Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by spinnaker, Jul 12, 2019.
Sort of like the old "We had to destroy the village in order to save it" explanation.
Why I mentioned the union needs to fix this. Should have been done long ago. At least since the change of management. You are correct stating that complaints are just another excuse for management to cut the employees
The situations are all fact-specific.
Last time I was in the lounge at CUS (last week actually) despite announcements about not bringing in outside F&B to eat, I saw people who had their McDonald's food and trash on the tables. Sorry but I think that's just plain not appropriate. I'm sure if the employees had dared say anything it would have resulted in a complaint about their attitude.
When you work in customer service, the first thing you learn is that no matter how politely you deny someone's request that you can't fulfill, you are called "rude." No, you can't have a free upgrade. Well you're rude and I'm writing to your CEO.
The vast majority of people working for a living are there to do a good job and protect their paychecks.
I once overheard a passenger saying “wow, you’re loud” to the attendant calling for tickets as the train was leaving Penn. The attendant said he needs to make sure people hear over their headphones, especially on a sold out train with a lot of people to get through. I’m sure the passenger filed a complaint, based on his continued complaining to his seat mate. He is also one of those head shakers, expressing their disapproval with the head back and forth every time you inadvertently do something that makes them aware you exist.
Exactly right. At my retail job, part of what we do is cash checks (if we have done so before and it is under a certain amount) as well as do Western Union and print money orders. We tell people, booth verbally and by signs, that there are very specific conditions that must be met, all put in place by corporate after unfortunate mishaps:
Checks: Cashed before and can not exceed $500.
WU: Cannot exceed $1000
Money Orders: $500 increments, cannot be refunded.
We get people who whine, complain, and sometimes even put on the waterworks when we tell them no. They’ll say it’s for their rent, or a loved one’s medical bills. They’ll say we’ve done it before. Some will even get belligerent. I give all the same line that usually shuts them up: “I’m sorry (sir/ma’am), but I cannot do what you are asking me to do, as it would be a direct violation of our corporate policy and I would be fired”.
The world of customer service is a wild one...
No one ever said anything about employees enforcing the rules. The problem is how they are doing it. They could politely inform offending passengers they are breaking the rule or they can snap at the passenger and berate them for breaking the rules.
It has to be difficult to be civil when it is the 20th person that you have told that day. But as far as you know, that passenger simply does not know the rules. As already mentioned they do make that announcement as they make many other announcements that eventually just become noise. If the person either ignores the first polite explanation or is a returning offender then I would see no problem with the employee getting more stern with the passenger.
I thought the policy at the Metropolitan Lounge had changed a few months ago and that people were now allowed to bring in outside food. Prior to that change people were being kicked out of the lounge for bringing in food from outside. there was a big discussion of this a few months back and a friend who used the lounge in April or May confirmed that outside food was now allowed.
Is the no food policy back on?
From my experience, rules in the Metropolitan Lounge seem to be set by the individual employees. I have personally seen the rules change on the same day. The only difference two different employees enforcing the rules.
I see no problem in the Metro Lounge with outside food as long as passengers clean up after themselves. I do see a problem with it in the Cafe car as space is at a premium and should be reserved for those paying the cafe for the food.
I'm just going to dip my toe into this by saying they have started implementing customer service classes for the front line employees. They also gutted/refined the service standards (someone should file a FOI request and post the results) to streamline a lot of the problematic rules.....which will naturally take time to adjust to and also has the potential to create other areas of chaos.
One of the ongoing problems that I have had with Amtrak customer facing employees is that many of them seem to dream up random rules of their own which has no basis in any documented policy and then get nasty about it if questioned. I have generally never experienced such blatant random rule making on the fly at any of the airlines I use, nor on any other major national rail systems I use.
Yep I just mentioned that. Seems to be the worst in the Metro Lounge in Chicago.
Having been an Amtrak customer since 1971, and a frequent customer over the past 20 years, I don't think there's an "attitude problem" among Amtrak customer-facing staff that's any worse than in other service industries. I think I can count the number of customer-facing staff with "bad attitude" on the fingers of one hand, well, I might need to use a couple of fingers on the other hand. I mostly ride on the NEC, bust I also ride the other eastern state-supported trains and try to get in at least one long-distance trip a year. Most of the frustrations I've had with customer service appear to have causes outside the customer-facing employees control: decreases in staffing levels, delays, cafe car or diner running out of what I wanted to order, the selection and quality of the food, etc. Of course, I don't expect a waiter or sleeping car attendant to be hovering about me always at my beck and call to satisfy my every personal whim.
