Trying to get Amtrak reservations

I have persuaded my mother to come out to Door County for a visit, but she is afraid to fly and she doesn’t like to travel alone, so I am going to fly out at the end of October and we are planning to take a train back here.  Making train reservations has taken us twenty-four hours of frustration!

I first called Mom last night and told her I’d found a good train itinerary and I needed her card info to make the reservation.  She gave me the card number, but it was declined.  That shouldn’t have happened, but she tried giving me another card number and it almost went through and then said there was a problem.  It was late for her, so we agreed to try again this morning.

I called back this morning and we still had problems completing the process and I had to get to work, so we agreed to try again this evening.  In the meantime, Mom called her card company and explained the situation to them.  They said that she usually only makes small charges, so that’s why they declined it, but they would approve it next time.  Mom called me at work to tell me we were a “go” for tonight.

After dinner this evening, I called Mom and we tried it again, but her card was still declined, and her debit card again said that there was something wrong with the info I was entering even though I double-checked everything with Mom.

I found a customer service number for Amtrak and asked Mom to call them and try to deal with a person.  She called me back a couple of minutes later and said that when she called the number, she was waiting for a while and then a recording came on with a survey about how her experience had been.  She said, “I hope I used the right numbers on the survey to let them know my experience was bad!”

I tried the customer service number and almost got through to a human, but I had to hang up because I didn’t have Mom’s card info.  I tried calling Mom back but got no answer.  Finally, she called me back.  I told her that I was going to try to do a conference call with two phones since I’m not sure how to do it with one.  We hung up and I got a human at Amtrak and then called Mom on my cell phone.

I held the two phones up together so they could hear each other and things were going well until Mom said she wanted to use her points on the reservation.  We were transferred to the member services number, but instead, we got that blasted survey again!  (Excuse my French.)

I hung up and dialed again.  I told the person on the line that we wanted the member services number, but the person I was speaking with thought he could handle it.  We gave him all the info we had already given and he said, “Oh!  You already have a reservation.”  I explained to him again, curtly, that we were trying to get to member services so that we could have Mom’s points applied, so he transferred us.  I half expected another snafu, however, we did get through to member services only to find out that Mom didn’t have enough points to apply to our reservation.  So we got transferred back to a person where we could make the payment.

I explained to the woman that I had two phones in my hand and that my mother was on the other phone.  I tried to hold the phones up so that they could hear each other, but it wasn’t working so I ended up translating between them.  Finally, the reservation was made and paid for and I could hear Mom’s computer ding when the eTicket came through.  Mom thanked the woman profusely and she laughed and said, “You’re welcome, Mom!”

When she hung up, Mom and I both said, “Phew!” to each other.  Then we realized that the trip insurance we had intended to add on didn’t get added.  I told Mom, “You’re committed.  You can’t back out now!”  We were almost giddy at finally having train tickets!

Next, I need to make a flight reservation…

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