Fun, fun taking Amtrak. Rated XXXXtremely unhappy.

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by SomewhereOutThere, Jul 20, 2015.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    So this is the second time I took Amtrak down to see Bart and Junior and for the second time in a row, they canceled my train ride going home. Yes, twice in two months. The reason? Track repair. The solution?

    Well, it wasn't a great solution, but I decided to put up with it anyway to see mostly Junior. I would have had to have had Bart drive me to downtown St. Louis's Amtrak station by 4:45am. Yes. AM. And then I'd board a BUS, not a train, to a train station in Bloomington (I think that's the city). Then we all get off and board a train, when it comes. Then we are taken to Chicago. Then from there mostly just me takes another train to get to Milwaukee. Most stay in Chicago. Then I take my final train to Mid-Wisconsin. I get in at 6:30 unless they are late and they are always late. But I was ok with that. There is no easy way for me to see Bart and Junior unless I drive my old car ten hours and I am the Queen of Getting Lost. So it didn't happen. Never will. And that isn't even the worst part. Here is the worst part.

    On Tuesday I dutifully caught the right train from mid-Wisconsin to Chicago. It was two hours later than it was supposed to be. It starts in Washington State. So I caught the train at a much later time then was scheduled. This happened last time too so we were alert to watching the schedule. Once I got on, it was ok. I relaxed and took out my kindle to read. Nothing unusual happened until my seatmate, who was also going to St. Louis, called Amtrak to ask when the train was due in to Chicago because the train had fallen behind schedule. We had originally been told that we had a four hour layover in Chicago before the St. Louis train came. It was cut to two hours when the train was late, but I wasn't really worried. Last time, it did get behind and we ended up having to run to catch the St. Louis train, but we made it in time. I figured two hours gave us plenty of time to get there, even if we only had a half an hour, like last time.

    Meanwhile the woman next to me was getting frantic, telling everyone around us (all headed for St. Louis) that the train was losing time and was scheduled to hit Chicago later and later. I tried to stay calm, but I did have a dilemma.

    Bart, who is not the most flexible kid I have, was supposed to have to stay up late, and work the next day, after picking me up in St. Louis at 12:30am. Yes. AM. On Tuesday he does not have his son so I picked coming in on a Tuesday because I knew Bart would not want Junior to be awakened in the middle of the night and he did not want Junior to be driving through a very crime riddled neighborbood at 12:30am when all the vampires and witches come out. I understood too.

    Ok. Coninuing. As we got closer and closer to the Milwaukee station, which is on the way, the hysterical woman beside me, who also had no ride if the train was late and would have been stranded in Chicago, was in tears, telling everyone that the train was now only scheduled to make Chicago by six minutes before seven and that customer relations in Chicago would not hold the train and had no plans for a bus chartered to take us to St. Louis if we missed our connection. But not to worry. They would put us up in a hotel overnight with $10 for food. Um, yeah. I called Bart. He said "there is no way I can take Junior through that neighborhood on Wed. night. It's too dangerous and too late. I'm sorry." Understand this. Bart had no options. His girlfriend was working so he had nobod to watch Junior. He is not social. He does not have friends. He has zero guys he hangs with. So there is nobody. Junior would have to come and it is a dangerous area.

    Now I have to make a quick decision. Do I continue onto Chicago, where my daughter and her husband live, take a Metro to their house, then stay there until my husband can pick me up? I can't go to St. Louis. Out of the question since the only train on Wednesday leaves at 7:00 pm and Bart has nobody to babysit for Junior to get me at the same 12:30am in High Crime Area St. Louis. So I'm either stranded in Chicago with a surprise visit to Princess until my husband can get me. I could do it, but it would be a few days and I felt as big imposition on them in their little home. Then I call husband and he tells me one of the cars is broken down. YIKES!!!!! Being a mechanic, he will work on it, but he couldn't get me until it's fixed. Jumper would have to drive down in her car to get me from Princesses house and then drive right back. She has work. All in all, it was a shitola option which was not good.

    Meanwhile sobbing lady beside me calls Amtrak Customer Relations, as she was told to do by another Amtrak phone agent, to find out if the plans changed since by now we were sure we were going to miss our connection. Any bus? I took matters into my own hands, as we sped toward Milwaukee, and climbed down the stairs to find a worker. I actually found one of the conductors and spoke to him and he said, "I promise there will be a bus. This is not right." I asked him if he could actually promise. He said, "Well, I would hope there would be a bus there." He backed off. So I have Customer Relations saying no way a bus and Conductor saying he will make sure there is a bus.

