Greyhound’s brand of highway robbery
Personally, I had thought the days of “Caveat Emptor” were far behind us. Warranties, insurance, refunds, and receipts–it’s impossible for a corporation to steal from one of the little people these days, isn’t it? I must have gotten too comfortable in this belief though, because this weekend Greyhound decided to show me who really is the boss. After purchasing bus tickets three weeks in advance and receiving a 14-day advance rate of $58 rather than $88, I was feeling pretty excellent about my decision to return to North Carolina over Columbus Day weekend. So there I was, one hour early just like the website advised, standing in line at Gate 6 to board my bus. Ten minutes before the bus was supposed to leave, the line began to move forward.
And eight minutes later, the line stopped. With just two girls in front of me destined for Florida, an apathetic young gentleman informed us that sorry, the bus had been overbooked and we would not be allowed on. I double-checked my ticket. Yes, I was right– this was indeed the 2:35 p.m. bus I had paid for three weeks ago. And it would take me to the 6:15 p.m. bus I had also paid for, but would be impossible for me to catch if I were to wait around for another Greyhound to depart. I questioned the validity of this to the attendant on hand, and received the helpful suggestion that I could leave my belongings on the floor and go off elsewhere for a few hours to mark my spot in line for the next bus.
Another hour’s wait in line to reach the customer service desk brought me the next rude reality: that despite the bus tickets I held in my hand with the exact times printed out that I had paid for and despite the fact that I had simply been unlucky enough not to have been standing in front of the Florida twins rather than behind, I was ineligible for a refund because I had bought my tickets in advance. When has thinking ahead of time paid off so poorly before? Perhaps Greyhound encourages an atmosphere of spontaneity. They surely can’t encourage an atmosphere of anything resembling actual customer service, because I left that afternoon feeling as though I had never been treated quite so poorly by personnel in my life. When I informed them that there was no possible way I could wait for two more hours to take the next bus headed to Richmond, VA, which would simply leave me stranded to wait for whatever was headed to Raleigh, NC, next, I was merely given something resembling a sneer and then a long yawn.
So that was that. I walked out of the Greyhound bus depot two hours after I arrived, $58 poorer, and with no physical capabilities of getting myself to North Carolina that weekend. Those who had made plans for my arrival were let down and had to readjust their weekends, and I had to decide what to do with myself now that I was unable to go.
Next time, I think I might try Amtrak.
-Alison Crowley, staff writer. Photo from Flickr user NCBrian.