Boston, Massachusetts
Not resolved

Just a friendly reminder that no one should ever use Amtrak again. Their website will purchase authorize a ton of money out of your account, leaving you with holds on funds over $1000 for a $269.50 ticket (since they attempt a purchase authorization each time you hit submit, and if you bank approves it, that does not mean amtrak will approve it because if your billing info isn't the first set of billing info your bank returns (many accounts have primary, secondary and tertiary billing info, payment processors are expected to check all returned XML data, which Amtrak does not) then they will refuse to help you in any way for hours on the phone, and claim that contacting your bank to help resolve the issue is 'illegal' and attempt to blame the issue on you.

As a web developer who interacts with payment gateways and payment processors and ACH processors, I know exactly what their website did, why it is wrong, and why it is their fault.

The corporate bureaucracy involved with getting on the phone with a person that can help you is as follows:

Call. Press 0. Press 0. Ask to speak with a manger. Denied. Ask to speak with a customer rep, transfer + hold for 45 minutes, 4 hours on the phone explaining the situation (monday) , told it will be resolved by Friday, given exact instructions (step by step) for what to do when you call on Friday. Call Friday and follow steps and be told that everything you were told Monday you were not told. One again told it is illegal for a merchant to contact a bank to tell the bank that the transaction will not be processed (yeah, totally illegal guys, no merchant has ever contact a bank, ever, because of how illegal that is, right? wrong, but hey, uninformed people probably buy that line all the time). Finally have the person admit they were wrong and that it is just an internal policy, have them tell you they can offer you a travel voucher for your outgoing trip, but only after your bank denies the transaction one last time, bank denies the transaction and they say 'it's your zip code, you aren't giving me the zip code correctly' and of course, I am SITTING AT THE BANK WITH THE BANK MANAGER WHO IS SAYING THAT IT IS THE ZIP CODE ON MY ACCOUNT.

Offer to put the bank manager on the phone, representative declines and once again says that the issue is with me, that no way could it be an issue with their system. Once again, while I am sitting at my bank, verifying the information as I speak it. Tell them once again you are not looking for anything FREE you are just not able to make the purchase, because they have already purchase authorized so much money out of your account. Told once again it will be 3-5 business days and the transaction will fall off (it should have fallen off right away when they pinged the payment gateway saying they were not going to pursue the transaction that was pre-authorized with the purchase authorization, but that is something the Amtrak programmer omitted). Explain to them that a mom and pop hair salon in rural vermont has a better system that was designed for less than the purchase authorization holds and once again mention I do this for a living so STOP LYING TO ME PLEASE. Told that a travel voucher for your outgoing trip will be made and that you can just hope and pray that the money is back in your account by Monday, because you are expected to show up at the train station with cash to pay for your ticket.

Accept this, but tell them you want proof in an e-mail that this is indeed the case, that you have been *** around all week and do not trust that it is 'in the system'. They tell you they will send an email right away. Boom. E-mail sent. Call ended. Check e-mail, nothing about a voucher, just a bill that says:



Reservation Number Is XXXXXX

Subject To Cancellation Unless Purchased By June 28, 2014


Total Reservation Charges: $ 146.70

Ticket Delivery Charge: $ 0.00


Total Charges: $ 146.70


Call back, ask the woman on the phone to confirm that it is paid. Woman says 'it's in the system', ask for an e-mail with proof because you were told 'it's in the system' on Monday, but when you called back Friday it was not. Mention that no less than 5 minutes ago, you were told by the customer relations person that they would send an email which would mention the 'travel voucher'. Start to get attitude from the woman, ask her employee id number, refused. Ask her name, mumbled, ask her to repeat it and spell it, mumbled and subject change to transferring to customer relations. Ask to some how not have to sit on another 45 min hold, or if there is ANY way to get some written proof that what is 'in the system' is going to still be 'in the system' the next day.

Refused. Hung up on.

Monetary Loss: $1000.

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You are a web developer and don't know how to use a phone App to purchase train tickets?


If you honestly knew how the debit card system works then you would know the authorization is not done by Amtrak but rather buy you bank. Amtrak does not have the ability to decline a charge nor put a hold on your funds.

This is how all debit transactions are done .. first an authorization then the charge. if everything goes smoothly you don't even know it happens. If there is a problem (such as a bank declining due to wrong info) then you see it happen.

Again, no business has the authority to decline a charge from your bank and why would they? In my business I dealt with this just the other day.

When my customer was hitting submit I could see the auth come through but our system kept declining. It happens every day.