The number that pisses Amtrak off is H570


Last Monday, my partner and I had to visit a client in NYC.

Can't take the shuttle; the tunnel will kill you before you get to the airport.

So, for the first time ever, I decided to take the Acela from Route 128 to Penn Station in NYC because Penn Station is just five minutes' walk from the clients' office.

So, what does one do today when you book tickets? You book online, right? And while you're booking the tickets, when you come to the "enter promotional code" entry, you open a new window and search Google for "amtrak and discount."

It takes about five seconds to find the best discount. Here I found a code for 25% off. Bam! In goes the code and off come the bucks. Round trip BOS-NYC for about $125. Can't beat it. I'm happy, and thinking that if the train is nice, this might be the new thing.

But — and this is what I just can't believe — when I got to the station to pick up the tickets, the clerk balked, saying "there's been some abuse of H570." (He gave me the tickets anyway.)

Now, Amtrak really has to be tone deaf to think that if it sends its frequent prisoners a discount coupon it isn't going to be widely discussed by the inmates. And that those forums will get crawled. And that I would find it in a heartbeat.

Where did Amtrak think the emails would go?

Worse, their idiot marketers not only tried to put the genie back in the bottle, they asked their poor clerks to do it for them.  What is the clerk going to do, except piss off customers who have already bought and paid for discounted tickets?

You end up getting on the train all bent out of shape after having been confronted by the clerk, who really could care less but who has been ordered to police something I suspect they really don't understand.

After all this, the ride wasn't too bad (except for the conductor wearing an Amtrak uniform who when asked a question said, "I don't know. Ask Amtrak. I just punch the tickets."). But it sure doesn't make me want to ride the train again. I'm seeing H570 in my nightmares now. 






2 responses to “The number that pisses Amtrak off is H570”

  1. Alex Neihaus Avatar
    Alex Neihaus

    Hi, Tim,

    It’s not that the Acela trip was bad — it was that the people who work for Amtrak have such poor attitudes, I worked for a freight railroad once that had a contract to run commuter service around Boston once. We could never get people working on the commuter service to think much about customer service — basic things like saying, “thank you” to passengers when they bought tickets,. There’s a long tradition of sour relations between labor and management on US railroads…and for some reason this persists.

  2. Tim McCarthy Avatar
    Tim McCarthy

    As a railway Conductor in the UK, I would say do not judge the whole company or rail system on one journey. Not everyone is perfect, you might have a totally different experience next time.

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