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Compensation for Service Disruption Possibility?


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#21 DET63

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 06:19 PM

$2200? Suck it up.

Would travel insurance have helped in a situation like this, or is it only useful for medical emergencies or the like that may occur while traveling?

#22 AferVentus

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 06:59 PM

I am not expecting 2200 dollars - I would never expect an airline to do vice versa but how about a "sorry for something out of our control, but here is a voucher for future travel." However maybe the taxi would be something for reimbursement. Thoughts on the letter asking for either $200 for the taxi or a voucher for future travel?

#23 Blackshirt Husker

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 07:54 PM

If you make the arrangements through Amtrak Guest Services, they are unbelievably helpful. I recently missed a connecting train in Chicago because the Empire Builder came in a couple hours late. Guest Services said that there was no alternative transportation that night, but gave me a voucher for meal service (dinner and breakfast), made hotel accommodations and round-trip taxi fare (about 45 minutes outside of Chicago, closest they could find on New Years but a hefty taxi fare if it hadn't been covered). The hotel accommodations were not Motel 6 quality, either- Amtrak clearly went out of its way to find a very nice hotel to compensate for the inconvenience, and I was more than satisfied.

Sometimes I think one of the worst jobs in the world must be to sit behind the desk of one of those Amtrak Guest Service centers. They deal with angry, hostile customers day after day yelling at them when, not only are the delays not their fault, but 95% of the time it's not even Amtrak's fault since passenger rail is completely at the mercy of the freight companies that own the tracks. They do their best to help, but most of the time people are so bent on blaming and complaining that they won't acknowledge what is actually far better service than they'd receive in similar situations were they traveling by plane or bus.

I agree with others that you'll probably lose your money since you went outside of Amtrak to make your own arrangements, but when it comes to giving up railroad travel, you should reconsider. Amtrak is a throwback--it may not always be the fastest or most organized, but it is a reminder of a time when people didn't have to rush, rush, rush. If you absolutely need to be at Point A by 8:37 AM with only a 5 minute buffer before your appointment, then Amtrak long distance is probably not the way to go (although the shorter routes do have a much higher and more reliable on-time rate), but if you have a little bit of a cushion between estimated arrival and whatever you need to do, there just isn't a better way to travel than by train.

Finally, I do think you're likely to have better luck by phone than by letter. I could see the letter taking weeks and weeks to be processed, but sometimes a favorable result by phone just depends on which agent you speak to. If you don't like their response, I would definitely call back. Good luck!

Edited by Dwight K. Schrute, 06 January 2011 - 07:59 PM.

Amtrak Routes Traveled: Three Rivers, Silver Palm, Piedmont, Northeast Regional, California Zephyr, Keystone, Southwest Chief, Lakeshore Limited, Carl Sandburg, Illinois Zephyr, Empire Builder, Texas Eagle, Ethan Allen Express, Pacific Surfliner, Sunset Limited, Coast Starlight, Wolverine. Wish list: Cascades, Cardinal. Lifetime Rail Miles Traveled: 46,828 (and counting).

#24 anir dendroica

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 09:12 PM

I was on the first westbound EB after the meltdown, and I heard a lot of stories from folks who had had their train canceled, or for those poor souls on #7(31), gotten an overnight ride to Fargo and back to their point of origin. Of course no one found the experience pleasant, but all in all I was surprised that few folks were overly upset, and most were willing to accept that winter happens. Kudos to Amtrak for adding two cars to the train (an extra coach for both 7 and 27, I think) to accommodate folks like me whose trains were canceled. And kudos to the Amtrak agent who transferred my low-bucket reservation to the next available train without charging me the current high-bucket price.

Our train was 2.5 hours late into Portland/Seattle after a BNSF freight ran a signal and went through a switch lined against it between Havre and Shelby, MT, forcing MOW to examine the switch and test it with a freight before letting us cross at 10 mph. More kudos to Amtrak for chartering an extra bus to run from Portland to Salem/Albany/Eugene for those of us who missed our southbound connections.

Mark

#25 AlanB

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 11:53 PM

Would travel insurance have helped in a situation like this, or is it only useful for medical emergencies or the like that may occur while traveling?


Generally most travel insurance policies would have covered something like this. Of course those policies can be expensive, and in fact Amtrak now offers such insurance when you buy online these days.
Alan,

Take care and take trains!

#26 AlanB

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 11:56 PM

I am not expecting 2200 dollars - I would never expect an airline to do vice versa but how about a "sorry for something out of our control, but here is a voucher for future travel." However maybe the taxi would be something for reimbursement. Thoughts on the letter asking for either $200 for the taxi or a voucher for future travel?


There is always a chance if you write a polite letter that includes documentation of your expenses and requests some consideration in the form of a voucher, that Amtrak may well give you something.

But I wouldn't go into it expecting that you'll actually get something, as again, technically Amtrak owes you nothing more than the fare you originally paid them.
Alan,

Take care and take trains!

#27 jis

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 07:14 AM

We would have been there from Saturday until (if space allowed) Tuesday - a 72 hour delay. Perhaps what you're suggesting is that amtrak shouldn't run on the high line in winter. (I see no reason why they shouldn't and I see safety should always come first. So I don't disagree with the line being shut down - I disagree with their handling of service disruptions.)

When you get stuck in the sticks due to a force majeur, that is what happens.

On 9/11 many passengers got stuck in Gander, Newfoundland for a few days. Heck, even I got stuck in Toronto for a few days and finally drove back. The airline just refunded the ticket. When people get stuck on mountain highways due to avalanche, they get stuck until roads are cleared and rebuilt to be passable. It happens.

Best way to avoid such situations is not to travel.

Could you specifically tell us how you would have handled the service disruption if you were in charge? Since you disagree with the handling I think this is a fair question. Best regards.

#28 AferVentus

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 01:55 PM

When you get stuck in the sticks due to a force majeur, that is what happens.

On 9/11 many passengers got stuck in Gander, Newfoundland for a few days. Heck, even I got stuck in Toronto for a few days and finally drove back. The airline just refunded the ticket. When people get stuck on mountain highways due to avalanche, they get stuck until roads are cleared and rebuilt to be passable. It happens.

Best way to avoid such situations is not to travel.

Could you specifically tell us how you would have handled the service disruption if you were in charge? Since you disagree with the handling I think this is a fair question. Best regards.

That is a very fair question - I think they could have at least said that they could put us in a hotel for a couple nights. A flight would be nice, but isn't taking Amtrak the way to get away from the airlines? Why does this happen to Chicago passengers, but not too many other places? If I read correctly in the Star Tribune, the passengers for MSP had to go to Chicago to have a hotel.
I know Amtrak is (usually) poorly funded, but I didn't see us getting out of there on the first available train - our train and the next day's were very full. There probably weren't enough cars to bring all of the people east. If they had extra cars in Seattle or Portland they could just tack them on and then everyone would have been able to get out when the next train left.

This winter sure has been havoc on the highline, so maybe having buses ready in short notice in a situation like this as a precaution would be in amtrak's interest?

I hope nobody here thinks I won't travel Amtrak again - I am just wondering what Amtrak all does in terms of vouchers like this. I'm not angry.... I'm going to write a pleasant letter stating that we did enjoy our trip out there (even though the toilets froze :lol: ) and asking if they would consider giving us a voucher for future travel.

It's great to have a wide variety of opinions on this forum, and I appreciate both views presented. Thank you.

#29 The Davy Crockett

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 03:03 PM

Let us know what happens. Okay?
I wish I was a headlight on a northbound of the border train.




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