Normally I include a photo of some sort in every blog I write. today I am not including one, instead I want to write about the horrible experience I had with Amtrak the past day.
Last night I got to the Illinois Terminal, Champaign, Illinois about 5pm or so,I was a couple hours early due to the fact my ride had to be somewhere else that evening. My train was supposed to be in at 6:59pm Heading towards Chicago, Illinois. around 7:15 they finally call us out to the platform to wait. All the passengers including Myself waited an hour outside, until the customer service rep said it was going to be awhile until the train would be there.
We went inside as the customer service reps and police started telling the customers they could not divulge any information as to why our train was this late. People started investigating it themselves, and found out our train that we were supposed to catch had been hit by a Tractor, the witnesses I talked to had said a Semi carrying a tractor had hit the train.
For the next 2 hours or so we sat around until Amtrak finally admitted, that their train had struck farm equipment. It was not until about 9pm or so when a freight engine finally towed the Amtrak train we were supposed to be on with the remaining passengers going to Chicago, and they let them off at the Illinois Terminal. As the Train passed I had noticed just how damaged the Engine pulling the Amtrak really was. As the Passengers were getting off shaken by this incident, Channel 3 news had showed up to interview them and get a shot of the train being towed.
We sat there until about 10:30 When the girl at the Customer Service Desk made an announcement, that all passengers going to Chicago should remain in the Amtrak lobby until further notice about the buses they had got. Around 11 pm they finally told us our buses would be there momentarily, and they had us stand outside on this island with a small roof over it as the rain came down. We stood there until 12am before any buses finally arrived.
We had boarded the buses as the bus driver started loading from the middle of the line and not the beginning of the line, and he had caused one female passenger to become irate with this, and he tried to play Mr. Tough Guy, and get in the woman’s face literally. After we boarded the buses, it was finally time to leave, but as we got further down the road, we had all realized the bus we were on had no heat. We dealt with this for about two and a half hours. We finally arrived at what we were told was Union Station in Chicago, Illinois, yet we were dropped off two blocks from the station itself, and we all had to walk in 45 degree temps through a steady rain.
We had got to the doors of Union Station, and the police were standing inside, and would not listen to who we were, and things were about to get heated. The Manager was a tall skinny, white , shaved head snob with glasses he finally listened after 5 minutes of arguing trying to prove who we all were. We kept telling him we are Train 392, and the buses just got us here, and yet he stared at us like we were zombies about to eat him. He had finally let us in, and we were all ushered downstairs and told to go to the Amtrak Lobby basically without question, as if he was trying to avoid being confronted by already Irate passengers.
At the Champaign, Illinois Terminal WE WERE TOLD THAT AMTRAK WOULD PUT US UP IF WE MISSED OUR CONNECTING TRAINS BACK HOME, AND WE WOULD BE PUT UP IN A HOTEL. I told the Manager at Union Station this, and I was told this is my final destination this is where I stay. I then proceeded to tell him I have been stuck in Champaign, Illinois for 6 hours, some of us brought just enough money to get back to our destinations, and we are hungry and just want a place to lay our heads. He vehemently denied Amtrak ever telling me this although this was a guy in Chicago telling me what someone in Champaign said. I finally had had enough. I went to Customer relations to ask to use the phone, because mine was not working, and I was told I could not use the phone, and Mr. Tough snob manager came out and tried to confront me again. This time I told him we want accommodations or I want a cab back to my mothers house which is 75 miles away. He refused again telling me he cannot get me a cab because them getting us there this late was not their fault and this is my final destination and this is where we will stay until our trains in the morning.
After Awhile I went back in and told him again look this is not our fault and should not have to pay the consequences because of the mistakes of Amtrak. He had then told me he was gonna call the Police. I said fine call the police because I think this whole thing is gotten way out of hand, and the fact you will not take care of your customers but instead refuse to listen or even provide a cup of coffee for that matter for the weary travelers which you refuse to help.
The police arrived listened to both our stories agreed my story was the more compelling argument but he could not do anything, and he left. The manager then passed the buck to !-800-USA-RAIL the customer service line, I said I did not want to speak to a representative on the phone. He then asked me why I left Champaign If I knew I was going to be stuck here in Chicago for the night, I explained to him once again, We were told we would be put up in Hotels for the night, He then Proceeded to tell me, and mind you this was now past 2:30 in the morning that he had just called the Illinois terminal and they never said that Illinois Terminal usually closes completely for the night before then. So I knew he was blatantly lying to me right there and then. He then proceeded to ask me why didn’t i just stay there in Champaign and have my parents come get me because that is where I was headed for the weekend. I told him I live 240 miles from my parents they are not going to travel 240 miles at Dam near 11pm at night to come get me to bring me up. Mind you my father is well into his seventies, and does not walk to well anymore. He then said well why didn’t you call them and ask for a ride when I got to Union Station, We got in about 2 am and my parents are still 75 miles from that point. I was getting mad at his why didn’t you questions, because he acted as if it were just that easy.
I waited until about 6 in the morning as I finally nodded off in an Amtrak lobby chair for about an hour maybe less, it was not comfortable, and I did not sleep well. I went to customer relations to try to use the phone again, because Amtrak does not have WiFIi like they claim in Union station it is only for those who are using sleeper accommodations . i explained I was part of the 392 debacle, and my phone does not work right now I would just like to call my parents to let them know what time to meet me in Fox lake, Illinois this morning. She snipped at me I need a ticket to prove that because we normally Do NOT DO THIS! I said here is my ticket and you and your managers have already put us out, I need a phone!. She let me use the phone, and afterward told me my ticket was no good since I did not take the train into the station. So I had to go get a new return ticket, because If you do not Check in on the train, they do whats called a forced check in and your ticket is no good. Mind you some of us never got checked in on the train because we got bussed because of this fiasco. I went to the customer service lady at the ticket counter, she actually called customer service to clear the force check in. and was the nicest lady I encountered all night that worked for Amtrak! I even told her that.
I suggest that if you take Amtrak read their small print, and buyer beware if a train gets in a wreck before or while your on the train you may experience some of these same problems with bad customer representatives of their company. If this ever happens again no matter how I will find a way back home to my own bed before I try to go on ! It is not worth the hassle and the problems you encounter. These guidelines for the way they treat people need to be rewritten for them at Amtrak.
Sorry for the rant I just wanted to get this all off my chest as I have now been up for almost 24 hours with maybe an hour or so of sleep or a power nap. I would like comments on this ! and tell me your views.