Complaint Review: Amtrak
60 Massachusetts Ave, NE
Washington Dc, District of Columbia
- Phone: 202-906-3918
- Category: Amtrak
Am trak malicious false and misleading advertising Washington Dc District of Columbia
*Consumer Comment: AMTRAK is ownerd by the Feds
*Consumer Comment: Make the best of it.
*Consumer Comment: Amtrak is not owned by the government, however, they are subsidized by it.
*Consumer Comment: Are You Crazy?
*Consumer Comment: Amtrak Funding
*Consumer Comment: Something to remember about Amtrak
*Consumer Comment: Amtrak's abusive and hateful staff
*Consumer Suggestion: Amtrak not so bad considering
I had planned the trip for my Mother who is 79 years old. I thought a train trip would help her overcome the recent loss of her 30 year old son to lymphomic cancer. I wanted to share some quality time with my Mom on a unique trip together. I thought a train trip would be a nice way to 'get away' from our normal routines and to put a little distance between the pain we felt because of our loss and to explore something neither of us had explored before. Because my Mom has to have oxygen I scrutinized your schedules so that she could spend all of her time in a sleeper, and if she felt better she could go to the diner in the train.
We made reservations for first class deluxe sleeper cars for the entire journey. When I talked with Amtrak representatives I always mentioned that my Mom required oxygen to get around but that she would provide the oxygen. Unfortunately, during our trip no one gave my Mom any consideration due to her medical problems during the entire trip.
Our trip started in Dallas on May 7, 2004. From the start we didn't get any help for our luggage. When we asked the Amtrak representative at the station desk in Dallas if they had any carts to move our luggage she said no "because people push them onto the tracks". (This was odd because at other stations along our itinerary most did have carts. I suppose that there is a phenomenom in Dallas where people there must be different than all the other people in the country.)
After boarding we went to our sleeper cabin. No one was there to help us with our luggage or to help us lower to upper bed. There were no 'red caps' as advertised by Amtrak. And the conductor didn't help us either. I had to carry all of my Mom's bags, as well as my own. Amtrak advertising specifically said that there would be employees to assist passengers. Amtrak not only failed to live up to its advertised claims on this issue, but on countless others as well.
Once on the train we never received any newspapers, we didn't have coffee or juice delivered to us, and there were long waits for any meals. We definitely didn't receive "special seating in the dining car" as claimed by Amtrak advertisements. All of these were promised in advertisements but not one was fulfilled. This is another example of false advertising. It is another example that we did not receive first class treatment, but rather no service at all.
When we arrived in San Antonio we encountered an eight hour delay. No one told us why we were forced to just sit in the train station. I had to find out what was happening from talking with another passenger who was able to find an Amtrak employee. This passenger told me that to get breakfast we would have to walk a long way to the station to get it. After a tiring walk to the station we were handed two styrofoam packages from a large cardboard box.
There was a Denny's emblem on the box. We returned to our cabin and discovered the food was ice cold. Neither of us could even eat the meals. Why couldn't an Amtrak employee deliver the box breakfasts to our room while they were still hot? After all, we paid for FIRST CLASS treatment but we never received such treatment. First class doesn't mean getting ice cold eggs for breakfast. And if that is 'first class' I hate to consider what lower classes are subjected to.
Soon after we boarded the train our coach was being thrown all over the tracks. My Mom became extremely anxious. We signaled an Amtrak attendant and told him of our concerns. He just laughed and called the last coach on the train the "Whip". From my Mother's experience with Canadian trains, sleeper cars were not put on the end of the train but rather toward to front to minimize movement. Why doesn't Amtrak put sleepers toward the front of the trains? After all, people paying for FIRST CLASS accommodations should have the best ride.
Also, during most of our ill-fated trip our sleeper coach was five to eight coaches away from the diner. This posed a great inconvenience to my Mother who requires oxygen when she walks. This, as well as the extreme shaking of the coaches, prevented her from going to the diner many times.
THE BUS TRIP
The rest of our trip was filled with one delay and great inconvenience after another. When we arrived in California we were told that the train was twelve hours late and that we would have to get off the train and get on a bus. This was in Palm Springs, California. My Mom, who needs oxygen to walk, and I had to get all of our baggage and take it to the bus. Again, we received zero help from any Amtrak employee or anyone else. There were no 'red caps' or carts as promised in Amtrak's advertisements. My Mom and I were also unsure whether we were even supposed to be on the bus because there were no Amtrak employees on board to tell us where we were supposed to go.
