Dear Greyhound: Thanks For Ditching Me In Philadelphia. May I Please Have My Bags Back Now?

Greyhound ditched reader Austin at a Philadelphia rest stop on the way from Chicago to New York. During the previous stops, the driver clearly announced that the bus was about to depart. This apparently wasn’t necessary in Philadelphia, even though Greyhound ordered off all the passengers so the bus could be cleaned and refueled. After thirty minutes, Austin quickly dashed into the bathroom. When he returned, the bus had disappeared with his bag. Now, Greyhound’s executive office is refusing to talk to Austin, or provide any compensation for his missing bag.

Austin writes:

Below are several e-mails I’ve sent to Greyhound in an attempt to be reimbursed for my carry-on luggage that was missing after Greyhound ditched me in Pennsylvania. We were on our way to NYC from Chicago (ew, I know) and the woman said we were pulling into Philadelphia so they could clean and refuel the bus and it wouldn’t take long. After waiting for a half hour, I decided to go to the restroom. I came out several minutes later and the bus was gone! There were speakers in the bathroom, so I know there was no announcement or anything. They just left me.

The worst part is that when the bus driver told us to get off of the bus, she said we’d be coming back onto the same bus, so we could leave our belongings. Unfortunately, that was the last time I ever saw my bag again.

They put me on the next bus, and when I arrived at Port Authority, I went directly to the manager and they took me around to all of the holding areas for luggage, lost luggage, etc. They then told me that it was gone and that was that. After looking on the website, I read that Greyhound will not reimburse customers for lost carry-on luggage, but I decided this was a special case.

As I had already dealt with Greyhound managers and what not for hours at the Port Authority, I decided to call Greyhound CEO, Dave Leach’s office to resolve the issue. His assistant, Liz, gave me her e-mail address so I could send her my letter, and she quickly forwarded me onto executive customer service. A woman named “Ms. Walker” called and left me a voice mail, and we played phone tag for a couple of weeks. While I work during the day and may not be able to take calls, it perturbs me that she couldn’t do the same, being as that IS her job. Once I came to the conclusion that Ms. Walker and I probably wouldn’t get in touch, I sent Liz another e-mail, to which she decided to begin ignoring me altogether.

I know that the BBB complaint will be pretty useless, but I’m banking on the idea that small claims court will see it my way (read: Greyhound won’t show up to court and I’ll win by default). Maybe?

We’re not surprised that Greyhound’s executive customer support staff can’t return calls or emails. Nothing escapes Greyhound’s ruin.

Small claims court is worth a shot. Since you’ll need to deliver papers, try serving a driver, preferably one about to leave on a cross-country route.

(Photo: Tom in NYC)

Comments

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  1. crazyasianman says:

    ah… how lovely that yet again a company is liable for a mistake but won’t take responsibility for it. not even taking it seriously.

  2. Cullen D says:

    Ugh. Dealing with greyhound is a horrid experience that I wish upon no one. Sure it is cheap.. But god the services is horrid. I should have submitted them for worst company in america. I mean, they llose bags, screw up tickets, over charge, put you on the wrong bus, make you miss your buss, the list goes on. No one who works there is the slightest bit helpful.

    But hey, as their new signs say, on a fea of their busses, they have new seats! Yes! I’m glad I have an aluminum foot rest at the cost of, well, customer service all together.

  3. bradanomics says:

    File a police report for a stolen bag. Or, take them to small claims cort for the stolen bag. Make them pay.

  4. inno says:

    Fung Wah is much better than Greyhound. Yeah they drive a little crazy – but you get there faster, they count people before they leave stops, and all for half the price.

  5. dmuth says:

    I work in Center City Philadelphia. If this was at the station on Filbert St., I would be happy to serve a driver (or their office) with papers on Austin’s behalf. :-)

  6. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @inno: “Fung Wah is much better than Greyhound.”

    @[en.wikipedia.org] “The Fung Wah bus has been involved in several safety-related incidents. In 2005, the company was given a federal safety rating of 73 out of 100, 100 being the worst, and 75 or above considered at risk of being unsafe and subject to investigation.[2] Ian Grossman of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported that Fung Wah drivers rated in the worst 2 percent of drivers nationwide based on regulatory violations, and nine out of 71 Fung Wah drivers were suspended after inspection between 2004 and 2006.[3]“

    Yeah, tons better than Greyhound.

  7. hejustlaughs says:

    @aaron8301: Hey, for half the price and no deaths. Count me in!

  8. curthibbs says:

    If you take them to small claims court you have to server the “registered agent” of the company. To find that out you have to determine what state the company is incorporated in, and then contact that state’s agency that is in charge of registering corporations.

  9. mtaylor924 says:

    “I read that Greyhound will not reimburse customers for lost carry-on luggage, but I decided this was a special case.”

    Not to blame the OP here, because I agree that Greyhound is at fault – but isn’t it the company’s role to decide what’s a “special case”? If not, why bother publishing any policies at all?

  10. FezMan88 says:

    the Philly travel curse just happens to carry over to buses as well. Welcome to the city!

