SuperShuttle Not So Super, Maybe Duper

Sara writes in about a horrible experience she had last week with the Manhattan franchise of the airport van service, SuperShuttle. The driver arrived early and yelled at her for not being downstairs. He was surly with her and the other passengers. He frequently parked illegally and was given a ticket by the police.

Arriving at the airport, she exited the van, no doubt relieved to be off the hell-train and eager to make her plane that was leaving in 30 minutes. However, the ride’s discomfort proved only the appetizer for the shock that greeted her when opened the back door to retrieve her luggage…

Here’s the letter of complaint she mailed to SuperShuttle:

    “April 4, 2006

    SuperShuttle Manhattan
    52-15 11th Street
    Long Island City, NY 11101

    Re: Refund for FedEx Shipping Fee, Complaint # XXXXX

    Dear Customer Service Manager,

    I had arranged and pe-paid for a SuperShuttle trip this past month. My ride was scheduled to pick me up on 3/22/2006 at 3:00 PM. My credit card was billed accordingly.

    My experience from start to finish was absolutely horrible. The driver showed up at my office 20 minutes early, and then yelled at me for not being downstairs. He was rude to me and the other passengers, and kept parking illegally and leaving the van during pickups. At one point, he pulled over to pick someone up, and disappeared for 15 minutes! I watched an NYPD officer give him a parking ticket! It was absolutely absurd.

    These annoyances are not even the reason I am writing. I am writing because, when the driver dropped me off at the American Airlines terminal, I got out of the van, went around to the back and discovered that one of my pieces of luggage was missing. My flight was leaving in 30 minutes, so I had no choice but to get on the plane. Needless to
    say I was extremely distraught. The driver said he would go back and check the terminals where he dropped off the other passengers, and that he would call my cell phone. I never heard from him again. In the meantime, I called SuperShuttle to report my missing luggage, and was given the complaint # XXXXXX.

    Just as I was about to board my plane, I received a call from British Airways. My luggage had been found IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD outside the British Airways terminal. As I needed the contents of the luggage for various meetings the next couple of days, British Airways agreed to ship the luggage if I provided them with a FedEx number.

    I called on 3/30 to report that the luggage had been found, and to ask for reimbursement for the FedEx fee. The SuperShuttle operator told me the information would be sent to the NY office and that someone would
    contact me. I have not heard from anybody.

    I am disappointed that, due to the carelessness of your driver, my luggage fell out of the van into the middle of the road. To resolve the problem I require you to reimburse me for the $119.63 FedEx fee I was required to pay (see attached invoice).

    I look forward to hearing from you and to a resolution of this problem. Please feel free to contact me at the above address or by phone.

    Yours sincerely,

    XXXXX XXXXXX”

We suggest that if this letter generates no response, Sara call and complain to the Super Shuttle corporate office at 1-800-BLUE-VAN (258-3826). There’s nothing these franchises fear more than the Sauron eye of the HQ cast down upon them.

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  1. Rick Dobbs says:

    Super Shuttle sucks so hard that this is almost a non-news item. How about regularly having to make 5 stops before getting to the airport? Or the asses not turning on the a/c when needed. If they were bigger they would have been a great nomination for Worst Company in America.

  2. A_B says:

    I HATE the SuperShuttle. It was a slow build-up of miserable experiences where I constantly wondered why I was putting myself through all this to save a few bucks, culminating in a ride on Halloween, which I’ll never forget.

    We had arrived from a flight from Tokyo to Kennedy so we were exhausted. Our pre-arranged pick-up was a little late, 20 minutes or so, but that’s typical with them. I expected as much.

    There were one or two people in the van already.

    For the next hour, we did laps around the various terminals picking more people up. Several times, I could hear the driver talking to the dispatcher. Based on the drivers comments, the dispatcher was saying he could go drop us off, but he said stuff like, “no, it’s OK, I’ll get them.” We would then drive to a new terminal, wait around for the people to get off the plane and get in the van.

    After an hour, our van was packed with about 11 people (it was maxed out).

    Based on the route he took into the city, our apartment was the closest stop. But instead of dropping us off first, he started on the Upper West side since two stops were near each other there.

    For the next 2.5 hours, we watched as the driver went the wrong way repeatedly, ignored clear instructions, and simply made a mess of the entire process. While he was confident, smooth and generally professional when speaking to us, he was absolutely clueless about driving in the city.

    Exchanges like:
    Passenger: My stop right over there, under the awning.
    Driver: Where?
    Passenger: Right on the next block. Right there [pointing to an obvious awning]
    Driver: Oh, I see.

    He would then drive by the stop.

