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Opinion on our sleeper attendant


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#1 Guest_Bob_*

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 01:05 PM

Hi all I am currently on the California Zephyr with my family. First long distance train trip, going all the way from San Francisco to Chicago. About five hours to go, and I'd like some option ion on whether to tip our cabin attendant.

We have a family bedroom, and there are 4 of us. No prior experience to compare to, but I'm thinking we have a pretty poor cabin attendant - I've had to put the beds down and up both nights, and to get juice or ice I've had to go to one of the other sleeper cars. Not sure how clean the attendants are supposed to keep the bathrooms and showers, but when I showered this morning it was gross - about 7 half used soap bars scattered around the shower, and a very sketchy floor. She didn't even bother to take the soap bars out of the box and put them in the basket - just threw the open cardboard box of them on top.

In fact, the only time she sought us out to ask is a question was when she asked this morning if she could go into our room when we were at lunch, to make up the beds for the NEXT trip.

All this to say, as uncomfortable as it makes me having worked a lot in the service industry, I'm not inclined to tip her at all. Interested in agreement/disagreement if anyone happens to respond in the next 5ish hours!

#2 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 01:24 PM

I was raised by someone who worked in the service industry and depended on tips, but I wouldn't tip in this situation, at least based on how you described it. Also, unlike most service jobs SCA's don't depend on tips to make ends meet. Source: SCA's on Amtrak.

We've got provisions and lots of beer. The key word is survival on the new frontier. 


#3 PVD

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 01:24 PM

She seems to have failed to perform to the minimum reasonable expectation. At minimum, they should introduce themselves, offer to show you the features of the room, let you know about the features of the car and the train, inquire about when you want the beds down or up,  keep the bathrooms and shower clean (if possible), and let you know they are available if you need them. Ice is generally not kept out anymore so they should let you know they will get it if you need it. It is possible for someone in service to have a reason to "not get it done" like illness or personal tragedy. A reasonable expectation if that is going on is a simple (lengthy and too personal detail filled not appropriate) apology or explanation in advance.



#4 Mystic River Dragon

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 01:27 PM

Bob,

 

My experience with SCAs is that the good ones stop by your roomette/bedroom soon after you board, explain the room setup, tell you when and where coffee/juice is to be found, and ask toward evening when you would like your bed made up. The next morning, they turn your beds back into daytime seats, usually while you are at breakfast.

 

I have not been on a Superliner yet, but I assume the SCA is supposed to keep the bathrooms clean. (The Viewliners, which is what I've been on, have facilities in the rooms.)

 

Finally, you have paid for your room, and it is yours until the minute you detrain. She had absolutely no right to ask to go into your room to prep. it for the next trip, especially since she couldn't be bothered to make up your beds.

 

Put your tip money back in your pocket and go and spend it on ice cream for the four of you in Chicago. :)

 

The one good thing is that you've started with the worst--the next SCA you come across has to be better!


Edited by Mystic River Dragon, 24 August 2017 - 01:28 PM.


#5 PVD

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 01:29 PM

I have no problem expressing gratitude for personal service performed, regardless of a persons earnings. On the other hand, if the service is not performed, there is nothing to express gratitude for.....



#6 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 01:36 PM

Finally, you have paid for your room, and it is yours until the minute you detrain. She had absolutely no right to ask to go into your room to prep. it for the next trip, especially since she couldn't be bothered to make up your beds.

 
Although it can be annoying I've found that it's common for SCA's on the routes I ride to ask me to step outside so they can start making up the beds and such before we arrive at the route's terminus. Based on what I've read here on the forum they do this so they can leave the train as soon as possible when it reaches the last stop.  Personally I wish they'd wait until the passengers leave to start cleaning up but this decision was probably made a long time before I started riding in sleepers.


Edited by Devil's Advocate, 24 August 2017 - 04:32 PM.

We've got provisions and lots of beer. The key word is survival on the new frontier. 


#7 MikefromCrete

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 01:39 PM

Why would you even contemplate giving a tip to an attendant who apparently has done absolutely nothing for you? Keep your money. 



#8 Guest_Guest_*

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 01:59 PM

Thanks for the quick responses everyone! Good to know that my inclination seems to be correct. We tipped the dining staff well, so I'm comfortable we recognized service where it was deserved. Overall, a fun trip, definitely considering the coast starlight or the empire builder in the future (although, maybe with 2 roomettes rather than the family bedroom...).

#9 Johanna

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 02:05 PM

Every time I've traveled in a sleeper all the way to the end of the line, the SCA has come around just before the end of the trip to collect garbage, make up the beds, and so forth.  So I wouldn't count that part against her.  The rest of it, however, I would - she wouldn't have gotten a tip from me either.



#10 Bob Dylan

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 02:11 PM

All that EZ Rider SCA deserves is to be reported to Customer Relations for Poor Service.😣

As for the other OBS, also let AmtraK know about their Good Service, this is always appreciated by Amtrak employees,since its rare that passengers bother to Compliment Good Service!😎

And defibitely take the Coast Starlight, its a Great Trip!😙
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#11 Dakota 400

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 03:34 PM

Every time I've traveled in a sleeper all the way to the end of the line, the SCA has come around just before the end of the trip to collect garbage, make up the beds, and so forth.  So I wouldn't count that part against her.  The rest of it, however, I would - she wouldn't have gotten a tip from me either.