    By then I was emotionally drained and frightened of being stranded either in Chicago or St. Louis. And since Bart was no help, I just decided "I can't go. I'll go another day. Screw it. I'll get off at the Milwaukee stop where at least my husband can pick me up because it's not THAT far and I can go home. Yes, I will cry because I want to see Junior, but the time is wrong. These all must be signs from my higher power and angels. Don't go now. Maybe St. Louis is going to have mega-storms. GET OFF."

    In Milwaukee, dragging my luggage, tears in my eyes, I got off with the other Milwaukee station people. The conductor was yelling after me, "You're getting off HERE?" I didn't answer.

    Tired, I pulled my wheeled luggage into the Amtrak station, but...lo and behold...aha!!!!!

    I was right in front of a Greyhound station.

    I had never heard a good word about Greyhound, but I wanted to get to St. Louis so I went up to the empty-of-customer ticket counter and asked, rather timidly, if there was a bus tonight that would get me to St. Louis.

    There was a bus heading just there...St. two hours. I called hub and told him, getting my hopes up but not to high. He told me to get the tickets. Very cheap round trip, by the way. $99.00. I had to use my charge card, which I hated, but I bought the ticket and waited, called Bart, told him I would be there tomorrow at 8:30am.

    Well, there's a problem. Again. He was leaving for work at 7 and had to lock the door. I'm not sure why he couldn't hav eleft it unlocked f or a few hours. He is in a very low crime area with nice neighbors, but he is rather paranoid at times (part of his anxiety...not making fun of him)...he felt he had to lock the door so again...stalemate. Finally I asked him, if I took a cab (another charge on my card) could he put his key under the mat in front of the house? He was very hesitant to do that because "you never know" and he has an electronic's junkies fantasy house. I waited until he finally siad he would do it.

    I got off the phone, leaned back, and shut my eyes. I HAD A PLAN.

    It worked too. I did get there.

    Greyhound was fine except that I had a seatmate who had boozy smells coming out of his pores, like stale whiskey, but that was ok. I just kept my nose from know how you can do that. Got there on time. Cab was right outside the b uilding. Didn't even have to call one. Expect $100 cab bill. Only had to pay $60. It wasn't half as far a ride as Bart let on, but he doesn't really have much of a sense of direction either, like me.

    I fumbled for the key under the mat and found it, almost kissed it, and let myself in. I WAS THERE!!!!!!!

    Wow. I made it. Unreal. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!!

    So after Greyhound takes me home from my vacation on Sunday, I decide I'll call Amtrak to see if I can get a refund. In the past they had given me one, but I heard they were not doing that so much now (wonder why) and did not really want credit I'd never use, but wanted to report the incident anyway.

    Monday (today) i called and after waiting for a half hour to get a real person and then being transferred and waiting another fifteen minutes to get a real person I had Costumer Relations. I explained what had happened in a tired voice. He grilled me. "You did know that there was a bus waiting in Chicago, right?" I told him no, I had been told there may or may not be a bus and couldn't risk it as the conductor was saying one thing and Chicago's Amtrak people were saying, no, we were stayiing overnight. I explained why Wednesday would not have worked for me and that is why I had booked for Tuesday.

    He ignored me and said, "But there was a bus there."

    I told him I hadn't knwon.

    He said that they couldn't tell me for sure if they didn't know for sure.

    I told him that is why I got off at Milwaukee and felt I may need a ride home. Because I didn't want to be stranded in St. Louis.

    I don't think he really got it.

    In the end, he gave guessed it...a credit for my next ride on Amtrak.

    Does anyone want a free ticket from Amtrak? I'm never going to use it.

    And that concludes my story.

    Questions you may have and the answers:

    SWOT, why didn't you fly????

    Answer: It was too expensive to fly. Period.

    SWOT, did you have fun after all that once you got there?

    Answer: Yes! However, I had no car and in Bart's subdivision there is absolutely no place to walk for a fun time...not even a park. So Junior and I had to create fun things to do at home. A few included a pillow fight, hide the toys, hide and go seek, a cool watergun fight, me trying pathetically to pitch to him while he whacked the ball, a walk around in which we counted all of the dead worms we found and watching a few crazy, funny movies. So, yeah, it was worth it, b ut I have no plans to go back anytime soon. It's just too hard to get there.

