Glen Brewer is an unashamed railroad enthusiast. He runs
a website that specializes in 19th century trains. And that made his email to me about his recent flight so noteworthy.
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The complimentary amenity kits on Amtrak’s Empire Builder service from Chicago to Portland and Seattle and Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Seattle vanished forever last month.
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Q uestion: I’ve been trying to resolve a problem with Amtrak, and have spent hours on “hold.” I need your help.
I recently purchased Amtrak tickets to Reno, Nev., on my American Express card. I paid $156 for the roundtrip ticket and in return, I received 11,000 rewards points, which allowed me to buy another roundtrip ticket.
There was a misunderstanding when I booked the second ticket, and my first ticket was somehow canceled.
I didn’t find out about the cancellation until I went to the train station in Emeryville to get my tickets. An Amtrak agent said I would have to spend another $236 for a ticket.
Since then, I’ve spent countless hours on the phone, including a three-way call between Amex, Amtrak and myself, to try to get this sorted out. They’ve asked me to mail proof of payment and proof that I’ve taken the trip, which I have done.
I just received a message from Amtrak that they will not refund the ticket. I have disputed the charge with American Express. Now what? —
Mel Jung, San Rafael, Calif.
Answer: When the erroneous cancellation was discovered, Amtrak should have found a way to reinstate them at the same price. That would have fixed the problem and prevented you from having to spend half an eternity on the phone to chase down a refund (your time is more valuable than that).
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