Amtrak classifies valid customer feedback as “venting,” ignores it

By | December 12, 2019

Due to a tragic accident on December 5 in which an Amtrak worker was electrocuted, Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor service was negatively impacted throughout the day, with many trains delayed or canceled.

I was scheduled to take an Amtrak train from New Haven, CT to Boston, MA on the evening of December 5. Because of the Amtrak service issues, my train was delayed by many hours, and I ended up giving up and paying for a one-way rental car to drive back to Boston.

I have many complaints with how Amtrak has handled the service issues and their aftermath. I outlined them all in this Twitter thread:

Here’s the full text of that thread:

Hey @Amtrak, let’s review your handling of the chaos that occurred on December 5 after a tragic accident shut down the Northeast Corridor for many hours.

@Amtrak did not notify its passengers that trains were canceled or delayed on December 5, despite the fact that you ask passengers for contact information when they buy tickets specifically to be used for such notifications.

Since then I have asked @Amtrak repeatedly here why passengers were not notified and what passengers can and should expect in the future concerning such notifications; you have not replied to of my inquiries.

After I was unable to take my @Amtrak train that night because of the delay and ended up renting a car to get home instead, I would have expected my ticket to be refunded automatically. It was not. I assume that other impacted people’s tickets also weren’t refunded automatically.

I looked for a button on my reservation on the @Amtrak web site for requesting a refund on an unused ticket, something which many airlines have, but there was none.

I then tried to request a refund for the unused ticket using your “E-mail Us” form on the @Amtrak web site, but the form doesn’t work.

I then attempted to request a refund from @Amtrak via DM on twitter, but was told that they can’t process refunds via DM (why not?) so I would have to call instead.

I called the @Amtrak Rewards Select priority service line to request a refund. After several minutes on the phone with them, they said they couldn’t handle my refund and they would have to transfer me to the generic customer service line… which has a >10 minute hold time.

After waiting on hold for 10 minutes with @Amtrak‘s customer service line, I finally got through to a person, who processed my request, gave me a case number, and told me it could take up to 60 days for the refund to show up on my credit card.

Every tweet in this thread represents a specific area where @Amtrak could do better, but I’m not holding my breath.

In response, Amtrak sent this was tweet, which was clearly intended to be an internal note but was instead accidentally tweeted publicly:

Here is how I replied:

A few minutes later Amtrak deleted their tweet (good!).

Amtrak’s handling of this has been absolute garbage from start to finish. For environmental reasons I’m a big advocate for people taking the train instead of flying whenever possible, but it’s difficult to be a cheerleader for Amtrak when this is how they treat people.

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2 thoughts on “Amtrak classifies valid customer feedback as “venting,” ignores it

  1. anonymous

    Wow. Everyone knows when you complain on Twitter asking a company to change its procedures, they’re supposed to apologize and say they’ll look into it, even though they actually have no intention of doing anything.

    Publicly criticizing the customer and saying they’re refusing to engage is definitely not protocol.

  2. Pingback: Thanks, Amtrak, for demonstrating how to apologize badly – Something better to do

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