The Great Train Robbery

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Aug 9, 2017
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#21
I find it interesting that the OP states "We could have flown, but that involves the early arrivals, three plane changes, luggage problems, and even first class is no joyride. We could go first class air for $1000 less, but the train is much nicer." Rail travel in this country is and has been awful for almost 50 years. Why one would consider Amtrak and have high expectations with respect to food is beyond me.

By the way a quick routing on Southwest shows many 1-stop flights from Sacramento (1/2 hour from Roseville) to Boston. Yes, the departure time looks like 12 hours (leave at noon arrive at midnight) but there is a 3 hour time difference working against you when headed west to east. I fly Southwest about 6 times a year; my experience, luggage problems don't exist, plane changes can be minimal and are quick (no three hour layovers). My wife and I are flying from Oakland to Philadelphia in August. We leave Oakland around 11 AM and arrive Philadelphia around midnight. Do I like it? No, but my body thinks it is 9 PM . I'll survive, the alternative of 2 nights on an Amtrak train is just too painful.
 
Likes: jsn55
Jun 4, 2018
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#22
I have been riding trains for many years, I also worked in the aviation industry and flew on planes that are no considered antiques, but were fun to fly on. With Southwest you get sardine class. One trip on United from DC a few years ago the aisle seat was occupied by an extremely obese passenger, Ilet my wife sit by the window seat while I had pressure on my shoulder for six hours. We went to Spain two years ago and on the return trip the food was inedible in sardine class.

We rode the RENFE in Span, three hours Madrid to Valencia, same as SF to LA. We ride the Capital Corridor several times a year, Sacramento to Richmond, then BART to SF civic center to go to the opera, go to dinner after the opera, and can doze on the train on the way home. We rode the Rocky Mountain Vancouver to Banf, just a great experience. YOu are not me, I have my preferences, I like being able to sit at a table having dinner, talking with new people, watching the scenery. We need better and mor frequent passenger train service, but the airlines have seen to ti that it is made less enjoyable. AS long as people like yourself thing trains are a poor way to travel, we will not have improved service. Notice the rest of the world is train friendly. Even with a TSA pass air is a hassle. I have an artificial shoulder, so set off the xray when I go through. I have an xray I carry to show it, but the fugitives from the neolithic seem to think I have something hidden under t Shirts and shorts.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
14,280
13,571
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#23
You aren’t handling this the Elliott way. Please read the instructions on our Company Contacts in HOW to write and skip CC’ing anyone. Our process we give - start at the bottom and move up one by one to the Executives- is the best way to try and get results.

You do not start at the top - if the CEO says no, you have no one to appeal to.

You came here for assistance because if the success you’ve seen here. Doing it the way we advise you is the best option for getting somewhere. Read Chris’s blog about people handling their complaints the wrong way and getting no where.
 
Jun 4, 2018
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#24
I have not sent anything to the company, I am working on how to make the appeal. I assume you mean I should not respond to other posts, as that is what I haave been doing so far. I have had several suggestions from other readers, but will be sending letter to Amtrak Board soon. I do ask if email is good enough, or should I also send by U.S. Mail to the board also? I thought this was a forum where this could be discussed, is that a mistake on my part?
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
14,280
13,571
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#25
David, that’s what we are here for - to advise you how to write a successful letter.

We have found email works better then a postal letter. If you want to follow up in writing, it do t hurt but you usually get a better and faster response with email.

These are the directions we have on our company contacts on how to write. Most folks that come here and do it the way we advise have success.

As a service to our readers, we post the names, numbers and email addresses of executives responsible for customer service at major companies:

If you’re having a problem with a company, please consider using our proven strategies for a resolution.

If listed, start by writing to the Senior Customer Service contact (listed under Executive contacts). Tell them the issue and give them a week to respond. If they don’t respond or refuse to help, write to the next executive shown. If necessary, repeat weekly going up the chain of Executives one at a time.

Do not simply write to the CEO. This could severely limit your ability to resolve your issue.
 

technomage1

Verified Member
Jan 5, 2015
2,012
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#26
We have called cutomer service, and I have told my congressman about this, so this weekend I will set about composing a letter to the Amtrak executives with copies to my senators and my congressman. I am not sure if email is good enough or it I should also send a letter by certified mail. Any thought on this?
Email is fine. Only email one exec at a time, and escalate only if needed. I would give Amtrak a chance prior to notifying congress,
 
Jun 4, 2018
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#27
The Amtrak website is pretty opaque. I am unable to find any contact listing Senior Customer Service, no emails for members of the board of directors, only the general counsel seems to be listed. No contacts for the BoD members, just their names and short bios. A question about Senior Customer Service contact on the automated Q&A thinks I am asking about things like needs for seniors. So if you can, please provide me with the most relevant contact you can find.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#28
I understand the OP’s concerns. I travel by rail in Europe because of many of the issues that are mentioned. Scenery, the ability to bring my own bottle of water, it is just more pleasant. But in the US except for up and down the east coast I fly because of time constraints.

What I really dislike is the cutting of service and calling it “enhancements”.

And the arguments about tax payer’s funding Amtrak and not getting benefit if they do not use it is a bit disingenuous. People who do not drive often but use public transportation end up subsidizing the highways, as that is not entirely user funded.

There is a philosophy that nothing should be subsidized like Amtrak — which I do not agree with. Privatizing the rails has not worked so well in the UK.
 
Jun 4, 2018
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#29
I understand the OP’s concerns. I travel by rail in Europe because of many of the issues that are mentioned. Scenery, the ability to bring my own bottle of water, it is just more pleasant. But in the US except for up and down the east coast I fly because of time constraints.

What I really dislike is the cutting of service and calling it “enhancements”.