I've had a lot of experience with "gate dragons" at Washington Union Station, especially during the period when they were actually looking at tickets. They were usually friendly about it, but the policy of having everyone line up and wait until someone looks at your ticket is inherently stressful for everyone concerned. I got the idea that some of them were as annoyed at the process as the passengers. They did sure seem happy when the policy was changed to eliminate looking at everybody's ticket and the lines move faster, too.
In all my years of Amtrak travel, I encountered exactly one conductor who was on what I would consider to be a "power trip," and displayed a "bad attitude" towards customers. I had another conductor throw me off a train because I had an "unreserved" ticket, and the train had switched to being all-reserved. (This was when they were converting all Northeast Regional trains to reserved service only.) I suppose he was justified in kicking me off, but he was a little rude about it. That's all the troubles I've had with conductors.
Compare that with an experience I had flying United Airlines in October 2001. We were lined up in San Francisco Airport with the mother of all long security lines and people were really complaining. I think some people might have been confused about the configuration of the line (which snaked and curved around the airport), or maybe some of the were really trying to butt in front of other people without being too obvious about it. Anyway, there was a certain amount of dissension and a (non-uniformed) United employee came out and threatened to have all of us arrested! Now that's a "bad attitude!" And then we finally got to the gate, we had a problem with one of our reservations because -- who knows? But my wife was on a different reservation from my daughter and me because she flew out a day later than us. They did take care of that one to our satisfaction, but the whole trip was pretty stressful.
No. The lounge still allows outside food. Michigan Mom’s last time there was when the policy was still to not allow outside food. I’ve been there several times since the change, including Saturday (the 13th) and ate my meal from McDonald’s and a bottle of Coke. I doubt the policy will ever revert back to a no outside food allowed again. Please don’t let anyone tell you anything different....outside food IS allowed and has been since the closing of the Legacy Club.
I was there on July 5th. There's a good possibility that I am remembering what was said incorrectly, especially since I was also there at the end of May.
The policy went into effect, earlier than Feb. 18. I went down to Chicago on a day trip to celebrate my birthday and I started the following thread while in the lounge. This should clear up the timeline, I hope.
It clears it up, but I'm still pretty sure a different announcement was made, and something about it being based on health department regulations. Maybe it was from when we were there in January, if it changed the following month. I don't want to falsely accuse employees of making incorrect announcements if I've just gotten the timeline confused.
I think it did change between your visit in January and mine in February. When I was there in February, as I stated in the thread I'd started, I asked the desk attendant if the policy had changed and he'd said yes. Also, no Amtrak staff asked anyone who was in there at the time to stop and go eat in the lobby or elsewhere. That's what motivated me to ask. Then I ended up going to McDonald's, getting some lunch and bringing it back and have been doing it since (I've been there again in March, a month ago and Saturday). Nevertheless, we're debating semantics here....the point is, the no food policy has been over for some time now, and it doesn't seem likely that it'll return. My belief is the change in policy, as I've stated before, was in conjunction to the closing of the Legacy Club......thus, the lowering of the fees for the ML to $25 for a day pass, for those who don't qualify for complimentary entry.
My experiences with Amtrak personnel have been by and large good to very good. There have been some isolated incidents that were less than stellar, including encountering a coach car attendant on the EB who as far as I'm concerned should be riding a broom and eating out of a trough, to the occasional disappearing SCA, to another SCA or two who flat out refused to do anything we asked including put the beds down, to the cafe car attendant on the Vermonter who was reluctant to give any service at all, and bitched about "you business class people getting all your free drinks". His worst sin as far as I was concerned was wearing a Yankee hat. I can tolerate most anything but wearing a damYANKEE hat was over the top!!!!!. And then there was the attendant on the EB who refused to sell me a diet Pepsi or bottled water, telling me to go drink out of the tap if I didn't like it, and only with the greatest of reluctance selling me apple juice even though I shouldn't have apple juice because of diabetes. Then when the lead service attendant appeared on scene to give me change, she proceeded to cheerfully sell the person in line behind me a diet Pepsi when I'd been told they were out. That one cost Amtrak a voucher.
