I had to take an Amtrak train from my home to Washington DC, something I actually don’t often do, despite my frequent use of Amtrak. It was the most convenient option for where I needed to be, and I used approximately 800 Amtrak Guest Rewards points in either direction – to Washington, and the return.
Unfortunately, it was a nightmare of a trip. It left Fredericksburg late and the delay continued in the hour or so ride to DC. Supposedly prior to Fredericksburg it encountered a broken freight train which they needed to assist, and then just before Alexandria, another train de-coupled some of its cars, and another maintenance issue occurred, causing another series of delays.
All in all, the train arrived about 4.5 hours late into Washington. The next day, I wrote to Amtrak complaining of the delay, well knowing that none of the incidents causing the delay were truly the fault of Amtrak. For those that don’t know, the series of tracks south of Washington DC are not owned by Amtrak, and passenger trains travel on the rails of several freight train companies. In short, freight trains take priority. So, while not directly at fault, Amtrak was at least partly responsible, especially considering I could have made the drive in 3 hours less time than what it took to take the train.
Amtrak surprisingly responded with a $40 Amtrak voucher.
Dear Amtrak Customer,
Thank you for choosing Amtrak. Please save or print this page for your records.
An electronic Transportation Voucher was created for you. This Transportation Voucher may be used as payment toward future Amtrak travel. Please review the following Transportation Voucher information:
- Transportation Vouchers can only be redeemed by the person to whom it was issued (proper identification required).
- The Transportation Voucher is valid for one time use, and any remaining unused value will be forfeited upon redemption.
- The person to whom this Transportation Voucher is issued must be one of the travelers on the reservation.
- Transportation Vouchers expire one year after issuance.
- Transportation Vouchers are redeemable at station ticket offices, by phoning 800-USA-RAIL, or at Amtrak.com.
Amtrak Office of Customer Relations
60 Massachusetts Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002
So, all in I spent about 2,000 points, and got in return a $40 voucher. In this case, I value the voucher more than a return of the points I had spent on this trip, so I do believe I was fairly compensated.
In all honesty, I try to avoid taking the train now that I have access to discounts, elite status and preferred pricing through SELECT – which more than outweigh the membership fee I pay every year.
Do you believe $40 is compensation for a 4.5 hour delayed train?
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