90 Minutes With Amtrak.com

I’m traveling by train next week. This morning, Amtrak .com wouldn’t let me log into my account with my password, which I have never changed, and which Amtrak.com now says is “incorrect.” When I eventually clicked the “Reset password” link (duh, so Amtrak would send an email with a link allowing me to reset my password), Amtrak thanked me and then never sent that email.

I know they didn’t send that mail. I checked Spam, Trash, Junk, and Junk Mail (I don’t know why my Gmail offers all four of those); ran Gmail searches on amtrak.com; and sent the “Reset password” request several times to be sure Amtrak was definitely not mailing me the “Reset password” email after failing to recognize my password.

Well, when a company no longer accepts your password, and when it will not let you create a new one (because the “Reset password” button does nothing), your next option is simply to give up all your miles and just start a new account, using an alternate email address and creating a new password for that account.

I waited 90 minutes before attempting to do so, in case Amtrak, due to an overloaded gateway or poor engineering, was simply experiencing an extraordinary delay prior to sending “Reset password” emails. Patience is not my chief virtue; anxiety around even familiar, comfortable travel impels me to ward off panic attacks by acting too fast for my own good. But today I did not do that. Today I waited the full 90 minutes.

Then I filled in all the fields at Amtrak.com to create a new account, wrote down my new sign-in information so I’d be able to use it again in the future, and hit “Register.”

At which point Amtrak sent me the following error message:

Due to a system issue, we are currently unable to process your request. Try again later. [Error ID: 1009C]

So my guess is that my original password was probably correct, that Amtrak’s backend simply isn’t functioning correctly, and that when Amtrak can’t connect to its database, it sends incorrect error messages by default, i.e. “your password was wrong” instead of “we cannot connect to our database.”

(I say “backend” and “database” rather than “site” because my Amtrak phone app also bumped me out, and won’t let me sign in. So the problem isn’t specific to the web experience.)

I have only two problems: software and people.