Don't be Amtrak

The first excursion train in Alaska, Skagway, Alaska
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The first excursion train in Alaska, Skagway, Alaska

I was recently traveling to NYC with Amtrak. It’s not a bad deal, for what you pay. Plus, I don’t have to drive myself; which is the biggest selling point for me. Not a fan of driving for many hours. But this last trip on Amtrak was different. I learned something new about Amtrak that pissed me off. Lost your ticket? Buy a new one!

The representative was calm in explaining why they charge for new tickets, even if you lost it. Apparently, back in the day people would say they lost it so they could get a refund later. So, Amtrak decided to screw everyone else and start charging for lost tickets.

OK, I see why they would do it. They want to make sure they won’t lose money. But it’s 2011! If we can track individual’s location with GPS in real-time, don’t you think we can track if they got on a train or not? This is a simple case of being cheap and extremely lazy on Amtrak’s part.

Remember in the old movies on a train the conductor would walk around punching holes in the paper tickets? Well, if you’ve been on an Amtrak train lately you don’t have to think too hard about it. They still punch holes in paper tickets. People were smarter than Amtrak and ripped them off.

UPS and Fedex have scanners to update the system about delivery status. Why can’t Amtrak use a simple scanner to track passengers? Stop screwing  passengers. If I lost my ticket, issue me a new one and let your system know that Viktor Nagornyy has a new ticket issued and void my lost ticket. How hard is that? Really?

Amtrak is really dragging about 10 years behind current technology. No WiFi on the trains. Come on, my local buses have WiFi on them. Freaking planes have WiFi on them. If a Greyhound bus can have WiFi on it, than any moving machine can have WiFi. But Amtrak? Nope, no WiFi. Amtrak’s new motto should be: Never late to bore you. There’s really no excuse for not having WiFi on the trains anymore. This is not 2005. We’ve grown you know, we need WiFi to stay connected.

So don’t be Amtrak. Stay current on the technology that will make your customers happy. Making their lives easier by providing easy to use service, friendly service, and quality service with those fringe extras is an awesome way to retain them. If you screw your customers over and over again, you will be screwed by your customers in return.

Don’t be the caveman of your industry. Stay current on innovations in your industry. But don’t forget to talk to your customers. Simply ask, what makes you happy? Once you do ask, LISTEN. Clearly Amtrak doesn’t like to listen to their customers. Otherwise they would have WiFi on their trains and not rip off their customers when they simply lost their ticket.

One happy customer is better than a $2,000,000 billboard in Times Square.