And the arguments about tax payer’s funding Amtrak and not getting benefit if they do not use it is a bit disingenuous. People who do not drive often but use public transportation end up subsidizing the highways, as that is not entirely user funded.

There is a philosophy that nothing should be subsidized like Amtrak — which I do not agree with. Privatizing the rails has not worked so well in the UK.
 
Jun 4, 2018
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#30
There is also environmental concerns which I do not have time to get into here, but there are studies showing the reduction in pollution and how some areas have high COPD rates among children ;living close to major vehicle commute routes. There are alo psychological studies showing the effect of commuting by car on families and home life. For instance where I live it is at least three hours a day commuting to the Bay Area, which works out to more like five hours of time total due to having to be on the road early enough to stay ahead of the worst traffic. When lived in LA we considered the 91 to be the worlds longest parking lot. I80 is beginning to look like that now. Yet the conservative faction in the state is absolutely opposed to HSR.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
14,280
13,571
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#32
The Amtrak website is pretty opaque. I am unable to find any contact listing Senior Customer Service, no emails for members of the board of directors, only the general counsel seems to be listed. No contacts for the BoD members, just their names and short bios. A question about Senior Customer Service contact on the automated Q&A thinks I am asking about things like needs for seniors. So if you can, please provide me with the most relevant contact you can find.
David I gave you the link with names and emails.
 

John Galbraith

Staff Member
Director
Jan 22, 2017
373
583
93
Poole
#33
We have called cutomer service, and I have told my congressman about this, so this weekend I will set about composing a letter to the Amtrak executives with copies to my senators and my congressman. I am not sure if email is good enough or it I should also send a letter by certified mail. Any thought on this?
Hi David. We give the pros and cons of writing a letter and email here under 'Should I write a letter, send an email or something else?' However I agree with Technomage - for the issue you are raising an email would be good enough but of course it is your choice.

I have updated our contacts for Amtrak which can be found here. Remember to write to each executive, one at a time giving them a week to respond before you write to the next one on the list. Don't write to them all at once!

I hope this helps.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
14,280
13,571
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#34
There is also environmental concerns which I do not have time to get into here, but there are studies showing the reduction in pollution and how some areas have high COPD rates among children ;living close to major vehicle commute routes. There are alo psychological studies showing the effect of commuting by car on families and home life. For instance where I live it is at least three hours a day commuting to the Bay Area, which works out to more like five hours of time total due to having to be on the road early enough to stay ahead of the worst traffic. When lived in LA we considered the 91 to be the worlds longest parking lot. I80 is beginning to look like that now. Yet the conservative faction in the state is absolutely opposed to HSR.
This has nothing to do with your issue.
 

John Galbraith

Staff Member
Director
Jan 22, 2017
373
583
93
Poole
#35
There is also environmental concerns which I do not have time to get into here, but there are studies showing the reduction in pollution and how some areas have high COPD rates among children ;living close to major vehicle commute routes. There are alo psychological studies showing the effect of commuting by car on families and home life. For instance where I live it is at least three hours a day commuting to the Bay Area, which works out to more like five hours of time total due to having to be on the road early enough to stay ahead of the worst traffic. When lived in LA we considered the 91 to be the worlds longest parking lot. I80 is beginning to look like that now. Yet the conservative faction in the state is absolutely opposed to HSR.
Hi David,

As Neil says this is nothing to do with the issue you are raising at least not directly. If you raise those issues the refund you want will get overlooked.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
7,164
7,021
113
San Francisco
#36
David, I understand your frustration. Here's some tough love. What you are trying to do is change AmTrak's policies and procedures. We can help you reach the correct executives, but nobody can help you restore food service in the manner you want it for your trip. Several of my colleagues have given you alternate ideas ... they are not trying to force you to change your plans, merely giving you some ideas on how to create something pleasant and enjoyable. You can continue attempting to get the food service you want, but AmTrak is not going to put it back for your trip. You seem to have researched the timing, the stops, the ability to get a meal along the way. The socializing can be done in the lounge car, it's just the hot meals that need to be replaced. That's what you need to work on ... making this trip an enjoyable one based on reality. If fruit and cheese and crackers are not your idea of dinner, then you should figure out what will work, based on the existing parameters.

By all means, you should notify AmTrak that they're not offering you the services you booked. You are entitled to compensation ... calculate the cost of those meals you will not be having and ask them to refund the money you paid.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Jun 4, 2018
20
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#37
Hi David,

As Neil says this is nothing to do with the issue you are raising at least not directly. If you raise those issues the refund you want will get overlooked.
This was in response to another comment, I am also a contributor the the Bay Area Transportation Committee of Sierra Club California, so have been studying the issues if rail commuting. And yes it will not be in my letter to the Amtrak Reps. My letter will be in regards to the fact I am not getting what I signed up and paid for, which is first class accommodations and hot meals which I asm not getting far at least 1/3 of the trip. Since Amtrak is a politically controlled organization, I do not expect to get any fee amelioration, however, I want this to become a public controversy if possible. The Amtrak mission statement says it is supposed to make train travel better, they are deliberately making it worse.
 

John Galbraith

Staff Member
Director
Jan 22, 2017
373
583
93
Poole
#38
Hi David, I think your next step, especially as to who you send the email, depends upon what you are trying to achieve.

If you are still looking for some form of refund then, as we always advise, start by writing to the most junior exec and working up the list. I have added the Director of Customer Experience and the Senior Director of Customer Service. We always advise not to copy in lots of people (ie the Amtrak Board). If however you want to make this a wider campaign then of course that is a different matter. One approach could be to write a short email to the first exec on our list asking some form of refund. You could then send a separate letter to the board on the wider issue. Just a thought and the other advocates may have a few on how wise that of course of action might be.
 
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