I did not think that I was booking a complicated trip. Bus service is supposed to be for the common folk, not the kind of “Coach” tours that you have in Europe or the VIP tours you have in the US where they have mapped out all the stops and once you pay your tour fee, you’re relieved of all your worry. I don’t get to see my oldest son very much as he lives several states away, and though he’s busy, he’s not gainfully employed. So on the holidays, if I don’t send him a bus ticket, he can’t come. Thanksgiving! Woohoo! Time to get online and get all the details done.
A month ahead of when you want to take the trip, you get on the Greyhound website and pick your dates. You do this for the same reason you buy your plane tickets 3-4 months in advance: the price goes up as you get closer to your departure date. I have Tuesdays mostly free, so I figured if he could arrive on a Tuesday it would accommodate my schedule. You get onto the site and it asks you for the dates you want outbound and inbound. I set the dates. It asks you to choose which route, and I choose one that makes it more likely that my son can get a ride to the bus station and one that allows me to take him to the local station at a reasonable hour for him to go home. Then it asks you for your coupon code. I leave that blank, I have no coupon code. Then it asks for you email and your payment details. Checked that off. For some reason, it doesn’t ask for the name of the passenger. Maybe it’s on the next page. I hit “submit.” The transaction doesn’t go through. Search through all the page to find anything highlighted. Nothing highlighted, it just doesn’t go through. Check the whole document and for some reason, it’s put my email address into the coupon code and says it’s an invalid code. Well OF COURSE IT’S AN INVALID CODE! It’s my EMAIL! I erase the email address, scroll to the bottom of the document and push submit again. There isn’t a 2nd page that gives details on the passenger, and I get an email confirmation that I WILL BE TRAVELING. I’m not traveling, my son is. I recheck the document. I call customer service.
After 2 minutes of waiting for someone to answer the phone, I notice a chat feature on the site. I push Chat. I get the little time indicator saying my request for a chat is being processed. 2 more minutes waiting for someone to answer the phone. I get a question on the chat, “What can I help you with?” It’s one of those phrases that chat help puts up automatically. You KNOW the person at the other end of the line doesn’t want to type that out every time some person wants to chat. They hit the button and the initial question automatically pops up. How do I know that? Because if there WAS a person at the other end of the chat, it wouldn’t take so long to answer your question. Still no answer on the phone. I hang up. “For some reason, when I submitted my payment for the ticket, it didn’t put the right name on the passenger. It has my name on it instead. How can I fix this?” Wait… wait… wait… See? I knew this chat wasn’t Live the way we understand it. It leads me to one conclusion: Customer Service Chat uses zombies. I go to Face Book to pass the time while the little back and forth dots indicate that someone might answer my question. 2 minutes later. “Tickets are nontransferable and nonrefundable.” I know that. So I type back, “That doesn’t help me with my problem.” “Didn’t you read the directions? You have to put the name of the passenger on the form.” “There was no place to put it.” “You missed it. Did you check the box that said the ticket was a gift?” “Where was that?” “Right beneath the scheduling details.” “I didn’t see it.” “Well that’s where it was.” “How do I make sure that my son can make the trip then?” “Tickets are nontransferable and nonrefundable.” “So I just made a donation to Greyhound?” “Yes.” “So if I didn’t have enough money to pay for two trips, I’d be out of luck?” “Yes, you have to read the directions.” “So….not your problem?” “Not my problem that you refuse to read directions. You can’t blame me if you’re incapable of following simple directions.” What. A. Bastid! He must have had a bad day.
Start the whole process over. Found the stupid box. Did you know they charge extra if you don’t use the ticket yourself? Oh, and after you enter your email address, you MUST go up and take your email out of the coupon box. It automatically shows up there every time because you don’t know how to turn off the Chrome autofill feature that is supposed to make things easier. Now that that’s been cleared, you have to re-fill out the information and re-enter the gift recipient’s name or it defaults to your name again. HA! Not going to get me this time!!! Submit. It submits! Yay! Send tickets to son. Repeat process for Christmas trip. I have now spent $700+ so my son can see his family for the holidays, $262 of which was a donation to Greyhound to keep their profits in the black. Since it is a private company instead of publicly traded, the only information that’s available is the earnings report. Their profit was down 16,000,000 British Pounds since the same time last year. Well now, I’ve contributed to their bottom line.
So the story’s over right? NOOOOO. What? There’s More?
I didn’t check on the actual route my son was taking. He was to leave at 10:30 AM or so, travel from Norman to OKC to Tulsa to KCMO to Des Moines to Omaha. 4 different buses, one without plugins or wifi. I had to pick him up Wednesday Morning at 1:30. Remember that I had Tuesday as my chosen date of arrival? He spent 14 hours on the bus. I hadn’t chosen Tuesday for the arrival date, I’d chosen it as his departure date from OK. I picked him up and found an IHOP where he got to eat for the 1st time since lunch the previous day. We got home about 3:00 AM. This is the day before Thanksgiving. So if there’s going to be food tomorrow, I have to cook today. I get up about 9:00 and start. Turkey is frozen solid so I set it in the sink. (I had put the turkey in the refrigerator on Saturday per instructions of the FDA…liars.) My son spends the whole day in bed recovering. 14 hour bus trips are not the best way to spend a day. Thursday, we have our Thanksgiving dinner and watch our football. I have my Turkey Coma nap. Friday we see little indications that our son is alive and well and truly visiting his loving parents. “Hi Mom. Hi Dad.” Hello son. About midnight, he comes up and says, “I’ve missed my bus…”
Now I find out the rest of the story, he’d also missed his initial bus in Norman, it didn’t come. What he didn’t know was that there are two bus stops in Norman, and he was at the wrong one. Norman has a population of about 110k people. Why does it have 2 bus stops? His friend had to drive him to Oklahoma City to catch the next leg of his trip. I was confused about him missing the bus from Omaha though. He showed me his ticket. It said Boarding at 11:41 PM Saturday. This was Friday. Then he showed me the next ticket on his transfer in Kansas City. Boarding at 8:00 AM Saturday. I checked his tickets again. Departure was 12:01 AM Saturday, not Sunday. If he left Omaha Saturday night, how could he leave Kansas City on Saturday morning? If he didn’t catch the bus in Kansas City, he’d have to stay here until January. I’d be out another $183 for a new one way ticket if we got him another trip for a later time this week, or he’d miss getting his bills paid and might be in danger of having utilities shut off and losing his apartment. So since his KC bus was leaving at 8:00 AM Saturday and it was a 3 hour drive…we jumped in the car at 3:00 AM and drove. It cost me $45 in gas and $30 for breakfast at St. Joe, and 7 hours of driving. His tickets for December are the same, pick him up Monday morning at O Dark Thirty and send him to the bus station a day before his ticket says…(Wednesday at 12:01 AM is when his bus leaves, so I have to get him there Tuesday at 11:40 instead of Wednesday 11:40.)
So Greyhound! Get your act together! Print the tickets correctly!