Those have been isolated incidents and no where near the normal experience I've had. That said, when one poster said service has gone from bad to worse, I believe them. That's been THEIR experience. And when others say they've never encountered poor service, I believe them too. There again, that's been THEIR experience. Who am I, or anyone else for that matter, to say those experiences are wrong just because we ourselves haven't had those experiences??? We all react to things differently. To go further, my uncle and I have shared many trips together. There have been times when he thought a particular SCA was great and I thought they were worthless. And, like Yogi Berra might say, vice reversa. Our experiences are just that, ours, and I don't see the point of telling people how to react to certain things or telling them how to perceive the service they've gotten.
I take the Michigan trains out of chicago... the conductors on all my trains are great and know me since I am a regular...after 16 years of regular ridership would you believe not ONE person at the gate in Union Station acknowledges or knows me? THEY are the worst...hide from passengers with questions, sit there looking at their phones and even when I am friendly they look at me like who are you? Crazy...love my conductors though!
I agree 1000% (not a typo, I agree 1,000 percent).
By the way, this was the weekend I was trying to meet up with our mutual conductor friend who got transferred to the Empire Builder (yep, we certainly are fond of our conductors old and new, on the PM). I found out that he had to call off due to family matters, while I was sitting in the Metropolitan Lounge Saturday. Yesterday, I came back from Wisconsin on a 5-hour late EB, missed my connection to Holland and had alternate transportation instead of the train....got back here at 2:30 AM. Additionally, I had to wait the entire time in Wisconsin at the station in the sweltering heat....alone....I was the only one who boarded at Tomah. Crazy weekend...but I'd do it all over again and will since I still need to see him.....I was all prepared to say hi to him for you, so I'll remember next time.
Agreed. I’ve always found the AML conductors to be personable and a wealth of knowledge and almost always kept us informed. One of them even made the connection between my last name and one of his favorite movies and we had a chat about that for a little while.
I think what Michigan Mom is saying is that even if a customer-facing service grunt is polite, there are some customers who will complain about "attitude" if they can't get what they want, even if what they want is unreasonable, contrary to company policy, etc. So you have to take some complaints of rude service with a grain of salt. For an extreme example, see the "nut-rage" incident on Korean Air. (In that case the unreasonable "customer" was a high-level executive of the airline, but I'm sure there are a certain number of customers who are never satisfied with anything, and would like to do what Ms. Cho did. *(i.e. publicly berate the service employee and then fire them.)
On a day trip to Tampa earlier in the year my brother and I rode the SM out of PAK. Two guys got on in Orlando. They were obviously a little drunk, wearing paint stained clothes. I had briefly talked to them just before they got on while I was taking pictures of the train - that's how I know they were drunk. They were "fed up" with Orlando and were headed to Tampa to see if they could find work. Whe they first got on they took the seats they were asked to and looked as if they would sleep all the way to Tampa.
Shortly before we got to Kissimmee a shouting match erupted on the car we were in. The language was full of the "F" word with a few of the "N" word thrown in along with threats of physical violence. It was these two guys and a woman who had a couple children with her. She was sitting in the front seats and they decided they wanted to sit on the floor where here kids had been quietly sitting and playing in front of her.
We ended up with three attendants and the conductor before all the shouting and name calling quit. About that time we were coming into Kissimmee. The conductor put the two drunk guys off the train and warned the woman that if she said anymore about those guys she would also have to get off - and she was a regular rider. She kept quiet and so did her kids for the rest of their trip. They actually got off at Lakeland.
As those guys got off the train they blamed Amtrak and the conductor for being "unprofessional" and "taking their money" and not letting them "ride the train in peace".
I'm sure they thought the Amtrak employees had an attitude and would tell all their friends about how unfair they were treated ... the rest of us were glad to see them go - we felt sorry for the people in Kissimmee.
So how does this apply? A couple of a-hats that were drunk. Totally irrelevant.
There is no denying Amtrak employees have a very difficult job as do anyone that has to deal with the public. It is especially difficult when you are confined with that public for a period of time. Flight attendants, bus drivers etc deal with this garbage everyday.
I respectfully disagree. I think if you want outside food, eat it outside at that establishment. My observations are that most people do not clean up after themselves. They are simply sloppy and expect the employees to clean up after them.
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