 

 

This poster's experience is the same as mine.  For your current SCA, do get her name so that you can inform Amtrak's Customer Service;  Customer Service will appreciate having as many specifics as possible.  As to any gratuity, none ought to be offered. 



#12 me_little_me

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 04:06 PM

 

Every time I've traveled in a sleeper all the way to the end of the line, the SCA has come around just before the end of the trip to collect garbage, make up the beds, and so forth.  So I wouldn't count that part against her.  The rest of it, however, I would - she wouldn't have gotten a tip from me either.

 

 

This poster's experience is the same as mine.  For your current SCA, do get her name so that you can inform Amtrak's Customer Service;  Customer Service will appreciate having as many specifics as possible.  As to any gratuity, none ought to be offered. 

 

I've even gone so far as to walk over to the SCA of the other car and hand him a tip for helping us load bags at the time of boarding. Walked right past our SCA who did nothing. Tip well when service is good. No tip for no service.



#13 Guest_Guest_*

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 04:06 PM

We just got off the Texas Eagle and Rob- the SCA was great. A couple of months ago on the Empire Builder, we had an SCA who was dubbed "Invisible Calvin" by the people in the car. He didn't even make the morning coffee until 10:30.

#14 Cina

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 04:21 PM

I wonder if you didn't have the same SCA I had on the CZ a month or so ago. A younger African-American gal? She talked very sweetly and seemed friendly but just couldn't be bothered to do anything. The showers were about the same as you described, and she insisted on putting our bunkbeds up about an hour before we detrained, which meant we had to move our bags. I saw her getting a quiet talking-to from neighboring SCA's a couple times. She didn't get a tip from us and our conclusion was that she probably wouldn't last long. 


Edited by Cina, 24 August 2017 - 04:22 PM.

 
 
 
 
 

#15 crescent-zephyr

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 05:41 PM

Absolutely do not tip this attendant and please report to Amtrak that you had to make your own beds. 

 

The #1 thing to remember is that Amtrak is not like the cruise line industry where cabin stewards are paid very low wages and depend on tips. Amtrak employees in the diner and the sleepers are paid a very good wage and get great benefits. So if they do not even do the basics of the job they are getting paid to do, they certainly should not be tipped. 


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#16 PVD

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 07:48 PM

I don't tie tipping to wages, I tie it to service. If a well paid person provides it, they should be tipped in accordance with standards for that position. If a poorly paid person provides no service, they still don't deserve it. If gratuities are part of one's wages, they still should be earned. If you don't do the basics of your job, you should not get compensated. If you do your job, but are well compensated if a gratuity is the norm for a position or type of work I don't see why they should not receive it.



#17 Lonestar648

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 07:55 PM

I would not tip based on your description.  However, I would absolutely contact Amtrak with her name, train number, travel date and a detailed description of how she didn't  perform her basic functions.  I send in praise for the excellent SCA as well as the bad or MIA SCA.


Trains Traveled On:
Texas Eagle                                      Sunset Limited                            California Zephyr                                Southwest Chief                Empire Builder            Capitol Limited           Lake Shore limited (NYP & BOS)      Crescent
Kentucky Cardinal                             Cardinal                                       Pere Marquette                                  Wolverines                        Lincoln Service            Empire Service          Keystone Service                               Acelas
NE Regionals                                    Pioneer                                        Desert Wind                                       Broadway Limited             Three Rivers                 Coast Starlight                          
 
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#18 dlagrua

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Posted 01 September 2017 - 09:06 AM

Amtrak is just like any other business. You will encounter service that ranges from great to poor. Most of the SCA's that we have had were good to very good with a few hitting the excellent mark. Some will do the bare minimum while others will go out of their way to provide help. Only once, years back did we encounter an SCA on the AutoTrain that did almost nothing. People like that need to be fired.

When the service has been great we tip and send  in praise to Amtrak customer service. When the service is mediocre or bad we have not put in a report but in the future poor service will be reported. While we cannot expect every SCA to be top notch, we deserve and have every right to expect satisfactory service.

Tips may not be what the SCA's depend on but if they can come away with a few hundred bucks per trip that could represent a significant boost in salary. Some SCA's recognize this, strive for better tips and those are the people that usually give the best service. If I were to rate the SCA's overall I would give the group a B+. 



#19 me_little_me

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Posted 01 September 2017 - 08:05 PM

They seemed to have improved quite a bit in the last year if taking an average of the ones I had. It all gets down to management. If they would ride the trains incognito or have trusted people ride and make specific reports which would be used as ratings of employees, things would improve. Management needs to enforce the Standards manual. Obviously it is not done.



#20 Tennessee Traveler

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Posted 01 September 2017 - 08:59 PM

me_little_me, I have seemingly had the same experience this year.  I've ridden the CZ, Capitol Limited and CONO multiple times, Crescent, Sunset Limited, CS, and Empire Builder LD trains this year and the SCA's seemed to be more service oriented and even the sleeping car roomettes seemed to be improved to rattle less or none at all mainly.  Based on that one improvement, I'll choose roomettes over bedrooms in the future since the partition between bedrooms is almost guaranteed to rattle and one time actually slid open when riding over some rough track.  Of course, this is just my experience, yours may be different.





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