Amtrak / terrible customer service

Review updated:

Today I had a train ticket for the 8:58 train from Burbank to San Diego. There is no agent at the Burbank station. Someone was hit by a train early in the morning and they could have called or emailed me. They had all the information. Someone was hit by a train in Van Nuys, CA very early that morning and the police kept terminating the service from Burbank and saying train would come in 2 hours but it never did. When I called customer service *4 times) nobody know about the fatality even at 11am in the morning. To top it off, they had the gall to charge me the 10% cancellation free when they are the ones who cancelled my plans to take a train. I am out over $50 in taxi cab fare and had to drive to San Diego and pay for valet parking for 4 days. Amtrak did not have the decency to send a van to Burbarnk to pick up stranded passengers to take them to LA to get trains to their destinations. However, Amtrak did report lies to the TV news and lied stating that they got the passengers new train tickets. Perhaps they got service for the people who were on the train that hit the pedestrian but they did not do anything for the people in Burbank right down the street. I am thoroughly disgusted and will never travel Amtrak for the rest of my life. I will also sue them and won't be happy until they go bankrupt. Nobody in customer service even apologized to me. Their employees refused to give me the name and address of the President of the company. Absolutely horrible experience!

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  • Jo
      Aug 03, 2008

    3 August 2008

    Amtrak Corporation

    Dear Sirs:

    My dearest sister, Cheryl Whitmire, decided to give me a surprise treat and purchased a train trip for her to come from Sacramento, CA down to Van Nuys, CA to pick me up and then both of us went on Amtrak to visit my elderly mother and father (my sister paid for the entire Amtrak ticket for both of us). Then, she came all the way back with me just to keep me company from Stockton, CA to Van Nuys, CA; then she went back to Sacramento. The date was April 10th (Thursday) from Sacramento, CA down to Van Nuys, CA Amtrak station in the name of Cheryl Whitmire.

    On our return trip from Oakland to Van Nuys CA we got on the Stockton Amtrak, Sunday April 20th at 9:14 A.M. going into Van Nuys with somebody picking us up that evening late. The train broke down just three minutes after we departed Stockton and they kept trying to start up the engine to no avail. We sat on the side tracks for two hours waiting for Amtrak to send another train to pick us up after the breakdown and non-start.

    I became extremely upset! My entire day was totally ruined because my sister and I were not able to meet our friends that were waiting at the Van Nuys, CA Amtrak station that night on time as planned.

    I know that we have a refund coming because a frequent Amtrak traveler wrote the enclosed letter while we were sitting there wondering what to do with ourselves for two hours. I was told by this gentleman that Amtrak would give me a credit number and send a total refund so that my sister’s expense would be totally refunded to her credit card.

    Please let me know as soon as possible when you will be sending the entire amount of refund. Please call me at #[protected] Joanna Fay Polak, or email [protected]; or write a letter to Joanna Fay Polak, 3550 Poppy Drive, Calabasas, CA [protected]. I would like to use Amtrak again on September 30th, 2008.


    Joanna Faye Polak
    3550 Poppy Drive
    Calabasas, CA [protected]

    0 Votes
  • Ma
      Aug 16, 2008

    My friends are taking the Amtrak from San Diego to Burbank.

    First, we board the train and sit at a table on the second floor of the train. All is well until we get hungry...

    There is a cafe almost directly below us, and our table is right next to the stairs. We walk down the stairs and are instantly greeted by about a dozen 25-40 year old men, drinks in their hands, and a slurred array of lines such as "LADIESSS" "Heyy, baby" and "You know, 16 is the legal drinking age in Europe...!"

    By avoiding eye contact, we managed to escape to our seats.

    A bit later, some of the drunk guys come up from the cafe and stand at the top of the stairs, right next to our seats. They start playing (bad) music, and one sets his beer on our table. We wait until they have finished their song and I ask them, semi-polite and semi-firm, to please turn down the music. They apoligize sarcastically, laughing like...drunks. We remind them that they aren't the only ones on the train, and they finally turn off the music.

    Suddenly, we hear yelling and crashes by the stairs, where, according to later accounts, one man accidentally stepped on another's Cubs hat, resulting in a 6 on 2 fist fight. We hear punches being thrown, a girl screaming, more cussing than Superbad, and an Amtrak worker being put on hold by the police.

    This goes on for a good 10-15 minutes. A call is then sent throughout the train for anyone on the train with medical training, and we are delayed an hour.

    Meanwhile, another intoxicated man has invited himself to sit at our table. He smells.

    I don't think the Amtrak can do anything about stupid people, but they can control how much alcohol they sell to customers. These guys were very drunk, very loud, and very rowdy before any violence.