We paid to stay on the train all the way to Los Angeles so Amtrak again failed to live up to its advertised claims. When I made our reservations I specifically asked the Amtrak representative if we would have plenty of time to go from one train to another at the Las Angeles station. I asked him this because my Mom is on oxygen and she would needs oxygen to walk around. This would necessitate extra time, and extra oxygen, to go from place to place.
We were told by the Amtrak reservationist that the Dallas to Los Angeles train number 421 arrives in Los Angeles on May 9th at 6:40 in the morning. We were told that the schedule dictated that we would have to detrain from the 421 and go to board a northbound train from Los Angeles to Seattle on May 9th at 10:15 in the morning. The reservationist name was 'Sam'. He said "Yes, you would have three hours wait at the Los Angeles station and there would be plenty of time to get to the next train north to Seattle." That Amtrak representative deliberately lied to us.
Later we were told by one Amtrak employee that the train from Dallas to Los Angeles is usually only on-time ONCE in an entire year. If my Mom and I had known the truth about Amtrak's extremely long delays we would never have made a reservation with Amtrak. We were never told that Amtrak routinely has extremely long delays all around the country, as an Amtrak representative told us. By not including warnings of long delays in all of Amtrak's advertising it is a deliberate omission designed to deceive consumers.
It is obvious that Amtrak deliberately failed to offer such pertinent information to deceive consumers. Amtrak is guilty of malicious false and misleading advertisements as defined by the Federal Trade Commission and pertinent state laws.
THE COMMUTER TRAIN TRIP
After a very uncomfortable three and a half drive on a bus we were told we had to go to an Amtrak commuter train #703 on May 9, 2004, in Bakersville. We were also not offered any meals on the bus. When we were getting off the bus we were offered zero help. Again, my Mom and I received ZERO help getting our luggage and bringing it to the commuter train. There also were no 'red caps' or even carts to help us with our luggage as advertised by Amtrak literature. We had also been reassured by Amtrak employee Mike Jackson and a conductor from the Texas Eagle train earlier in the day that we would have help waiting for us in Bakersville but we received zero help carrying our baggage.
As we approached the commuter train we were told we had to walk an additional 40 yards to another coach. We struggled that forty yards to the coach and my Mom asked the brakeman, Mr. T. Gibb (or Gibbings), who was standing by the door, for help. He openly laughed at my 79 year old Mother's request for help, which caused her to cry. My Mom leaned down to pick up a bag and she fell over, but Mr. Gibb, the brakeman, did nothing to help. The brakeman saw that my Mom was on oxygen but he displayed zero empathy and he offered zero help. The brakeman (from his badge on his shirt) didn't help one bit. He also said that no bags could be checked and they would have to be brought on board. No Amtrak employee offered any help with our baggage. The brakeman blurted out to everyone "you only have six minutes to get the baggage on the ramp right now!"
We had to carry all of our luggage onto the train ourselves as the brakeman just stood there chuckling. I have never experienced such a callous, unfriendly, and unhelpful person in my life as I have with that brakeman. Once aboard the commuter train we had no place to put our baggage. When that same brakeman came by I complained to him that we never received any help and he joked again.
When I said something about his uncaring and arrogant responses to my Mother he then threatened to have me thrown off the train, leaving my 79 year old Mother, who was on oxygen, on the train to fend for herself. His exact words were "I could have the train stopped and have you put out in a field!" He said this immediately after I mentioned my displeasure with him laughing at my Mom while on the loading dock earlier.
Everytime my Mom tried to talk, the brakeman very rudely talked over her drowning out what she was trying to say. This caused my Mom to be frustrated and she cried again our of frustration and for failing to be heard. This was certainly not FIRST CLASS treatment. It was more like being treated as a prisoner. No one in any class should have been treated so inhumanly as we were by the brakeman. Under no circumstances should that brakeman be allowed to be among the public. His arrogant, bullying attacks on us were deplorable. An Amtrak cook came by and told us that we deserved a dinner but the brakeman said "We don't get a dinner!"
On this commuter train from Palm Springs to Sacramento we weren't offered, or given, any meals. We were told by one of the conductors that we would have to pay for any food or drinks. Because we were both very hungry we ended up buying snacks and drinks at a cost of $12.50. This is another incidence where Amtrak refused to live up to its advertised claims. We were promised meals but Amtrak failed to honor its advertised claims. We not only received anything to eat but we were NEVER treated like FIRST CLASS passengers even once. We were treated like cattle being pushed aboard a train on the way to slaughter. We have never been treated in such a atrotious and extremely rude manner in our lives.