  11. Pro-Pain says:

    Being stuck in Philly is enough to get me to sue Grayhound. *shudders* I bet he got a parking ticket for just standing there…

  12. christoj879 says:

    @dmuth: Second. I think that’s the only Philthadelphia Greyhound station, but when they’re coming back to the city for a drop off they stop at 30th St Station. Convenient I guess, two less train stops than if they stopped at Filbert.

    I hope he at least got to go to Reading Terminal Market :)

  13. timmus says:

    Isn’t this one of those situations where Consumerist making a phone call to Greyhound would light a fire under their asses?

  14. @inno: And Fung Wah helps in this case how?

    Sorry, just tired of people chiming in on every subject with “Local Company/restaurant XYZ is SOOO much better even though they arent local to 95% of the readers”

  15. nonzenze says:

    Southwest flies from Midway to Islip for $75 each way including taxes! Even if Greyhound were free I’d pay the $75 to fly.

  16. nonzenze says:

    . . . “count people before they leave stops” holy crap common sense!

  17. RedSonSuperDave says:

    Ahh, good memories. And by “good” I mean shitty. About ten years ago, I was trying to travel from Fort Benning to Florida via Greyhound after visiting an Army buddy. For some reason, they sent me to Dothan by way of Atlanta, but neglected to account for the shift from Central to Eastern time. Supposedly I was to get on a bus in the Atlanta terminal at 7:15, but by the time I got there it was already 7:30. Because I was young and stupid, I believed the manager when he said that there was nothing he could do for me.

    I ended up hitchhiking home from Atlanta. I’ve never used Greyhound since.

  18. bmwloco says:

    I travel Grayhound when A) I just need to get there B) I don’t care how I get there C) when it’s the cheapest.

    One tip: Carry only what you need. UPS or Fedex bigger stuff ahead of you if necessary.

    Second tip: do overnight trips. They’re usually straight through and cover more ground quickly.

    Third: stay close to the bus, never leave anything on the bus, and take something to read.

    When I buy cars or motorcycles over eBay, this is how I travel. So far, so good.

  19. mercnet says:

    I road grayhound once, and that experience made it my last.

  20. othium says:

    I used to ride this line every two weeks to visit family but stopped because there was no guarantee that I could actually use the ticket I bought each time. I followed the rules and arrived at the bus pick up location early (up to an hour or so before anyone else arrived) but on three or four occasions, have been told I could not board because they had no seats available. Once I was told I could not board because a disabled person was put at the front of the line (he had arrived five minutes before the bus left) and took the last seat.

    All that and there is also the creepy passengers who have been riding without showers for days. Ick.

  21. GearheadGeek says:

    Not that this is often a better solution, but in the case of Chicago-NYC you can take Amtrak for about the same price ($95 non-refundable on Greyhound, $101 on Amtrak, and Amtrak is 3 hours less slow.) You can walk around on the train and … well, it’s not Greyhound.

  22. redwall_hp says:

    He could avoid small claims court if his laptop was in the bag. Value of laptop + $15,000 worth of intellectual property on the hard drive. :D

  23. Rachael says:

    It’s not enough that you pay for your penny-pinching when riding Greyhound by losing a measure of dignity- you’re also guaranteed at least some issue with them.

    The last time I used Greyhound, they lost my bag twice. I was at my destination for two days without a change of clothes and then when I got home I didn’t get my bag for another two days. I wasn’t even going cross country- it was a shorter trip!!!

  24. LoSpaz says:

    I hate Greyhound, but at least they don’t stop in Philadelphia on the way from NYC to DC without telling passengers because they have to “pick up some people” to add to an already full bus, like Fung Wah did to me. A four-hour trip turned into seven and there were people standing in the aisle. Never again.

  25. Osi says:

    Another clear cut case. File a police report for theft, contact attorney general and fbi (As they serve cross state borders). And take them to court.

  26. PinUp says:

    Ok, it’s completely true that this would suck; however, unless everyone had gotten off the bus in the last few minutes, I may have asked the driver to confirm whether there was still time before the bus would depart (or someone else official, as I assume from the reference to speakers in the bathroom that this took place in a station rather than a random rest stop). That is, unless there was a scheduled departure time and the bus left early, but it didn’t seem from the story that passengers had been given a definite time frame.

  27. Bruce Bayliss says:

    Um.
    Why would you want to leave your personal belongings unattended ANYWHERE, let alone on a Greyhound bus….?

  28. bubba127 says:

    As a Greyhound employee, I’ve seen this kind of thing happen a few times. Unfortunately, odds are pretty good someone on the bus walked off with your luggage, and as all stations are required to post the baggage regulations, which clearly state that the company is not responsible for unchecked baggage (i.e. carry on baggage) I’m not sure how it would hold up in court.

  29. @Jinx: The AG and FBI will laugh at you. As they should.

  30. Preyfar says:

    @Bruce Bayliss:
    Especially on a Greyhound bus in Philadelphia. I lived a few streets away from their station for several years, and while not entirely an un-safe area, it’s not a place I’d want to be parted from my belongings at all.

