…and they ain’t no friends of mine.
DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT BUYING THAT TICKET.
The scene: daybreak. A quiet, dusty road pierces the horizon, seemingly endless as it divides country fields. At a nameless intersection sits a small bench, and on that small bench sits a girl. Next to her, a giant suitcase, and in her hand – a bus ticket. As she watches the steady, dependable bus approaching from the distance, she feels her fears subside – her new life is about to begin.
If I remember correctly, I think the story I was telling myself about the beginning of my journey into my new life was something like that. The reality, however, was a lot different – and that’s all thanks to the terrible people at Greyhound Bus!
In March of last year, I was finally ready to go to England for an extended stay. Since I would be there for so long, I had to sell my car – but that left me in a predicament. How would I get from my small town of Dothan, Alabama to the Atlanta airport? I thought I had the solution: a Greyhound bus! It was romantic, it was affordable, it was old-fashioned, it was practical…
…it was a nightmare.
From the very beginning, I should’ve seen the red flags. I had purchased my ticket online, but needed to change the date – which I had to do in person at the station. When I arrived to my local bus stop, this was in the ticket window.
Fortunately for me, it was 12:28! I knew she’d be back in a moment and I could take care of my ticket.
By 12:44, I started to get frustrated. Another customer who was waiting (there were a few) approached me and told me she had gone to speak to the clerk at the adjoining store. She had been told “Good luck. Maybe she’ll be back by 2 pm.” Apparently, this was a common occurrence.
By around 1:00 pm, I decided to call Greyhound customer service. After waiting on the phone, I was hung up on as I was on hold. But that’s okay, right? It happens sometimes. Just an error? I called them again, trying to keep myself calm. As I stood outside waiting to speak to them, the missing employee pulled up, only 40 minutes late.
Well, that was annoying, but I guess it happens. There was a charge to change my ticket, but that was okay with me. For some reason, they couldn’t accept card payments – which I found very outdated – but thankfully, I had some cash on me for once. I was able to pay the fee to change my ticket and I was all set. Looking back at my texts, I have to smile sadly the one that says:
Kay, [31.03.17 14:14]
Hope there’s no complications on Sunday
Oh, you poor, clueless fool.
April 2nd came – the day for me to catch my bus into the city – the day before my flight to London. My car had already been sold, and I was ready to catch my cab to the bus station. I checked out of my hotel room and waited to start my epic journey.
My bus would depart at 9:40 am. When I arrived to the station at 8:10 am, there was a bus there. Excitedly, I wondered if it could be mine, early? Maybe I could go ahead and board, put in my earbuds, get comfortable and wait for departure. I asked the late lady – who was actually here this time! – but I was getting ahead of myself. That bus wasn’t mine. That was fine – I was happy to wait on a bench for my chariot to arrive.
The bus was scheduled to arrive by 9:20 am… so I waited.
By about 8:50, the place was kind of buzzing. There were a few passengers waiting already, and I could overhear some conversations.
The bus was cancelled.
Cancelled? How could that happen? How could a bus just… cancel? I had no vehicle. I had checked out of my hotel. I was at this bus station with nowhere to go in this small town, and a hotel already booked for tonight in the city. How could a bus just… cancel?
I spoke to the employee, who was not at all helpful. She couldn’t confirm whether the bus would come. I called Greyhound to ask them what my options were, just in case. The crowd started to grow as people arrived, waiting on the uncertain bus. One man, I remember, was scheduled for a job interview in the city the next morning that was very important to him. If the bus didn’t come, he would never get the position. He was so upset.
Turns out, the rumours were true. The bus was not coming.
I was told that I wouldn’t be eligible to get any of my money back until the next day. The employee gave me two options if I wanted to continue with Greyhound:
- Wait for six hours for the next bus – but this bus wouldn’t even be going to the same destination (the airport). It would drop me off in the middle of downtown Atlanta at 11:00 pm. Being a woman on my own, this did NOT seem like a good option.
- Catch another bus DIRECTLY to the airport tomorrow – the day of my flight to London – trusting that there would be no cancellations or delays. (Ha! After what I had seen so far, this did NOT seem like a good option.)
At exactly 9:20 am, when the bus should have been arriving, the Greyhound employee who had notoriously gone missing before decided it was a great time for her to take off out of there. Perfect timing for the arrival of the rest of the soon-to-be befuddled and upset passengers, who now had no one to talk to or help them.
I was mortified.
What could I do? I felt that my only option was to blow my budget and plans, and rent a car to drive myself to the city hotel I had booked. Thankfully, they had a shuttle to and from the airport, and once I was there, I would be okay.
I figured I would eventually throw a fit with Greyhound, and get them to reimburse some of my travel costs. (Hahaha. You poor, clueless fool.)
I found the best price on a rental car – which ended up being from National at the Dothan Airport (GIANT shout-out to them, they ended up being amazing, and they were open Sunday which was a huge help). My credit balance was slightly too high to get the car rented, so I called up Capital One (who do customer service right, Greyhound, take a lesson!!!). They were so helpful. It was a Sunday, so they couldn’t clear a payment that day to lower my balance. So, to help me out – Capital One increased my credit limit enough to get me into the rental car. Amazing.
My cab got me to National Car Rental, where I had reserved the cheapest option for my trip to Atlanta. The woman at the counter was fantastic and so understanding as I told her about my experience. She gave me a smile and told me they would set me up. She gave me the keys and directed me out to my car.
In a state of absolute bliss and shock, I tried to figure out how to start the thing. It was seriously a work of art.
I felt like I was in a spaceship. But it uplifted my mood. Forget that hopeless girl on the dirty road in the middle of nowhere, waiting on the grubby bus. This was leaving town in style.
The happy coincidence of my yellow shirt wasn’t entirely a coincidence; I was wearing yellow as a power-colour to strengthen my solar plexus (personal power!) and make myself brave. Very interesting to find myself in a yellow car, too!
The open road finally brought me to my hotel, and the airport, and my flight, and eventually: to London… no thanks to the terrible people at Greyhound Bus.
The mess with Greyhound wasn’t quite over. I called them from England, demanding reimbursement. I found their Facebook Page, and more interestingly, I found the visitor posts to the page. There was horror story after horror story. People had missed funerals. People were threatening lawsuits. People had been yelled at and insulted by drivers, unable to get refunds, and worse. Seriously, click the link. Just read a few reviews, and you will never consider using this company.
Greyhound, of course, refused to reimburse me for any of my travel expenses or the car I had to rent. They did promise to send me a check to refund the bus ticket. A few months later, I received this:
That’s right. You see it correctly. A blank letter. No check. A blank, unfilled form letter in an envelope. Really, Greyhound? REALLY??!?
It would be another few months before they successfully refunded me my $30. But I learned some IMPORTANT lessons from this experience:
- NEVER USE GREYHOUND.
- NEVER USE GREYHOUND.
- Always read reviews.
- NEVER USE GREYHOUND.
- National Car Rental and Capital One are amazing.
Any travel horror stories of your own? Have you ever used Greyhound Bus? Tell me your story in the comments!