    Passenger: That was my stop!
    Driver: Sorry. Let me go around.

    We’d then be stuck in traffic as the guy drove around the block. With some stops hotels in Times Square area, it took forever.

    This was the type of driving incompetance we were dealing with. Those of us in the back were discussing how awful this guy was.

    As I said, it was 2.5 hours of this until there was just my wife and I and one other guy in the van.

    The guy’s stop was in the dead center of the Halloween parade. My wife and I were to be dropped off in a quiet part of the city that was marginally closer to where we were at the time.

    So, knowing this, the driver decides to go into the Halloween parade! We spent the next 45 minutes stuck, dead in traffic, as the driver tried to get close to the guy’s stop.

    All the driver could muster to us was a, “oh, uh, sorry. I didn’t think the Halloween parade traffic would be so bad.” Despite the fact that 1010 WINS, which we were listening to was REPEATEDLY saying how bad the traffic was around the parade.

    Eventually we got home. It tooks us over 4 hours and only the last 45 minutes were related to Halloween traffic, which the driver chose to subject us to. The rest was exclusively incompetence. (The circling of the terminals was either incompetence or greed. I don’t know what incentives the drivers have to pick more people up.)

    In the end, I think my wife and I saved about 10 bucks over taking a cab. What a mistake. Especially considering a cab ride from Kennedy usually takes an average of 45 minutes during non-rush hour.

  3. TedSez says:

    My guess is that the company is trying to save money and maximize profits by sending out fewer shuttles and more poorly trained drivers. I used to take Super Shuttle to the airport all the time, and would have a decent experience. Then, a few years ago, it began to seem as if every trip involved going long distances in various directions to pick up or drop off other people — resulting in trips that took twice as long — and, when leaving the airport, circling the gates endlessly to find other passengers. The last straw was when a driver passed within four blocks of my home to drop off someone who lived many miles away, adding a full 45 extra minutes to what should have been a 25-minute trip. At that point I realized that the added time and stress weren’t worth the few bucks I would save over a taxi.

  4. Melsky says:

    The last time I took them, the driver got lost and was swearing a lot. Then when we got downtown and were in traffic, he was pointing out “hot women” to the male passengers, and describing their attributes in great detail. The mother of the ten year old boy passenger asked him to stop and drama ensued. He also mentioned his tip jar several times. Not a great way to start a trip.

  5. Carlos Rodriguez says:

    I’ve had good experiences with the Super Shuttle leaving from Boulder, Colorado hotels.

  6. spinachdip says:

    I haven’t taken Super Shuttle in 5 years, back when I visited San Francisco regularly – drivers were all competent and pretty efficient with pick-ups and drop-offs. I guess things changed since then?

    I haven’t used SS in NYC because the savings aren’t big enough to justify the inconvenience, bad drivers or otherwise. A cab to Manhattan to LGA isn’t that expensive, and probably is cheaper with multiple passengers, while Newark and JFK both have relatively inexpensive rail access.

  7. Treved says:

    Ugh, these guys are awful. I won’t add my tales of woe, other than to say on more than one occasion (don’t I ever learn?) I actually got out of the van in the middle of the trip and hailed a cab. It just wasn’t worth it. I can’t believe these commenters actually stayed in there for 4 hours!

  8. OkiMike says:

    I used to use Super Shuttle a lot going from the USC campus to the LAX airport. The pickup times were always good, but it was probably because I was their first stop. I love to be really early to the airports, so I always felt rushed when they would START to pick up other passengers just at the time I was hoping to be finished checking in!

    I do have 3 complaints: they never carried change and the cost of the ride was always more than I was quoted on the phone. Inevitably it was two or three dollars more and I would be forced to give them a $10 bill, the next smallest bill that I carried on me! They, of course, kept the “change” as a tip.

    The few times I was picked up at the airport to be taken home, it would inevitably become a 2-hour trip because we’d have to circle the airport 10 times before leaving to insure that the driver had a full van. Ugh.

    Okay, I lied! I hate the Super Shuttle.

  9. Ben Popken says:

    Jessica writes:

    “Living in Bethesda, I needed to go to BWI on Thankgiving day, so I took the Supershuttle.

    The van arrived on time with no incident, but as we left my house, the driver did a hugely illegal and dangerous u-turn across three or four lanes of busy traffic. We picked up only two other passengers, getting lost twice. We then got on the Beltway which was crowded with holiday traffic – translation, idiots who never drive were on the road – it was at this point that the driver turned in his seat, swerving across a lane of traffic through his inattention, and told us, “oh yeah, by law I have to inform you that I have a sleeping disorder. Sometimes I just fall asleep, so if you see me nodding, just wake me up.” We spent the rest of the ride anxiously watching to see if he was going to fall asleep. Once, when he slightly turned his head, one of the other passengers asked worriedly, “are you awake?” I could hear the note of hysteria in her voice.

