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randomguy65

"Lunch isn't included" (in fare on 21 from Fort Worth)?

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According to Amtrak's own website, latest boarding time to receive lunch is 2:30 PM.

 

www.amtrak.com/onboard/meals-dining/dining-car.html

According to the TexasEagle's own website, their meal service times are:

 

Breakfast: 6:30-9:30a

Lunch: noon-2:00p

Dinner: 5:30-9:30p

 

http://www.texaseagle.com/onboard.php

 

I'm going to venture that the staff feels that 2:00p is when they shut down all lunch services, which means you have to have been seated far enough before 2:00p that you will be finished by 2:00p. Continuing down that thought path, the staff feels that passengers just boarding for a 2:10p departure are presumed to be too late for lunch.

 

 

 

The problem is, he boarded at 12:45pm. That is prior to end of lunch service. While I understand the typically means the train has usually departed Fort Worth, the fact remains the train did NOT depart Fort Worth. That is why this should be handled right away. Is there some sort of deep confusion? Did they stop serving the coach passengers as well? It seems cut and dry to me. It is not even close to the end of lunch service. I don't even think there is an argument for last call being made because that shouldn't occur until 1:30pm at the earliest.

 

 

This person (and many others like him/her) are literally giving their jobs away. They are working hard to kill their crafts by failing to preserve and nurture the service.

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A few years ago I boarded an early 421 at FTW and the SCA told me to scamper down to the Diner if I was hungry. Even though no pax were left in the Diner, the LSA was more than happy to have me pick a table and when lunch was served, the portions were MASSIVE (probably clearing the decks).

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Personally, I would have eaten lunch already and not cared about eating on the train at 2:10 pm. But that's just me. ;)

 

I got on #14(CS) at San Jose last fall around 8:30 pm and though I was "in time" for dinner, I just got a dessert because I had already eaten dinner.

 

Yeah, I got on 14 in San Jose last month and was also offered a dinner seating, but declined. My son and I had dinner around the corner at Poor House Bistro and weren't in the mood for round 2. :)

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According to Amtrak's own website, latest boarding time to receive lunch is 2:30 PM.

 

www.amtrak.com/onboard/meals-dining/dining-car.html

According to the TexasEagle's own website, their meal service times are:

 

Breakfast: 6:30-9:30a

Lunch: noon-2:00p

Dinner: 5:30-9:30p

 

http://www.texaseagle.com/onboard.php

 

I'm going to venture that the staff feels that 2:00p is when they shut down all lunch services, which means you have to have been seated far enough before 2:00p that you will be finished by 2:00p. Continuing down that thought path, the staff feels that passengers just boarding for a 2:10p departure are presumed to be too late for lunch.

 

 

The problem is, he boarded at 12:45pm. That is prior to end of lunch service. While I understand the typically means the train has usually departed Fort Worth, the fact remains the train did NOT depart Fort Worth. That is why this should be handled right away. Is there some sort of deep confusion? Did they stop serving the coach passengers as well? It seems cut and dry to me. It is not even close to the end of lunch service. I don't even think there is an argument for last call being made because that shouldn't occur until 1:30pm at the earliest.

 

 

This person (and many others like him/her) are literally giving their jobs away. They are working hard to kill their crafts by failing to preserve and nurture the service.

 

The issue is then narrowing down to, does the act of arriving early entitle you to additional services? If you arrive at 12:45p for a 2:30p departure, does Amtrak have to feed you? The closest parallel that I can think of is, if one has a ticket to a 2:30p movie, and you show up at 12:45p, do you have the right to demand that the theater allow you watch a different movie while you wait?

 

IMHO, if anyone wants to push Amtrak into doing just that, providing services like meals to those who show up early, might end up resulting in Amtrak no longer allowing early boarding at this station. If you show up at 12:45p, you will have to stand on the platform and wait, until 2:25p. Is that what you want?

Edited by Cho Cho Charlie

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Amtrak's policies are very clear: if you are on the train during a scheduled meal service, you get the meal. The only exceptions I know are near the end of the run, where inexplicably Amtrak has allowed the convenience of its employees (who want to shut the dining car down and clean everything up before it arrives, rather than after it arrives) to override its customer service.

 

The policy is essentially because you can't get a meal anywhere else if you're already on the train.

 

The Original Poster needs to get the name of the LSA and report this to Customer Relations and Amtrak's Twitter.... someone needs a good reprimand. Maybe the LSA isn't used to having their train running on time, but they better get used to it.

Edited by neroden

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Amtrak's policies are very clear: if you are on the train during a scheduled meal service, you get the meal. The only exceptions I know are near the end of the run, where inexplicably Amtrak has allowed the convenience of its employees (who want to shut the dining car down and clean everything up before it arrives, rather than after it arrives) to override its customer service.

The staff is off the clock as soon as the train stops at it's terminus, that is why they want to get everything done before arrival. Now, should Amtrak extend their hours to maybe 1/2 hour past arrival, maybe, but that's not how it is right now.

