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Incompetent vendors - How to screw up a journey

Featuring Amtrak, FedEx, Ravenwood Towers

I'm travelling by Amtrak this week. Last week, I reserved tickets on-line and paid for these to be delivered using FedEx Express delivery.

It was supposed to be overnight delivery. I waited for 5 days. Then I called Amtrak. They have a speech-recognition enabled 1-800 number - no wonder why it is running under loss. The customer service agent gave me TWO tracking numbers, and warned me one of them is wrong!

I was asked to call FedEx and find out where the tickets went to. When I inquired what I need to do in case they are not able to find it, Amtrak was adamant that I needed to buy new tickets. Looking at their documentation, I need original tickets to get a refund.

So, I went to They claim that they tried to deliver the package next day. They claim that I was not available. This is simply a lie. They left it at the rental office; and did not leave me any clue indicating they have done that.

My rental office (RavenWood Towers) did their usual trick of tossing it aside and not entering the information in the ledger. Anyway, when I went to inquire, they found the package and I got it.


I'm going to rely on US Postal Service from now on. My local post office is excellent.

Anyway, this story has a happy ending, since I got the tickets.

  1. To Whom It May Concern:

    I am sending this letter in hopes of gaining a responsible reaction to a incident that occurred in your Shady Grove, Maryland store on about the 26th of March 2004 at about 9 pm est.
    Approximately three quarters of a year ago, I had installed a Sound Blaster card to go along with some gaming software that was all purchased from your store at Shady Grove. I had also recently added a 60 gigabyte hard drive to my computer. My “C” drive, recently, had too many programs I added to it so I moved a lot of the programs to the new hard drive to make space. What I was unfamiliar with was one cannot move programs without corrupting them and so I had to do a systems restore because my Microsoft Works Word Processor would not work. Upon doing the systems restore I found that the hardware for the Sound Blaster would not work. I tried for 2 days incessantly to reload the drivers to no avail. I took my CPU to your store in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia to have them do it for me. They had the computer for one day and when I came back to get it they said that they had failed in their attempts also. They suggested that I return the sound card to my original place of purchase due to me not having a readily available receipt. The situation was I paid cash for the whole purchase so the representative in the service department for computers said they could not look up the purchase. He said that all stores keep a personal log of purchases of cash transactions and that I had to go back to Shady Grove to have them look up the purchase to find out exactly when it was purchased to see if it was still under warranty. Otherwise he would have done an exchange for me on the spot. He was very cordial and comfortable to deal with. So I went back to the Shady Grove store.
    When I arrived I was explaining to the computer service technician what the problem was and inadvertently called the store Circuit City. At this time and in the middle of my explanation and in the midst of correcting my misstatement, the service tech started to laugh and joke with a customer about my mistake. I was flustered. I tried to continue and had to wait for them to stop laughing and for the technician to refocus on me and went on to explain my situation. At this time the tech turned to another employee and started talking to him, basically ignoring me again. I stopped again to allow for him to finish whatever it was he saw fit to do. When he turned back to face me I asked, “ So I guess what I have to say is just not necessary?” He looked at me and said, “I heard you, the card doesn’t work.” I responded, “I was trying to explain to you something so you would have the best possible understanding of the situation so you could make the best possible decision to help me.” But he just blew me off basically. Ignoring me and my inability to understand his indifference, he plugged some things into the computer and acted like I had offended him and exclaimed to me while I protested his crass and rude behavior, “Look, you should be happy I am trying to help you, I don’t have to do this. I am doing you a favor by helping you for free. I don’t have to.“ I told him, “I came here to get my computer fixed and I don’t care if I have to pay for it I came to spend money but I don’t understand why you are so rude when all I was trying to do was explain to you what was wrong so you could best know how to help me.” And then he just walked away from the counter. Didn’t say a word to me after the last sentence. Just walked away leaving me standing there having to figure out for myself what he was doing. And he left for a substantial amount of time, at least 20 minutes. What I surmised was that he was trying to down load the drivers from the disk that I had brought along just in case. So I sought out a manager to get help, because by this time I was incensed. I mean, put yourself in my place. You come into a place you frequent, spend thousands of dollars a year in, belong to the Business Club and are constantly visiting to make purchases and you are confronted with crass rudeness, indifference and hostility as if you are some street corner thug. It is unthinkable! Upon finding the manager, a sales manager who only gave me his first name, I explained to him what had just transpired. He was a bit occupied and asked me to wait at the counter pending his arrival which I did. When he came over he had a few words with the technician after which at such time he basically came over to the counter and started reprimanding me. He sided with the employee, started to quote store policy, reprimand me for being indecisive, not having a receipt, not being familiar with store policy and expecting them to bend over backwards for me, which is hardly what I came expecting. Just expected customer service. He started issuing me ultimatums and was very belligerent when I couldn‘t compose myself long enough to come to any conclusion because of fragmented feedback from him with open ended solutions that just gave me the details of steps that would be taken with no sure resolution. I was shocked not to mention angry that I had to be subjected to this kind of indifferent abuse which really came across as bias. He also said that the Tyson’s Corner store people were liars, that he had no way of looking up the cash receipt and questioned my telling the truth about what they said concerning that, inferred I was lying about buying the merchandise there, when I bought it and that I was even a customer because he had never “seen“ me before. He was basically venting and treating me like some subordinate. His tone, mannerisms indifference and abrupt rudeness all suggested bias, hostility, indifference and impatience. This was evidenced by him just walking away and saying in a crass condescension, “Have a good day.” in the end. He offered no help what so ever in the end. When asked him is name, he boastfully volunteered it to me in a fashion unafraid of reprimand as if he was immune to it. When he told me his title, Sales manager, I could not help but murmur to myself, “Right now.” To which he walked over to the counter confrontationally while laughing at me, asking me if I was threatening him and called me a funny guy. He initially was walking away from the counter until he heard me mutter in disgust. Then he contested, boastingly, “yes you did threaten me, my job, you said ‘right now.’ I am not worried about a funny little guy like you, you can’t threaten my job.” I highly resent this and to be honest I will never go to that store again so help me if I do not need to. The only condition I would go there is if I am with a companion who expresses the need to get something at the spur of the moment and we happen to be there, at which time I will insist that we go elsewhere and give them full explanation as to why I do not want to go there. I find this situation to be harassing, intimidating, reprehensible and unnerving. I have never seen an employee with such liberty to abuse people verbally and arrogantly with absolutely no fear, and such assurances of job security, in my life. I even, upon going back to your Tyson’s Corner store with the whole tale of this misadventure, heard employees there, who know of this mans reputation, exclaim their impression of him as being a man of a vulgar personality. It is amazing you allow someone with this demeanor contact with the public. Especially when he arrogantly postures himself as indomitable He presented himself as a threat to me and a force to be reckoned with and I personally was shaken for the rest of that evening by the whole pariah. I was askance about even returning to the Tyson’s Corner store due to being shaken and unsure of how I would be received after being bounced back and forth. When I did return the tech looked up my name and purchase history on the computer to resolve the issue after I asked to speak to him and the store manager to resolve this disgusting dilemma. All the sales manager had to do was the same thing, but chose to be combatant. I would like to file this formal protest and I would like to have someone who is in authority, not a District Manager, not a Regional Manager, but someone who will not be bias and who does not have a friendly rapport with this Sales manager, Nick, to investigate this man who has such a strong hold on job security that customers are the object of his venting and disdain. I do secret shopping for different organizations and I can tell you now, you have a huge problem. Please respond.

    Posted by: S. A. Lewis on May 5, 2004 11:34 AM