“They laughed at me and told me to move to the end of the counter”

By | October 28th, 2009

bus lineupRob Gerlach’s bus was late. Really late.

He was traveling from Toronto to Rochester, NY, with a stopover in Buffalo on Greyhound, and not only did the motorcoach leave after its scheduled departure time, but the driver also got lost — he took the wrong highway exit. (Maybe there’s a job waiting for him at Northwest Airlines.) Gerlach missed his connection in Rochester, forcing him to wait another four hours for the next bus to Rochester.

And that’s when the trouble started.

I spoke with the Greyhound customer service in Buffalo and asked about the next bus. When I suggested that I would like a refund or some kind of voucher for a rental car (or both) so that I can get home and not have to wait – after all, my girlfriend is being inconvenienced twice in having to pick me up – I was told that they don’t do that there, particularly because it’s my fault I got the ticket I did.

I mentioned that I’m going to call Greyhound customer service department on my phone. They laughed at me and told me to move to the end of the counter.

The Buffalo Greyhound customer service desk even called the on-site transit police on me because while I moved to the end of the customer service desk as they asked, they soon changed their minds and arrogantly told me to go sit down. Evidently they didn’t like the fact that their “final answer” was being questioned by a traveler inferior to them, being that they have the transit police on-site to quash any annoyances.

Wait. They called the cops on him? I take that back. Maybe there’s a job waiting for these folks at the discount airline Jet2.

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A transit police officer walked toward me, baton twirling in his hand (he put it away as he approached me), and ordered me to go sit down while all I was doing was politely continuing a call to Greyhound customer service on my phone.

I told the transit officer that I’m just placing a call and have already moved over to the end of the counter, out of anyone’s way, as they originally asked, and that I’m just minding my own business and happen to be standing. But the transit officer didn’t care and reiterated, “Go. Sit. Down.”

Which I did.

I tried to find Greyhound’s ticket contract, but its Web site is vague about what is — and isn’t — promised to travelers.

Gerlach eventually caught the bus to Rochester, but he wanted to know if Greyhound owed him anything for the inconvenience. So I contacted the company on his behalf. A few days later, I got the following update from him, after a Greyhound representative phoned him:

She was quick to offer a refund of my $40 bus ticket without my even prompting. Additionally, she will be having the schedule timing looked at (so that others might not miss connections due to a bus not even being able to make it to the next terminal in time) as well as addressing the quality of the customer service desk people at the Buffalo location with the manager there.

In all, she was very professional and polite (even apologetic), and is doing an outstanding job. If you hadn’t guessed, she more than successfully addressed my issues. Thank you both for all your help!

I’m happy this was resolved to his satisfaction, but I wish it didn’t have to come to this.

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Why did a ticket agent call the police instead of addressing Gerlach’s concern? What are your rights as a Greyhound ticket-holder? And why isn’t the ticket contract clearly disclosed on its site?

(Photo: jamesacampbell/Flickr Creative Commons)

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