Travels with Greyhound, Part 2:
Don’t talk to me at midnight. Actually, don’t talk to me after 10pm if you want to speak with a rational person. As the night wears on, and my snack levels drop, I become increasingly emotional and decreasingly reasonable. It past 11pm when my Greyhound bus compatriots decided that we were taking matters into our own hands as our departure time came and went without a bus to take us away. They, a higher class of people than usually ride Greyhound – and therefore believed themselves entitled to service for payment – cried out for all of us to flood the Greyhound hotline. In the spirit of unity and getting the hell out of Dodge, I joined in and called them up.
The first person I spoke to was Kevin. Kevin seemed nice. I showed him no mercy.
“How can I help?” he asked. Poor, innocent Kevin, I thought.
“I’m in the Greyhound station and my bus isn’t here.” I declared. “You can tell me when it’s going to arrive,” I added pointedly.
“Ma’am, can you confirm your name and ticket?”
“So, I’m in Texas at the hotline, I’m not there in your station,” Kevin explained slowly and clearly. “I don’t know when your bus will arrive. You need to ask the people who work there. You can -”
“I’ve already done that,” I interrupted. Raising my voice so that Kevin could hear me over the Greyhound staffer informing the rest of the riders that they had no idea what was going on – or why we were there. “I have spoken to the staff here. They just came on duty. They know nothing.”
“Ok, ma’am,” Kevin tried placating me, “but I can’t help you because I’m not there -”
“But I’m here!” I cried out. “And no one knows, and I have to go home and I don’t know what to do and,” I let my voice break a little as it spiraled out of control, “I need to go and I don’t know how I’m going to get there and if there’s another bus and what I can do and I need to call and no one here can help and they said to call you.”
“Oh, um, I’m not sure who told you that,” Kevin said nervously. “I really don’t know what to do.”
“Can you tell me how I can get home?” I asked in a trembling voice.
“No,” Kevin said carefully. “But you can call -”
“But I already called you!” I cried, with tears in my voice. “I paid for a ticket and now what am I going to do?”
“Maybe you could get a refund? I really cannot help you,” Kevin insisted. Kevin was clearly a lost cause. I decided to wrap it up.
“Do you know the next bus is coming?” I asked, in a business tone.
“No, but you can call the station you’re going to,” Kevin said with relief, now that I sounded like a reasonable person.
“May I have the number please?” I asked in my politest tone. Kevin complied, and I hung up.
I called my destination, and woman who answered told me straight out that she didn’t know the bus schedules, didn’t know what happened to the bus I was supposed to be on, didn’t know the number for customer service. Her tone implied that even if she did know, she wouldn’t tell me, because that was not her job. I hung up with her and conferred with my fellow passengers. A well-groomed man with a leather-grain bag told me that he’d gotten a complaint number from his customer service rep so he could file a claim later, and there would be a record of what had occurred. Determined to do the same, I called back the hotline.
This time, my customer service representative was Ana. Ana greeted me and I demanded a complaint number.
“What is your issue?” Ana asked politely.
“I already discussed this with Kevin,” I informed her.
“I don’t have that record, ma’am,” she said in a tone that implied she’d negotiated with plenty of toddlers. I ran through the situation with. She gave me the number, and I informed her that it would function for both myself and my sister, and confirmed that she was unable to help me. She didn’t agree with any of my conclusions, but offered no assistance. I thanked Ana, and we hung up.
The bus arrived within the next hour, after someone on staff confirmed that all of us with tickets were waiting for a scheduled bus – and then rushed to rouse an off-duty driver in Queens to come in and take us away. We arrived a few hours late the next day, all of us in one piece. It was only after the ride, inspired by privileged passengers who believed they were entitled to a refund when service was bad, that my adventures with Greyhound’s customer service began in earnest.