    0 Votes
  • Gr
      Dec 26, 2012

    on my return to westerly, ri, a conductor assured me he would help me with my bag and getting off the exit. he never showed so i had someone help me with my bag and i could not find the exit even though the sign above me said exit. i was told it would be 3 cars down. at that point, a conductor asked if there was a problem and he immediately opened the emergency exit. i dont believe i was told the exit was 3 cars down and also the person announcing the stops needs to increase his voice, could hardly hear him. this was not a very good experience for me


    0 Votes
  • Re
      Nov 22, 2015

    I've read a LOT of bleeding-heart complaints about Amtrak service, most of which could have been avoided. Here's my Top Ten List for Amtrak travelers: 1) Don't board the train with a chip on your shoulder. It is YOUR attitude that dictates how you are treated by the Amtrak staff and fellow passengers. Boarding the train with an attitude of, "Hello, Amtrak. What can I to make your job easier today?" goes a LONG way toward making your travel experience more enjoyable for everyone. 2) The train is often off-schedule, and almost all of the time it is due to circumstances beyond Amtrak's control. Yes, there are occasional mechanical "opportunities, " but you have those with your own home, car, computer, workplace, etc. Many of the time delays are the result of infrastructure, maintenance, and rail use conflicts. There are occasional personal passenger issues (i.e., medical, safety, etc.) that can cause major delays. Sometimes delays are caused by hostile passengers that require unscheduled stops (sometimes in the middle of nowhere) so local, state, and federal law enforcement can assist Amtrak in adjusting their personal travel schedule. Occasionally someone felt it necessary to attempt to (unsuccessfully) beat a train to a crossing, bringing ALL rail traffic to a grinding halt until the mess can be cleaned up and the tracks repaired. Amtrak cannot control washed out bridges, floods, extreme weather, etc. Getting hostile with the dining car staff because you're behind schedule will NOT make the train move faster. There's a dude up in the engine that has his hand on the throttle lever, and he is in radio contact with a dispatcher who is facilitating all of the rail traffic in the area. It is not his responsibility --- nor does he have time --- to inform you of why he is doing what he is doing. 3) Almost all Amtrak employees are human beings. They react to you the way most humans react to you. If you act like you think you are royalty, they may not accommodate your self-elevated status quickly enough to satisfy you. If you act like you perceive them as your personal lowly servants, they may not immediately assume that lowly state in an appropriately humble way to satisfy you. Do not expect them to genuflect in your presence, or kiss any part of your anatomy in adoration, awe, or reverence. 4) Remember that you are sharing space on a public conveyance with others, many of whom think that THEY are God's gift to the human race. The Amtrak employees (as well as your fellow passengers) are reacting to them (and you) in predictable ways. You may not be fully aware of all of the situations your Amtrak employees are dealing with at any given point in time. Let them do their job without creating yet another issue for them to deal with. 5) Not all Amtrak staff members are fully aware of all of the factors influencing your progression down the tracks at any given point in time. It is not their responsibility to interrupt their duties to become fully aware of why your train is traveling at the speed it is (or is stopped "in the middle of nowhere") just to satisfy your curiosity. Relax. Chances are you and the train will probably arrive at about the same time. 6) Use the seat(s) reserved for you --- and ONLY the seat(s) reserved for you --- unless you make specific adjustments with the Conductor. Be considerate of your fellow travelers and not slop your junk (and audio) over into adjacent seats and public spaces. Just because that seat next to you is empty right now, there is no guarantee that it will remain unoccupied past the next station. The Conductor may or may not know if that seat is sold further down the line. 7) It is NOT the responsibility of any Amtrak employee to make sure you detrain at the proper location. Amtrak can only do so much to protect you from your own stupidity, inattention, inadequate planning, and ignorance. 8) Be tolerant of your fellow passengers as well as the Amtrak staff. You do NOT know what internal and external issues and distractions have been impacting their lives for the past 24 hours. 9) If you are the 25th person to tell an Amtrak employee about what you perceive as a problem --- especially if it is something obvious and/or something he/she is powerless to correct --- you may not get the passionately sensitive, genuinely sympathetic response you think you deserve. 10) Remember that Amtrak's sole purpose for existence is to get you from point "A" to point "B" as quickly and safely as possible. The emphasis is on "safely." They probably did not know all of the parameters and circumstances of your specific trip when they published the schedule. Deal with it. Stuff happens. Train delays probably will not cause the world to come to an end. When you perceive an earth-shattering disruption in your travel plans, ask yourself, "Will any of this really matter 5 years from now?"

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