    I love my little man. He is such a tall, handsome smart with good athletic ability and lots of friends. I will Skype him each time he is with Bart. But I can't do the hard traveling all the time.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    But... next time you'll just go Greyhound, right? And if you plan it right, the timing should also work better, to mesh with what works for Bart.

    We use our equivalent of Greyhound, especially for one-way trips (such as to retrieve a vehicle). It's the "blue-collar limo". And yes, they are usually relatively close to on-time - and will hold connections and/or have alternate routes set up if something major happens (like getting caught behind a traffic accident).
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Yes, IC. I will use Greyhound, but there are no alternative routes unfortunately.
  4. nerfherder

    nerfherder Active Member

    If it's a free ticket, some specific dollar value, good for anyone, maybe you can get a few bucks for it with Craig's List. Cut your losses.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I could do that, but I'd feel bad giving an Amtrak ticket to I wouldn't charge anyone anything.
  6. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    Awesome stick to it ness. (Not sure how to write that exactly!)
    Wonderful that the bus was available like that.
    Sad to hear about these problems with Amtrack.
    Maybe you could sell the ticket for a little discount ... A good deal for someone and a good deed by you. A blessing for another family. Double check that it's transferable.
    eBay sounds good.
    Glad you had a nice visit!
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I've done Craigslist a lot,both buying and selling, and have had no problems. We meet at busy shopping centers.
    Ebay is more of a hassell because you have to send it out.
    I'm not sure what I'll do with it.I have to see how much free riding time I get and if it is only to St.Louis...ugh.
    I am quite willing to give it away to somebody needy to has to travel. n
  8. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Give it as a gift to somebody you don't like, maybe?
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

  10. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I am appalled. What a rotten thing to have happened to you, SWOT. It's the idea of being stranded somewhere with $10 for dinner. You didn't need $10 for dinner or a hotel room near a train station in a strange city where you don't want to be.

    It's a question of your time, and of the way you were made to feel.

    I am going to tell everyone I know about your experience.

    This is terrible. And then, you were treated badly by Amtrak Customer Service and tossed a free ticket.

    This whole thing was terrible. You should write to your paper's editorial page with this experience and it's outcome.

    It's almost more offensive to have been treated the way you were by Amtrak customer service than what happened to start with. Is there not a legal obligation on their part to get you where you paid to go when they said they would get you there?

    How awful.

    What a terrible way for your trip to begin.

    The only bright spot here is that you will know never to send Junior by Amtrak when he is old enough to travel to your house.

    And I think Bart behaved badly, too.

    In future, could D H drive six hours and Bart drive four to begin the visit, and the reverse for you to go home?

    That is the only way I would do it. I am so upset for you about that Amtrak ride.

  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Cedar. I feel exactly t he same. Unfortunately, our paper is for a very small amount of people and I don't want to do it anyway. It's too tiring.

    In the future, when I go to Missouri, I will take Greyhound. It's a lot better and they don't just run one route all day long. husband isn't going to want to drive ten hours and neither do I.
  12. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Get Bart to cut you an extra house key, so he doesn't have to leave it under the mat...
  13. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    I have to confess--

    when I saw that quadruple X, I thought you had a x-rated incident on Amtrack!

    At least it wasn't THAT!
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    That is on the table, IC. Thanks for the reminder. I'll tell him again. He tends to forget things like that.
  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I think you need to find the Pres/CEO of Amtrak's phone # and give them a call. NOT cust svc, as apparently they are incredibly inept, but the actual corporate Big Cheese. Once you get them, go through what you told us, only cry a bit if you can (usually not too hard as you relive the trauma of an incident like this, esp with possibly missing seeing your grandson), and let them know that if they do not do something to make it right, then you will let everyone you know and everyone THEY know, see how horrible AMTRAK is and how they traumatized you.

    This 'Amtrak credit' stuff is nonsense and it was not at all an unreasonable request to ask for your $$ back in actual $$. Given how no one seemed to CARE, and no one could give you an answer, Amtrak should pay you back for your Amtrak ticket, your Greyhound ticket, and your cab ride, because they caused you to incur those expenses. I don't know if you would get those, but you should at least get your ticket $ back for the Amtrak ticket.