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@Cho Cho Charlie

 

*Again*, the train has a scheduled departure of 2:10pm. According to Amtrak's website (and ignoring the Texas Eagle fan website) latest boarding time to receive a meal is 2:30 pm.

 

I boarded the train at 12:45 pm.

Edited by randomguy65

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Amtrak's policies are very clear: if you are on the train during a scheduled meal service, you get the meal. The only exceptions I know are near the end of the run, where inexplicably Amtrak has allowed the convenience of its employees (who want to shut the dining car down and clean everything up before it arrives, rather than after it arrives) to override its customer service.

The staff is off the clock as soon as the train stops at it's terminus, that is why they want to get everything done before arrival. Now, should Amtrak extend their hours to maybe 1/2 hour past arrival, maybe, but that's not how it is right now.

 

This is the end result of a long sequence of half-assed changes which weren't fully thought through; if I'm not mistaken, back in the 1960s, there would have been a separate station-based crew to close out and refit the dining car. The elimination of that crew was *not* coordinated with the necessary change in the schedule of the on-board crew. There should still be such station-based crews in New York and Chicago in any case, given the number of dining cars and cafe cars they handle, but there aren't. There also appear to be some rather idiotic accounting policy reasons behind Amtrak's current method of operation. But this is all somewhat off topic...

Edited by neroden

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The problem is that Amtrak policies are not clear. They list normal meal times, but also say that exceptions apply to certain trains. They don't say which trains or which meals. It is entirely possible that a Fort Worth board doesn't include lunch in its fare based on it's departure time. That is accounting issue that one would hope the onboard crew is given the discretion to deal with simply in case of an early arrival. That may or may not be the case. Plenty of companies create an environment where it is far easier to deal with a complaint from customer service management than accounting. I'm not saying I like that type of management, but there are plenty of them out there.

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@Cho Cho Charlie

 

*Again*, the train has a scheduled departure of 2:10pm. According to Amtrak's website (and ignoring the Texas Eagle fan website) latest boarding time to receive a meal is 2:30 pm.

 

I boarded the train at 12:45 pm.

*Again*, as you know, Amtrak's website says "Exceptions apply to certain trains". True, I am using the Texas Eagle website as an available reference that there is an exception with a lunch time that ends at 2pm. Going with the Amtrak's website putting a practice that you have to be seated 1/2 hour before, that puts the last seating for lunch at 1:30p. Your departure time is long after that; 2:10p.

 

*Again*, I think if you want to push this, the result might not be exactly what you want. Instead, they might simply escort you off the train, and have you stand on the platform until 2:05p. In other words, Amtrak is giving you a nice perk of early boarding. IMHO, you should accept just that, be grateful, and not demand more.

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Cho Cho Charlie, I respectfully disagree with your position and I'll explain why.

 

Admittedly, I don't know how the fares are calculated. I don't know the meal allotments because it is entirely possible they do not calculate certain riders into their figures.

 

However, as a passenger, that is not my problem. I have a premium ticket...which I paid extra for and I want food. Feed me. This is not me arriving at 1:59.59pm for a 2:00.00pm closure. I'm arriving 1'15" prior to closure.

 

Let's take this another direction.

 

Let's say the train is operating late. Normally, I would would have reached my stop prior to the meal service. However, I'm still on the train. Is someone going to tell me that I can't participate in the next meal service because it isn't part of my fare since I would have normally been off the train??????

 

You can't have it both ways!

 

Some train stops serving upon arrival of certain stops. The Eagle is not one of them. Lunch time concludes at 2pm. If you can't serve someone train food in 1'15", I'm sending Gordon Ramsey after you!

 

What does it hurt? The food is already there....I assume. I know the Auto Train only carries enough meals for the reserved passengers+ a small margin of error. However, I doubt that is the case of a standard train.

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Regardless of the "right or wrong" aspects, since our opinions on the subject are just that, what I think we can all agree on is that they don't do a very good job of explaining what should or should not be occurring, and this is just one more example in a series of areas where this occurs.. You may not agree with a particular policy, but if it is clearly stated in advance how things work, so be it. You have no legitimate argument at that point in time. You made your choice when you accepted the arrangement. Ambiguity in stated terms is rampant in their communications. Even when their is a good reason for things to be different, (like arrangements with states) the information is rarely presented clearly if at all. Business class amenities would probably be the most repeated complaint area.

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I sure hope customer service is reading this thread and seeing how much ill-will declining a simple lunch has generated.

For Most of us, I think this is just an ultimate example of LSA's making up and enforcing their own policies. Even some of the better LSA's I've encountered make up their own serving times, seating polices, etc.

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Sad, but the most consistent thing about Amtrak is the inconsistency.

This.

 

And you'd think that in this day of instant communication and social media, they would tighten their consistency. But far from it.

 

And people wonder why the train isn't any more popular than it is.

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Regrettably, Amtrak is just, for the most part, abiding by societies norms of petty tyrants, lazy workers, and often outright loathing (often deserved) for ones employers. I dont support it, just want to point out it isnt strictly an Amtrak thing.