I had planned the trip from Dallas to Seattle with my Mom and it was imperative that we be in a cabin the entire way. My Mom has to do breathing treatments twice a day with a plug in machine that makes a lot of noise. Because of being ripped off of a train and put on buses and commuter trains my Mom missed several breathing treatments. This made her even more fatigued and the trip one of misery and fatigue, rather than enjoyable.
Before departure from Seattle we were offered no breakfast meals by Amtrak. Because my Mother was very hungry and thirsty I walked all around the downtown area of Seattle for a place to buy food. I finally found a place and paid $14.78 for two breakfasts with coffees for my Mom and I. On May 15th we departed from Seattle on Train Number 11 at 10 in the morning. Amtrak advertised that we were to arrive in Los Angeles on May 16th at 9 in the evening. That also proved to be false advertising.
After many hours on the southbound train we pulled over on a side track and stopped for a long time. We weren't told why were were stopping for quite awhile. Then we were told that the current crew on our train had exceeded 12 hours and they could work no longer. So we waited in the woods for a substitute crew to show up at great inconvenience to Amtrak passengers. We had no idea how long it would take before the new crew arrived and no one with Amtrak had the courtesy of informing us how long we would have to wait.
I saw nothing outside of our window except brush and trees so I really anticipated a replacement Amtrak crew hacking their way through the brush with machettes to get to the train. It is inconceivable that Amtrak couldn't have a replacement crew already at the rendexvous point so they wouldn't inconvenience the passengers by further delaying the trip. It was obvious that Amtrak couldn't care less about making passengers wait long periods of time.
I suppose it is a good thing that Amtrak is not in charge of our airlines. Given Amtrak's procedures I suppose on a trip to Hawaii that after a crew had put in their maximum 12 hours that they would just stop working and land the airplane in the Pacific Ocean to wait for a replacement crew to be flown in and replace the current workers. Ludicrous yes, but so is the way that Amtrak runs its business. It is apparent from each of Amtrak's actions that they couldn't care less about consumers.
Note: That evening we had dinner and ordered two bottles of wine with it. We had read in Amtrak advertisements that we would have complimentary wine drinks for dinner. When they were delivered to us we were charged $20.00. Because we were convinced that there would be no charge for the wine we are requesting a refund of the $20.00.
At one stop the man in charge of the diner came by our room and told us we only had five minutes to get off the train. He said because the train was very, very late that we would have to leave our room, detrain and go to another train, followed by a trip by bus in order to catch the train we should have been on. We had just woke up and we frantically scrambled around trying to pack all of our things. My Mom became very worried and out of breath. Within five more minutes a female Amtrak attendant came to our room and told us that we don't have to get off the train and that we should stay on the train until we got to Los Angeles.
We were very confused and didn't know what to do. We were overtaken with uncertainty. The attendant left and came back another ten minutes later and told us that the man in charge of the diner had called her derogatory names for talking with us. But she was right and the man from the diner was wrong. He made our morning a living hell of high anxiety. We still were never sure whether we should have gotten off or not. So much for a schedule, or rather a complete lack of one.
LOS ANGELES AMTRAK STATION
We arrived in the Los Angeles Amtrak station about 7 in the morning. I immediately went to the Amtrak customer service desk. The line was extraordinarily long. Everyone was upset. After leaving for a brief moment to help my Mother, I went back to the customer service desk and asked what the supervisor was doing to get our airline tickets. Ms. Pouge said "I don't know, I am not responsible." That quote by Ms. Pouge is a standard response from Amtrak employees. Almost everyone we asked at Amtrak said the same thing, "I am not responsible". Such widespread responses by Amtrak employees indicate that this attitude permeates every person at Amtrak, and for it to be so ingrained in the culture in Amtrak such a feeling must come from everyone who runs the train. Our experience clearly showed that consumers were considered a nuisance rather than a resource.
At one time we waited for Mr. Villamor to return with airline tickets so we could leave. He returned once and said the tickets are ready. He left and then I talked to another Amtrak employee and she said that our tickets weren't ready. We were lied to by Mr. Villamor. Curiously, the person at the front desk called a woman, Ms. Shezel a manager. I found out later that Mr. Villamor was the manager and Ms. Shezel was the supervisor. Everyone at the customer desk lied to us about who was in charge. When I asked Ms. Pouge where Ms. Shezel's office was she said she didn't know. She said Ms. Shezel was in her office but Ms. Pouge said she didn't know where her office was. Ms. Pouge obviously lied to me and if she really didn't know where her superior's office was then she is incompetent.
