My wife thought that it would be nice to take the train from Anchorage to Talkeetna. So, she paid $164 for two tickets to ride three hours up and three hours back.
Yet when we got to the Anchorage Ticket Office the nice ticket agent said, "Would you like to upgrade your tickets to Gold Star? You can have Gold Star Seats, Gold Star Dinning, and a Gold Star View."
Well, we paid $164 dollars to ride a train in Coach for 3 hours up and three hours back. How much was the upgrade you might ask? $170 USD. Sounded a little steep to us too, but it was a romantic get away with my wife - let's go for it. Food in "Gold Star Dinning," plus tickets, - over $400 for a train ride.
What the nice lady didn't say, what the nice lady with the Upgrade to Gold Star Button the size of a plate on her dress left out, was that although our tickets were round trip, the "Gold Star Upgrade" was only one way.
Mistake? When she asked us if we wanted to "Upgrade to Gold Star," she did not ask us if we wanted to upgrade on the way back. This conversation did not happen in a vacuum. There was a worker on the left, a worker on the right, a manager walking to and fro, and nobody stopped and said, "Don't forget to tell them that the $170 is ONLY ONE WAY.
Now ask yourself, - you have a customer who has bit down on the hook. He or she has said yes to the "Upgrade on the Way Up," but for some reason, you do not ask if "They would like to upgrade on the way back too?"
Let's list all the reason why you would leave that part of the conversation. If you have a round trip tricket and the ticket agent asks if you would like to "upgrade your tickets," what do you think she is saying?
In baggage, on the way back, sitting with the Indian Family, the Australian Family on vacation, and the folks from Kansas and the two gals from Seattle who were so upset because they were robbed by the Alaska RailRoad that they were both crying, my wife and I happened to notice that we were not alone.
Yes, of course we called from the Talkeetna Station to explain that there had been a mistake with our ticket. No mistake, and the woman hung up the phone on my wife. So, of course, when I returned to work on Monday I called the Department of Transportation to report this Alaska RailRoad Scam. But funny, the Alaska RailRoad is a "private Railroad," it is not chartered by the Federal Department of Transportation - it isn't a real railroad - it only looks like a railroad. The Judge Advocate for the Western Regon of the USA will not touch this; it is in Alaska. The Juneau Judge Advocate will not touch this because the "business" is licensed in Anchorage. And guess what, the Judge Advocate in Anchorage cannot touch it because the RailRoad is on their board.
Remember the old days in states like California when you went up against the RailRoad and you ended up in the River?
I got the Marketing and Sales Manager on the phone, like when Jessie James robs you, you are supposed to call his customer service department, and tried to explain this. Let me put it this way, "He was very sorry for our misunderstanding." There were about 20 people on the train in our "Upgrade" and all of them were livid. Some how, I was able to transfer "my" misunderstanding into the minds of an entire train car full of "Upgraded Tourists." That makes me pretty magical.
The marketing and sales person said he would refund "our upgrade." Notice he didn't say "full upgrade." His secretary called and offered us just $80 back, keeping their cut of the other $80. We have the bank statement, it was $170 to sit and watch the view of Alaska and eat micro-waved food.
Uh, we live in Alaska, why are they selling us the view? Then there was the burnt Micro-Wave food - hard as stone.
It was an intentional deception. The tichet agents were told to mislead the tourists. It was the entire Alaska Railroad behind this.
Here is why:
1. She had our tickets in her hand, 4 two up and two back, and when she asked if we "Wanted to upgrade our tickets, doubling our ticket price, thus recouping their loss for their "Father's Day" fare, she did not ask if we wanted to upgrade our return. No not? She didn't want to say it loudly that the $170 was ONLY for one way. "Here, I will upgrade your 'tickets.'
They lied to us and every other person who fell for that. Who do you report that too? It is a PRIVATE company, and they know it.
If I had been in some 3rd World Country I would have expected it. But she lied, the ticket agent actually lied to us about what we were buying. When we called the "customer service office" they hung up.
The Alaska RailRoad said in their "Gold Star Letter to their Gold Star Guests," " ... as our guest you'll be treated to a first-class rail experience like no other in the world."
Actually, I have travelled on trains before. I have travelled by train in Australia, Japan, China, the UK, Kenya, Holland, and all places in between. Even in China, and I have travelled in China before it was open, the ticket agent I last spoke to wanted to be sure that I understood that there was no lunch in the car I was sitting in. In Alaska, with all the other tourists, I was cheated, scammed, money was taken from me for services not rendered and they have made every attempt to cover it up and there is no agency to report this to.
I have travelled in both China, Kenya, Tanzania, Panama, and even Columbia, - I know when I am being robbed.
Ripped off tourist in alaska