    We made it there alive despite our narcoleptic shuttle driver. I thought that people with this sort of disability were prohibited from driving, not to mention doing commercial driving.”

  10. Ben Popken says:

    Sherry writes:

    “Booked in advance – told to be ready between 6 – 6:15, was finally picked up at 7. Another passenger in Van was booked @ 5:15, picked up @ 6:30 – she was within walking distance of our location – driver took 30 min to find us!!! Manhattan is NOT dificult – simple grid system. They are supposed to be professionals. She got to airport with only 90 min to flight. This was on Fri after London Terror threat – All over media to be @ airport 3 hours before flight. Then, the driver looked for big tip for getting us to airport quickly – Being former NY’er I knew he took the wrong exit for airport!!”

  11. vedavard says:

    I saw from SuperShuttle Website that the following are our Service Standards, which I should accept that by and large Super Shuttle is indeed maintaining

    – We recognize that our first responsibility is to our guests, who are the sole support of each and every one of us.

    – We are friendly and courteous no matter what.
    – We help our passengers in every way possible.


    However, wanted to share my recent personal exprience that happened on Sep 28, while traveling from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport to my home North West Phoenix. This is indeed very upsetting, the way passengers are treated.

    We traveled in the Van# AZ35B8 on Sep 28, 2006 night (around 12:05am) from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport to our home in N.W suburb of Phoenix. I had my son and wife returning from India that day after their 3-month stay in INDIA. My son (7 years) was excited in seeing me after long time, that he started conversing with me, giggling – having the excitement and fun rejoining his father.

    The driver suddenly spoke with a rather rude tone of saying “I cannot drive like this for long distance for the rest of the trip with this noise. I know he is a Kid”. He called it noise and as if he was doing a favor to us giving a ride. My son was just conversing. Of course,we conversing in ‘Tamil’ – our mother toungue. I asked the driver, “So, are we not supposed to talk?”. He said something like “This is getting on my nerves”. I told “I guess you are being very rude. He is a kid”. He said “What’s rude is yelling behind my back”.

    Come on! My son ws just talking about his trip, laughing, talking about his school teacher, grand parents, cousins and so on. I am not sure why the driver was so prejudiced about this. We feel it was indeed “Prejudiced”.

    For the rest of the trip, we remained quiet like school kids. It was just like traveling as prisoners. We felt like asking him to turnaround to the airport terminal where we boarded the van and taking another shuttle cab or so. My family was so tired that we wanted to reach home ASAP.

    This Prejudice started when he boarded the Van outside the Airport Terminal. Let me give you 2 instrances, which made us feel this was true.

    1) My wife and son had 4 suitcases (of couse airline allows 2 checkin pieces per passenger. It is customary for International Passengers especially Asians to carry 2 pieces per passenger). The Van Driver commented that “I guess there should be only 2 weeks of vacation allowed and only 1 luggage allowed”. Come on! It is none of his business what-so-ever to coment about how much we should carry and how long we should vacation etc.

    2) After we boarded the Van, the tone of “WHERE ARE YOU GOING?”. “”WHAT ADDRESS?”, “WHAT’s YOUR NAME?” etc the driver asked seemed rather very Cold, Unpolite, as if we were prisoners of war.

    I told my wife to note down the Van# and that I would call Super Shuttle once I reach home. After that the driver switched to a better mood, when we were close to our home.

    However, we would like to mention that this is certianly NOT the way one should behave with Customers. This was certianly NOT Courteous. After all we are not from streets or something. I am a middle-Manager in the biggest Health Insurance Company in the US and my wife is a Dentist. We strongly feel that we certiainly do not deserve to be treated this way, just because we are from a different country or something.

    I have reported this to Super Shuttle. This should be taken seriously to educate the staff to be coutreous to customers and NOT repeat this kind of behavior to other Customers.

    Note: The driver who picked me up from home to airport at 10pm the same night,was highly courteous, friendly. Infact, we never had this kind of exprience ever in Super Shuttle. Now that this happened while returning home from airport, I guess, we would think twice callling Shutle and also have any of our guests use alternate modes of transport.

  12. jafijaffar says:

    I booked a pick-up from San Jose airport weeks in advance only to receive the info upon arrival that “we’re not going to be able to pick you up” and I would have to take alternative means of transport home. This alone was frustrating but what is worse it the customer service I received therafter. Adrienne Andrews from “Quality Assurance” did not respond to several weeks worth of calls, and eventually to get a refund I had to go through the credit card company. I will never rely on them again, not to mention that the service is less than exceptional when they do show

  13. ZalmaiNerps says:

    Do not use Super Shuttle – They do not care about their customers!