    I am sorry you had to go through all of that. At least you got to see your grandson! Bart is ridiculous - cannot tell you how many times I went to work on no sleep after picking my folks up at 1 am from an airport 2 hrs away. No way would I strand them! And if they took a bus? I would esp pick them up, no matter what, because their lives are precious. But Bart has super rigid thinking so I guess you have to just expect him to to handle changes well.

    I am glad YOU were safe and got to see your son & grandson.
  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'll think about it, but for $150 I'm not sure it's worthy my own anguish.
  17. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    That's what they're counting on.

    I would definitely do it. I am appalled at the callous disregard of your health and safety and happiness.

    I am.

    Just put the phone on speaker so you can go about your business until you finally get a list of name and addresses and email addresses.

    Someone will answer with the respect and apology you merit.

  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    The problem is the amount or time it takes to get an agent. You know how it is. You get one person after the automated woman named Julie (lol) talks to you and then you wait 15 min. to talk to somebody. Then you get transferred and wait another fifteen minutes, or so thi s has been my experience. Then you find out it's not the right dept. and get transferred again and get cut off!!!! Now you have to start over again.Baaaaaaaaaah. I did this a lot last week because I had no choice.
    Then when I finally get Customer Relations the guy acts like it's my fault that I couldn't guess they'd have a bus all ready to go when I got to Chicago, even though they had not known if they would or would not, or any details about a bus if there would be one, as in what time it would arrive in St. Louis. By the time I got to Milwaukee, which was a good three hours already, the people I had been told to call (at least the last time I called) were from Chicago and had told me they had no current plans for a bus and would put me up overnight and then I could catch the next train, which would be the next night at 7pm and would arrive in St. Louis again at 12:45am. Bart had already told me he would not drive to St. Louis in a bad neighborhood (which it is...high crime) at 12:30am with his son. Tuesday his son was with the mother so he could do it. Wednesday, which was the day they were planning on giving me a day late sendoff, he had his son. What a mess. I just wanted to go home so I had to get off at Milwaukee or I'd have no ride to get home.When I got off at the Milwaukee Amtrak station there was also a Greyhound Station so I took a chance and asked if they had a bus going to St. Louis. THEY DID!!!! So I paid for a round trip and went that way or else I was all set to postpone this vacation, but I wanted to see Junior before school started on Aug. 18th.

    Although I did call Customer Relations when I got home (the next day) to try to explain this, the guy was not sympathetic. He kept interrupting and saying, "But there WAS a bus in Chicago." I told him they had told me when I called Chicago that there would be no bus, but he kept interrupting and saying, "Well, then maybe you should have gone to Chicago. Do you understand that you would have had a bus?"

    It was like dealing with my FOO on a bad day and I'm frankly worn out tryiing to find who to talk to and then trying to tell the complications of this story all over again. I feel it is in my best mental health interests to let the dang money go and just not use Amtrak ever again. You all know if I call I will not get the head guy in Amtrak. I will get another gatekeeper and will have to retell the story until I feel likeI'm living it over again. Emotional flashback :)

    Just writing about it makes me tired!!!

    I wouldn't even know what number to call.

    So I'm getting a "credit" for another Amtrak ride and I may just have a little fun and burn it with D H. Nothing could get me on an Amtrak train to Missouri again. Both times, on top of them almost missing the connection the first time too, they have canceled my Sunday train as well because of track repair.

    Me: Why would you sell a ticket and then do track repair?

    Them: We don't own the tracks. It's not up to us.

    Great. So they had scheduled a bus (yes, a bus) at the Amtrak Station to take us stragglers to Bloomington IL where we'd catch a train to Chicago where I'd catch another train to Mid-Wisconsin. Fun, fun, fun. Who knows if there would be layovers or any more missed connections?

    Greyhound was very smooth. They were there on time. They were no less comfortable than Amtrak. There are more than one bus every day that goes to different cities so if you happen to miss a connection it is not the end of the world.

    Please, everyone.

    Don't go Amtrak unless you like the excitement of not knowing if you'll make your destination on time or not ;)
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  19. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member


    i so feel for you! We took Amtrak many, many years ago to Boston. Each train was late. We arrived very tired and very dirty. I swore to never, ever go Amtrak again.

    Lately, I had been thinking about how cool a Amtrak trip across country sounds.

    Reading about your experience has me thinking, naaaah.

    Amtrak should work much harder. It would be a great way to travel and see the country if they just would!

    I am so sorry you had to deal with that.