When we were in Los Angeles On May 17, 2004 on the return trip I stood in line for an hour and when I finally got to the desk the Amtrak representative said that the
manager knows you are here". Why couldn't that person just make an announcement and not force everyone to needlessly wait in a long line. I told the woman at the desk that it is rude when someone knowing lets people wait. She said, the manager has been doing this for 10 years so she has been abusing people for ten years. We found out later that the 'manager' she referred to was not a manager, but a supervisor. And if she had been 'doing this' for ten years then she should have been there to help people.
And if she has been doing this for "ten years" that means that Amtrak is well aware of the ongoing problem but is doing nothing to stop it. And by being extremely late during that entire period without any warnings in Amtrak's advertisements of routine long delays it is false advertising. There is nothing in Amtrak advertising to warn consumers of their routine long delays. There is nothing in Amtrak advertisements that says they routinely force people to be taken off of trains and put on buses and airplanes. By not placing warnings in Amtrak advertisements when such occurances are routine, it is false and deceptive advertising and a violation of federal and state laws.
After sparring with the Amtrak supervisor and manager in the Los Angeles station we were finally given airline tickets aboard America West flight 160, (800) 235 9292, to fly back to Dallas, with a stopover in Phoenix. During our long wait in Los Angeles Amtrak station, the Los Angeles Airport, and the Phoenix Airport we incurred the following charges for food and beverages: ELS Union Station: $5.09, Station Restaurant: $25.65, ELS Union Station: $1.25, Union Bagel: $3.50, Union Bagel: $1.50. During our wait in the Los Angeles Airport we incurred the following charges for food and beverages: Boudin's: $20.21. While in Phoenix airport we paid the following for meals: Burger King: $6.37.
When we first asked for airline flights at the Amtrak customer service desk we were given the run-around by Ms. Pouge and then Mr. Leonard. It was obvious that the Amtrak representative, a woman, had no intention of helping us. She was rude and abrupt and acted like it was a great inconvenience to her to have to even talk with us. There certainly was no empathy for us. She didn't care that my 79 year old Mom was on oxygen. We asked for breakfast but the Amtrak representative said we would have to pay for it ourselves. I finally found a place in the station and bought a breakfast for my Mom and I. That cost us $25.65 and Amtrak is responsible for reimbursing us. Had Amtrak been on schedule we would have received a breakfast on board the train.
Ms. Pough told me that Amtrak would only pay to get us to Dallas airport. She said that was our destination. I said it was NOT our destination. I told her that the Amtrak station in Dallas IS our destination and that it is Amtrak's responsibility to get my Mother and I to that destination. It was obvious that Ms. Pough had no intention of getting us to our destination. We had to battle Amtrak representatives at every turn. It is obvious that their agenda is to discourage as many people as possible from getting what they need to get to their homes. This type of behavior is obviously ingrained in all Amtrak employees because we were met with the same type behavior every time we made a request of an Amtrak employee.
My Mom and I waited and waited more than five hours. I kept going to the Amtrak customer service desk and every time I got a different answer to my questions. I was told that the manager was working on our flight reservations but that was not true. When I finally saw the supervisor she said that she couldn't find a flight for us.
I then spoke to a Mr. Leonard who identified himself as the manager. I asked him for a list of the phone numbers to airlines and he said he would return very soon with them. He never returned with the airline numbers. It was obvious that he was also not working on getting my Mom and I airline tickets. Had he been trying he would have had a list of the airlines and immediately returned. He did not.
I immediately requested phone numbers from Ms. Shezel for every airline out of Los Angeles and she came back a half hour later and said that she made a reservation. She obviously didn't tell us the truth about the list of airlines because if she had she could have just given them to us. The fact is she didn't have any airline numbers or had any intention of making a reservation for us.
All through this ordeal my Mom was in great discomfort sitting on a wooden bench and breathing her oxygen. Minute after minute, hour after hour, the time kept going on and on. When I told Ms. Shezel, the supposed Amtrak supervisor, that I would call an airline and get reservations she returned in thirty minutes with reservations. It was obvious she was lying to us about having airline phone numbers when we first asked her.
The reason I took my Mom for a trip by train was because my Mom experiences bad anxiety attacks when she is aboard a plane. Because of this I upgraded our flight accommodations on the American West Flight 160 to Dallas, via Phoenix, to first class at a cost of an additional $100.00 to fly the first leg of our return trip. Amtrak owes this amount because my Mother was forced to fly home. My Mom did fairly well on the flight from Los Angeles to the next stop in Phoenix because she had extra room and it was a short flight. But then we had to deplane and get on a new America West plane in the coach section. This was cramped and my Mother experienced an extreme anxiety attack causing her to be low on oxygen. I wanted to upgrade to first class but there were no seats available. My Mother would not have experienced this extreme anxiety attack had she been on the train. Amtrak should be responsible for the additional $100.00 upgrade for the first leg of our flight back to Dallas.
