Amtrak's Service Glitch

The railroad's paper-only policy ruins one customer's weekend.

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Last weekend, my friend Karen was robbed at gunpoint while traveling in New Haven, Conn. Her wallet, which included her Amtrak ticket home, was stolen, along with her credit cards and identification. When she called Amtrak to replace her ticket (she had her reservation number), she was told that it was impossible and that she would have to purchase a new ticket. When she explained that she had no cash or credit cards because her wallet had been stolen, the customer service representative rudely told her to call her parents and have them buy her a new one.

Karen's experience made me wonder: Why doesn't Amtrak offer the same kind of E-tickets as airlines? At the very least, why couldn't it cancel the old ticket and issue her a new one?

I called Karina Romero, Amtrak spokeswoman, to find out. She says Amtrak is simply unable to replace lost tickets. "Our tickets are like money," she says. "We can't reprint them like airlines can." When I told her about the "call your parents" comment, she acknowledged that it was inappropriate and said that Karen must have caught the customer service representative on a bad day.

Bad day or not, this level of customer service seems a bit lacking to me. Readers, have you had better (or worse) experiences with Amtrak?