Monday, December 31, 2007

Amtrak has a problem

Amtrak has not been good to this traveler. Here's a recap.

The train is three hours late for an unknown reason. The Whitefish station does not allow me to check my bags because the "truck" used to move baggage in Williston broke down. I tell the agent that I've got Christmas gifts in one bag and it's important that I check them. Nope, can't do it. I get to Williston  and find out that my bag (not the gifts - just everything else I need for the week) is missing. 

I call the 1-800 number and file a missing bag report. The agent says to follow up the next day. I call the next day and am told it's a customer relations problem, but they won't be open until Monday. I call Monday (today) and am told I need to call each station between Whitefish and Williston myself to see if the bag has been turned in. I'm thinking, seriously? I'M supposed to call?

I try to call the stations and the calls just roll over to Julie, the automated 1-800 voice that is beginning to make my skin crawl. So, I request that computer Julie transfer me again to an agent. I explain my situation for the 5th? time. The agent tells me that they filed a report and sent it out to all stations, and that I should hope that the person turns the bag in to a station. The rest of the conversation goes something like this...

Iris: "What happens if the person is NOT a good person and it doesn't get turned in?" 

Agent: "I'm sorry, if a person doesn't turn it in, you are out of luck.  YOU SHOULD HAVE CHECKED YOUR BAGS." 

Iris: "Hmmmm, interesting. I tried to do that, remember? The baggage truck was broken, and I wasn't allowed to check my bags."

Agent: "Oh, you really should talk with customer relations again."

Iris: "Who am I talking to now?"

Agent: "This is the 1-800 number. Customer Service isn't open due to the holidays."

Iris: "May I have the number for Customer Relations?"

Agent: "There is no number for Customer Relations. You have to call this number and we will transfer you." 

Iris: "So, I have to call this number every time, wait the 12, 6, 16, whatever minutes for an agent, just to be transferred to customer relations?"

Agent: "Yes, that is the procedure."

Iris: "Amtrak has a very serious problem with customer service." 

Agent: "Well, now, we've done everything we can to help you." 

Iris: "Really? You asked ME to call every station between Whitefish and Williston."

Agent: "Yes, because we filed a report, and now are asking you to wait."

Iris: "So, the report filed FRIDAY, is going to be looked at again today, Monday or tomorrow Tuesday? I'm pretty certain based on the impressive customer service record that the agents in these individual stations are not going to check an email message from Friday on Monday or Tuesday."

Agent: "Ummmm...maybe we could file another report."

Iris: "You think?"

The agent takes my information again, tells me it will be sent to all stations again, and tells me to have a good day, again. 

My advice? Don't travel by Amtrak. Spend the extra dollars for a flight. Yes, my bags have been lost with air travel as well, but I've always gotten them back within 12 hours. In my experience, they've at least attempted to help me. 

I'm trying to shake this off because there are definitely worse things that could happen to a person. It's just that this bag had my favorite clothes, my winter running gear, my glasses, etc. Yes, they can be replaced, but it certainly has not been fun making a trip to Penney's and Wal-mart (the only store within 60 miles) to spend extra money on clothes that do not fit right. Or, to spend a week not being able to run in one of my favorite places because I don't have any gear. I know, I'm whining. I need to get over it. 

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