My fiance & I were supposed to leave to go to Killeen, TX tonight (12/26/2012) from St. Louis, MO. We purchased our tickets thru Amtrak on October 26...our train was supposed to leave at 8 PM tonight. At 12 this afternoon, my fiance got an automated call that said our trip has been canceled due to "service disruption". That was $436. He called them back immediately and after holding for 15 minutes, they told him that it was because of the snow storm, but that we could go to the train station & get our money back in cash since that's how we bought our tickets. We arrived at the Amtrak - Texas Eagle (STL) around 1:30. They told my fiance that they didn't have the cash at the time & gave him their number, telling him to call back around 7.
We got home & he tried calling them to see if we could go to the station that was in Kirkwood & get our money back there. However, when my fiance called the number that the Amtrak employee gave him, he discovered that this specific number connected to their customer service number, as if we dialed their 1-800 number. He waited on the line while I Googled the Kirkwood stations number and after 20 minutes of holding, the representative (who was very rude & "matter-of-factly" spoken) informed him that the Kirkwood station is not staffed by employees (it's basically just a terminal) and that we're more than welcome to drive to the Little Rock, AR station to get a refund. Keep in mind, there is 9" of snow on the ground in Little Rock, which is why our trip was canceled to begin with. Anyway, we were afraid that the employee actually had no intentions to give us our money back, and we were hoping to get the refund before Enterprise closed as we were hoping that we could still hit the highway this evening, so we went back up there at 4. They told him again that they didn't have it yet, and then they took his phone number & told him that they would call him at 7.
So, we went home....waited & waited. 7:45, still no call. We tried calling the 314 number that was previously given to us, but it AGAIN connected to the 800 customer service number. Obviously, somebody working in California cannot tell me whether or not the drawer in St. Louis has enough CASH in it for my refund. Thus, we made our THIRD 20-minute commute back to the STL train station and waited in line behind 4 other people. By the time the line got down to 2 people, the lady who had been talking to my fiance on previous visits saw him & yelled thru the window that they still didn't have the money, as the customer whose turn it was walked up to the window, by the way. She then paused & turned, yelling to the other woman in the office area, asking her if she had $436 in cash in her drawer, then turned back to us & told us that they still didn't have it.
Instead of leaving the line, i stood there. When we got to the window, I asked the lady how close they were to having the money. She typed something into the computer & then told me that she had $236. She said that the money they expected to have they didn't get because the train that was EXPECTED to leave out at 7 couldn't leave because of the snowstorm. Understandable. I asked the lady if there were any other trains leaving tonight. She told me that there was one leaving at 11, but that there were only 8 people on it. She then said that there was one reservation that had not yet been paid for, and it was over $500, but she wasn't sure how they were going to pay. I asked if they would be able to contact the customer and she looked at me as if I asked her to touch my fiance's genitals. I understand that it was a far-fetched request, but in my opinion, it was the least they could do.
I then asked her if there was an 800 number that I could call. She gave it to me but was very "sarcastic" toned. She said, "Yes there is, 1-800-USA-RAIL.....www.amtrak.com." Despite the extra, unrequested and unnecessary information, I politely thanked her & told her that we would be waiting for the 11:00 train to come.
I walked over to the seating area, dialed the number, and remained on hold. The wait time at the beginning of the call was "approximately 4 minutes". I waited 10 minutes. Literally.
While I was waiting, a gentleman entered the area that the lady whom I was working with was at. I obviously couldn't hear any of their conversation, but his presence is important to note.
When the representative finally answered, I politely explained to her our dilemma & asked if there was any way for our refund to be posted to one of our debit cards. She was very polite. She listened, seemed to understand my frustration, and seemed to really want to help me. She placed me on hold so that she could "call her customer service".
Prior to her placing me on hold, the gentleman previously mentioned walked out of the employee area (behind the counter), through the lobby where I was sitting, and then returned back to the employee area after maybe 2 minutes. Approximately 3 minutes after returning to the employee area, he called me up to the window. He asked me if I was the person waiting for a refund and at this time, the representative returned to the phoned. As the man was reviewing our tickets & looking up our reservation information, the representative was apologizing, explaining to us that it is up to the train station to determine how refunds are given. As she finished her sentence, the man, whom had not walked away from the register, opened the drawer & counted out $436. Right there. In our face.
While the employees at the STL Amtrak station remained polite, the fact that I had to go through so much for a refund was ridiculous. The majority of the employees in this company are insensitive to customers' time & money...they have no compassion for the inconvenience that they cause and it is a complete turnoff. I have ridden on Amtrak numerous times, and EVERY SINGLE TIME, there is either a problem with the trains being late, a problem with the trains breaking down while on the track while en route, and/or the conductors/employees on the train themselves are extremely arrogant & rude. I refuse to deal with them ever again, and if you are looking forward to arriving to a destination in a peaceful, comfortable mindset, Amtrak is NOT the way to travel.
Product or Service Mentioned: Amtrak Train Service.
Monetary Loss: $436.