Once back to Dallas airport we had to find a way to get to the Amtrak Station where our car was. The Amtrak supervisor, Ms. Shezel, in Los Angeles gave us $75 for the taxi fare to the Amtrak Station. The final fare came to $93 so Amtrak owes us an additional $18.00 for the extra cost to get to our destination.
The Saturday after returning home we were forced to drive back to the Dallas Amtrak station to pick up a package that was with the late train that left two days later. The trip from Paris, where my Mom lives, to Dallas is 243 miles. With gas at $2.12 a gallon and our car that gets 15 miles per gallon, Amtrak owes us $34.34 for the gas. Of course, this amount doesn't compensate us for our five hour trip back and forth to Dallas from Paris.
Amtrak states in their advertisements: "Along with your Sleeping car accommodations comes personalized service. Your attendant will help you with you baggage and turn down your bed at night, wake you up with coffee and the paper in the morning, and make up your room while you are at breakfast. You'll enjoy special seating and complimentary meals in the Dining car...or your attendant will serve you in your room." This advertised claim is totally false. We never received a newspaper, we were never woke up with coffee, and we did not enjoy special seating in the dining car.
While making our reservations we were assured by Amtrak representatives that Amtrak offered very tight security. What we experienced while passengers was just the opposite. Anyone could have stolen our baggage at every stop the train made. And anyone could have just walked on the train and planted a bomb. My Mother and I worried constantly about the integrity of our possessions stowed below and because any unsavory or dangerous person could get on the train without even being challenged. Amtrak offered zero security.
In all of your advertised literature you list your schedules to and from locations. Let me remind you that a schedule is defined as "an ordered list of times at which things are planned to occur", a "plan for an activity or event" or "make a schedule; plan the time and place for events". Amtrak schedules are non-existent. Even one of your employees laughed when he was asked about Amtrak schedules. She went on to say that "Amtrak has only been on time only once in the past year." Since you knowingly took reservations giving out schedules you knew you could not honor you have participated in false advertising and also violated several federal and state consumer laws.
In your advertisements you tout traveling by train as "adventurous, educational, relaxing and fun". You failed on all four counts. Amtrak 'sells' the journey as being an adventure but Amtrak has made the 'journey' grueling, tiresome, and filled with negative uncertainties.
Your advertisements also say that "Amtrak will give you something much more valuable than a pleasurable ride...they will give you your time back." Amtrak can never give me the time back that was filled with worry, fatigue, struggle, and poor to non-existent service. But you can, and you will, refund the entire amount of our trip, plus extra expenses that we had to incur including food, taxi travel, gasoline, and flight upgrades. This is the very least that Amtrak can do to right a terrible wrong perpetrated on my Mother and I by Amtrak and its employees.
We looked at our trip with so much anticipation, but that anticipation soon turned into one of the worst ordeals of our lives. I had so wanted to make this trip one for my Mother to remember, but because of Amtrak, and its representatives, it became a trip we both wish we could forget. You robbed my Mother and I of a wonderful time that can never again be replaced. I paid a small fortune for a train trip that turned into a trip from hell. In effect, I paid a great deal of my hard earned money for me and my Mother to be abused by Amtrak.
Your Amtrak slogan "What a difference a train makes" should be replaced with "Amtrak, the Twilight Zone of Trips"
SUMMARY OF CHARGES TO BE CREDITED BY AMTRAK
$22.95 VeteransAdvantage card, Amtrak Code# 9700599633
$306.00 Ticket 1
$306.00 Ticket 2
$12.50 Commuter Car Food Charges
$14.78 Seattle Breakfast
$5.09 Snack ELS Union Station
$20.00 Wine During Dinner
$25.65 Meal Station Restaurant
$1.25 Snack ELS Union Station
$3.50 Snack Union Bagel
$1.50 Snack Union Bagel
$20.21 Meal Boudin's
$6.37 Burger King
$100.00 Flight Upgrade on American West
$18.00 Taxi Fee from Dallas Airport to Amtrak station not compensated
$34.34 Gasoline bill to pick up package from Amtrak
$3,582.14 TOTAL TO BE REIMBURSED TO CUSTOMERS
I would appreciate your understanding, assistance, and cooperation in righting all of the wrongs perpetrated by Amtrak and its representatives against my Mother and I.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 06/10/2004 04:29 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/amtrak/washington-dc-district-of-columbia-20002/am-trak-malicious-false-and-misleading-advertising-washington-dc-district-of-columbia-94444. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content
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