 

The other day I was in a Jo-Anns buying some blackout curtain material so I can make sunshades for my van, which serves as my mobile office. The employee was helpful in finding me the cheapest material that would adequately do the job, which was nice. She then cut me the specified amount. Finally, she pointed out there was a tiny little pen mark about half an inch long, and asked me if I would like a different piece.

 

Since we are talking about the inside of a work van, I really could have cared less. I asked if a tiny discount could be applied to the fabric purchase. When I said tiny, I was expecting 5% and would have been pleased with 15% and overjoyed with 25%. She gave me 75% off. Perhaps that comes across as good customer service to you; but speaking as a retailer, it comes across different: employer hatred. There is no reason to discount this piece anywhere near this much, especially given my attitude, needs, and nature (I look like a disheveled Young Santa Clause complete with overalls). The employee did not care about her employer or their profitability.

 

And that kind of hatred? Its usually earned by poor treatment, bad work place policies, job insecurity, and general disrespect. Contrast that with Boscovs, where most employees actually went through the grieving process over the death of Al Boscov last year. They work their employees hard, but they also respect them and treat them properly. Which is probably why Boscovs has so far not been affected by current retail trends.

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Sad, but the most consistent thing about Amtrak is the inconsistency.

This.

 

And you'd think that in this day of instant communication and social media, they would tighten their consistency. But far from it.

 

And people wonder why the train isn't any more popular than it is.

 

 

I fully agree with your larger point, of course, but unfortunately I have to wonder just the opposite. Amtrak too often has chronically late trains, poor and overpriced food service, staff which make up their own rules, and a skeletal route structure which is woefully inadequate to really meet the needs of the travelling public. Yet, for all that, one of Amtrak's greatest problems is lack of capacity on its trains - too few frequencies and seats to fully meet demand. It's really quite remarkable.

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Sad, but the most consistent thing about Amtrak is the inconsistency.

This.

 

And you'd think that in this day of instant communication and social media, they would tighten their consistency. But far from it.

 

And people wonder why the train isn't any more popular than it is.

 

 

I fully agree with your larger point, of course, but unfortunately I have to wonder just the opposite. Amtrak too often has chronically late trains, poor and overpriced food service, staff which make up their own rules, and a skeletal route structure which is woefully inadequate to really meet the needs of the travelling public. Yet, for all that, one of Amtrak's greatest problems is lack of capacity on its trains - too few frequencies and seats to fully meet demand. It's really quite remarkable.

 

I agree with this point as well. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy riding the train whenever I can. But I do not blame others for not wanting to try it.

 

I think the railroads on the whole are at the hate-the-employer stage. I have an acquaintance who just retired from CSX before they could lay him off. He lamented to me the other day of the hiring of Hunter Harrison and how despite his ability to return the railroad to profitability, he did so at the cost of huge manpower reductions resulting in illegal car dispatches because they can't fix the cars fast enough to keep them on the road. So, those employees who remain are already defeated, thus having little incentive to work properly. That's an over simplification of a huge problem, but it's across the board.

 

Back to the point at hand, there is absolutely no reason at all for the passengers not to report poor service and expect to be compensated for advertised services - even if asterisked as "some may be different" nonsense bs.

Edited by VentureForth

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The claim of employees making up their own rules is probably exaggerated, but since they (Amtrak) do such a poor job of presenting what their actual policies and guidelines are in a clear and concise fashion, it is an easy charge to level. Sort of like politicians, we always say they are corrupt, because if half of the moronic things they say and do were not, and they really were that inept, we would bear a greater responsibility for electing them. Same thing in business, plenty of bad decisions by senior managers that they blame on external forces.

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Regrettably, Amtrak is just, for the most part, abiding by societies norms of petty tyrants, lazy workers, and often outright loathing (often deserved) for ones employers. I dont support it, just want to point out it isnt strictly an Amtrak thing.

 

The other day I was in a Jo-Anns buying some blackout curtain material so I can make sunshades for my van, which serves as my mobile office. The employee was helpful in finding me the cheapest material that would adequately do the job, which was nice. She then cut me the specified amount. Finally, she pointed out there was a tiny little pen mark about half an inch long, and asked me if I would like a different piece.

 

Since we are talking about the inside of a work van, I really could have cared less. I asked if a tiny discount could be applied to the fabric purchase. When I said tiny, I was expecting 5% and would have been pleased with 15% and overjoyed with 25%. She gave me 75% off. Perhaps that comes across as good customer service to you; but speaking as a retailer, it comes across different: employer hatred. There is no reason to discount this piece anywhere near this much, especially given my attitude, needs, and nature (I look like a disheveled Young Santa Clause complete with overalls). The employee did not care about her employer or their profitability.

 

And that kind of hatred? Its usually earned by poor treatment, bad work place policies, job insecurity, and general disrespect. Contrast that with Boscovs, where most employees actually went through the grieving process over the death of Al Boscov last year. They work their employees hard, but they also respect them and treat them properly. Which is probably why Boscovs has so far not been affected by current retail trends.

Not to get super off topic but as someone who currently works in food service, I understand this feeling way too much.

 

The second an employee realizes their employer does not give a damn about them, you get scenarios like this.

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