ve ever encountered on Amtrak was multiple Coast Starlight Dining Car crews. One LSA on the Chief was up there with them (same LA crew base).

Most folk on this forum would not use Amtrak LD in coach? That seems to be my take on the membership?
Not everyone, but mostly... When did you last ride in coach, a rare thing, or fairly often?
I’ve traveled coach on Amtrak countless times throughout my life. I won’t take coach when I fly... not worth being stuffed into a tiny seat!
 

Michigan Mom

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 28, 2012
Messages
918
Location
MI
The lack of cohesive, standard response to a passenger with stated mobility challenges is a management issue. I hope Amtrak isn't like the airline world, where greedy people at the top kick problems down to the front line staff, and then don't give them the resources and staffing they need to take care of customers. Execs need less bonuses, less golden parachutes, less stock options, and the people on the front lines need more and better support, salary, coaching, and resources.
Hire more redcaps if you need to, Amtrak. The population is aging and chronic health conditions are on the rise.
 

anumberone

Engineer
AU Supporter
Joined
Aug 8, 2015
Messages
3,062
Location
Los Angeles
Maybe the problem is not so much with amtrak, as with all of us?
Let me explain...
Most folk on this forum would not use Amtrak LD in coach? That seems to be my take on the membership?
Not everyone, but mostly... When did you last ride in coach, a rare thing, or fairly often?
Coach is mainly seen as "low rent", not of interest or concern to most.
Likewise, maybe amtrak staff feel the same? Coach passengers are a necessary evil, no need to treat them with much consideration or respect? Think about it, think about your own attitude to coach passengers?
A little over the top with the class. Sounds a bit snooty.
 
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cassie225

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
320
Location
Louisiana
I love taking coach sometimes, I have had great conversations, when I brought my mom back she had Alzheimer’s, I got so much advice from folks, we were in coach, now that was in 2007, coach might have changed, I do not like that one Amtrak employee told me as I was in a sleeper that coach was the low rent and we were up town, sleeper is not my idea of uptown, I can lay down in sleeper,
 
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