Amtrak's treatment of elderly passengers
Update by user Dec 17, 2011
Don\'t post complaints to this site as you cannot remove them. There is no way to remove previous posts at all!!!! The company gave us back the cat and this site sucks
Original review posted by user Jan 03, 2011
When my 75 year old grandmother, Alexandra, bought tickets to travel by Amtrak from Washington to Montreal she never thought that this trip would became a nightmare and would cost her her only companion: her cat Mimi. She diligently choose Amtrak over flying as she thought it would turn out as a better experience for her beloved pet. Unfortunately for her, she did not know about Amtrak's "only service animals policy". For an elderly person that speaks only Russian, it is not hard to miss the small print when there are no obvious signs around the train station indicating that pets are not welcome. In fact, she assumed that it was fine to travel with a cat as long as it is caged as she was given reason to believe so during her first part of the trip. Alexandra had boarded the Washington, D.C. to New -York with her pet clearly visible and safely caged. Not only did the staff appear not to object to her having brought a cat, but some even smiled at it thus encouraging the belief that pets were allowed on board. Had some of the staff objected, it would have been possible at this point for her to cancel the ride and find a better method of travel that would not take away her companion away from her by force.
Nevertheless, she had traveled from Washington D. C. to New York without any staff showing objection. However, when she tried to board a train at Penn Station in New-York to continue her trip, she was approached by Penn Station employees who demanded that she her to gave up the cat or she would not be allowed to travel. She was spoken rudely and brought to tears. Abandoning a trip was not an option for her as she was alone in a foreign country and did not know the language. As you can probably imagine, such an experience is traumatic to an elderly person. Perhaps the most outrageous part of this story is that Amtrak provided Alexandra a French translator to "help" her. If you compare French to Russian, you will notice that the two languages are too distinct from one another and that even if Alexandra speaks a work of French, this "help" would have been more detrimental to her case than anything else. Then, to further distress this elderly lady, the staff confiscated the papers showing Alexandra as the legal owner of the cat without her consent. The poor and terrified woman was forced to abandon her cat without having been even given a chance to figure out what action to take. The Amtrak staff didn't even have the courtesy to bother and provide her with a phone to call her English speaking daughter for help. After the traumatic experience occurred, Alexandra had to beg until a kind stranger stranger offer her a phone to call her relatives. She was then able to ask her daughter (who was at the time in Raleigh, North Carolina) to inquire about her cat. After 2 hours on the phone and multiple inquiries the daughter was finally able to talk to the manager, "Anne" who told her that she have to get to New-York within 1 hour or cat would be disposed of. Please tell me if there is a way to get from North Carolina to New York in two hours on such a short notice, for the only way that I can think of is with a private jet. I can assure you, however, that my garage does not have any such jets in it. By the looks of it, I do not think any of my neighbors do either.
Ignoring the fact that the staff was excessively rude and condescending during the whole ordeal, it is obvious that these Amtrak representatives were responsible for the escalation of this event as they led Alexandra board and travel in the first train without incident. Furthermore, not only did they forcefully took away a dear pet from an innocent elderly lady, but neither did they provide a realistic way for the pet to be recuperated by relative. When asked if it would be possible to pick up the cat the next morning (in just enough time for us to travel there), Annie Giminez rudely told us just to forget about the animal and then hung up. When we called again, she said she gave it to animal control, so we called animal control and they confirmed us that they didn't have the cat. Then, a call later, talking through customer representative, the manager said she didn't know where the cat was and where she gave it to.
Alexandra is still in shock about the event and this has caused her health concerns. We spent whole Christmas and New-Year vacation trying to locate Mimi. Unfortunately, we failed.
This is how Amtrak treats its elderly passengers and confiscates private property.
Monetary Loss: $200.