    To Super Shuttle

    Oct 18th I arranged a van for 6:15 am to pick me up @ The Hilton Market Garden in Dallas. On Oct 19th @ 5:50 am I received a call to my room that the driver was here – That I “must come down now”. I was not ready. “he stated that he “has a nasty habit of arriving early”. He said that he “would call another van”, to which I replied “that will be here @ 6:15″, to which he replied, “maybe, maybe not. I can’t be sure. If it doesn’t show up, you’ll have to call dispatch and get another van”. I replied that I had ordered a van for 6:15, and that I had already set up a van, why was I going through this? he literally hung up on me. I called dispatch and the woman listened to my story. She told me another van would be there @ 6:30, to which I replied; “that would put me in too late, I had arranged my shuttle the day before for 6:15, so that I could arrive at the last possible minute”. She said there was nothing I could do, so I demanded she put me in touch with a supervisor. I told him what was going on – at this point I was very upset about having to go through the whole situation, not to mention having to hold for over 7 minutes for a supervisor – The supervisor got on and I started to tell the man what was going on, and it was apparent immediately, that he did not care. I told him the driver had called me while I was in the shower to which he replied, that “he did not want to think about me in the shower”, and that “all he does all day is listen to people like me, complain about their piddly little problems”. I was flabbergasted, and explained to him that people can go on the internet and write about these kind of things, and that I could not believe he would handle Super Shuttle business like this. He said “what are you going to do, write about me”? He then ended the conversation by saying that my “$17.50 ride would be on it’s way”.

    I guess this means that for $17.50, I should not expect good service, or polite, helpful people., and that if I call for a ride @ 6:15 am, it could arrive @ 5:50 or earlier, and that if I am not ready, I must go through the hassle of calling dispatch and arranging another van. My second Van arrived @ 6:27 – 12 minutes late. Another guest at the hotel was also there waiting and stated that he was called 25 minutes early, and that he had told them he was not ready. he was also upset, and stated that he was gong to call and complain. I will never use Super Shuttle again, and will go out of my way to use anyone but your company. I have learned the lesson that if I want to be picked up on time, I must pay more to get the service I want.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Used them a few times without major issue, until the last time when I booked a family vacation..with my fiancee’s family. After the assigned pickup window passed, I called for a status update. Hes 10 minutes away. After 20 minutes, I called again for the status update and was told the driver was 7 miles away, but on his way. When I asked how she knew this, she said the van has GPS. I asked what street he was on, and she said she didnt know. I asked how she could see that he was 7 miles away, but not what street he was on. No reply.

    The van showed up, more than 40 minutes after the pickup window, when we were just about to load up our own cars and drive ourselves. No appology. No explaination, despite the fact that we expressed our unhappiness.

    Return trip, we arrive back at the airport, and since its after their hours, theres no one at the supershuttle counter. I call the 800 number on my ticket. First they cant find my confirmation. I ask what I should do after the guy says he cant find it and am told, “find alternative transportation.” I exploded. A manager magically found my confirmation, but told me that there were no vans in the area and they wouldnt be able to pick me up. So there were are, at the airport in the middle of the night with no way home.

    Then he told me that my reservation was actually for 5 days previous. Despite me having the reservation printout in my hand, he said “one of us is lying.”

    Their customer service is rude. OF all the instances in which youre placing trust in someone else, airport pickup and dropoff is way up there on the list, and they basically dont care.

    In DC, Ive found that taxi fares are the same, if not lower than supershuttle.

  15. PeterT says:

    X-Driver for Super Shuttle Miami – I was treated badly – low commissions pay, vans in bad condition (some have weak/non working AC, some will only work while in motion).

    Some drivers will walk away for the day if there were no vans were available, otherwise someone could wait up to two or three hours (not paid for waiting) and they might forced the driver to do the eight and a half hours. Sometimes they make a driver who is almost eight hours make a three stops run ending in Palm Beach (about a three hour min round trip)

    Management was super cheap on van repairs, employee pays. I really feel that if Super Shuttle treats their own drivers like crap, they might do the same thing for their passengers

    I cursed them every day and I give them a one finger salute every time I see one of them vans. I may have developed some health problems because of them.

    2009 few into NY first time in over 16 years. Never use the blue vans.
    1) Flight was diverted from LGA to Kennedy.
    2) Knowledge of the subway system.
    3) Transit bus route that runs from LGA – Flushing – my final designation. Q48 – about 25 minutes ride.
    .