  31. sponica says:

    Never had the pleasure of an actual Greyhound bus as I take Peter Pan, and now the Bolt Bus. But whenever we’ve stopped on an unscheduled stopover at the Travel America stop on I-84, the drivers make it quite clear that we ONLY have 15 minutes and we will be left behind if we’re not back on the bus. While it’s true that the 15 minutes sometimes turns into 30 because the bus is almost always sold out and the cashiers can never handle the crowd of people looking to buy snacks, I never ever ever ever ever linger around longer than I have to. And I keep the bus in sight at all times. Just before we pull out, the drivers ask if anyone knows if someone’s missing.

    Odds are his carry-on wasn’t lost by Greyhound, but “claimed” by someone else. Maybe some disreptuable person saw the bag where there had been a person previously, and went…”hmmm, finders keepers”

  32. dantsea says:

    You’ve been on a Greyhound bus since Chicago. You’ve seen, heard (and more likely than not, smelled) your fellow passengers for the past several hours. Your bus pull into a sketchy station in the middle of a sketchy Philadelphia neighborhood, and you not only decide to leave your valuables on the bus, you wander away from the thing?

    Austin, I know this situation must suck for you but I really want to know what the hell you were thinking? Any powers of observation here? Any at all?

    Oh well.

    If you’re this set on getting something for your trouble, you probably have small claims as your final option. Have fun.

  33. Lambasted says:

    Before I jump on the side of OP I would have to know a couple of things:

    1. How long were the other rest stops? If all the other rest stops were 30 minutes, sounds like OP likely overshot the time, especially since he said he waited 30 minutes and then went to the bathroom. Seems to me that he knew time was up but since he didn’t hear an announcement the thought he had time for a bathroom run.

    2. Did the driver tell passengers how long the rest stop would be? If yes, then it is the passengers responsibility to keep track of the time and get back to the bus before departure. They are adults after all not school children.

    If no specific time was given, then it is understandable that passengers must rely on the announcements to let them know when time is up.

    3. Did others miss the bus too, indicating that the bus driver probably did leave early? I would be more convinced if others were left stranded too. Or was it only the OP who missed the bus? If everyone else made it back to the bus on time, the fault probably lies with the OP.

    Bottom line for me is: Something smells rotten in Denmark here. I am pretty skeptical of the OP account of the incident because it appears that no one else missed the bus. It wasn’t a coincidence that everyone else on the bus knew when to be back. However, if it can be proven that the Greyhound driver was at fault by not following a set procedure then OP is due compensation.

  34. tastydb says:

    Some years back I rode a Greyhound bus from my college town to the nearby airport, with one stop at a larger terminal on the way. The driver announced we’d be stopping for 10 minutes, and said that anyone who wanted to get off and use the bathroom could do so as long they were back in time. I was the only passenger to get off, speaking to the driver as I left and saying “I’m going to the restroom. I’ll be back in few minutes.” He replied, “That’s fine. Take your time.” Just a couple minutes later, I returned to the bus… except it was no longer there. Considering my luggage was on that bus and that I’d also miss my flight, I was frantic.

    Fortunately I found the dispatcher on duty right away, and he confirmed the bus had left earlier than it was supposed to. He got on the radio right away and ordered the driver to return to the terminal. The driver argued with him for a minute until the dispatcher said firmly, “YOU DON’T WANT ME TO HAVE YOU WRITTEN UP AGAIN.” A few minutes later, the bus was back.

    No apology from the driver, and all the passengers were glaring at me like it was my fault for missing the bus, but at least I (and my luggage) made my flight.

    Greyhound Dispatcher Joe, you are my hero.

  35. Preyfar says:

    @dantsea:
    The bus would have stopped at the main station of Philadelphia which is on the 1000 block of Filbert St. I lived in Philly for four years, know the place back and front. The area is not that bad. It’s downtown Philly, safe… not the worst place to be. I used to go walking around the area when I went to AIPh.

    I still wouldn’t have left my stuff unattended.

  36. dantsea says:

    @Preyfar: Thanks for the correction. I don’t know why I had this station fixed somewhere in southwest philly. Center city and especially that area is much safer, but yeah, I still would have taken my bags with me.

  37. thesabre says:

    @nonzenze: “. . . “count people before they leave stops” holy crap common sense!”

    What is this, a middle-school field trip? If they started counting people and waiting, everyone would be complaining that they were treating their customers like kids. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? If you’re stopping for fuel and cleaning, it’s the rider’s responsibility to be ready when the bus departs. While I feel Greyhound should reimburse the OP or at least help him get his bag back, it’s not Greyhound’s responsibility to be your mommy and daddy. If you waited a half hour before you decide to use the restroom when a bus is getting a vacuum and fuel, how long do you think you’ll have? Or, if you wait for a half hour and have to use the restroom, at least ask the driver when the estimated departure time is and if there is enough time to use the restroom.

  38. QuimbyDeucalion says:

    Along w/ others, not trying to be a jerk here… but was anyone else left at
    the station? If not, then you messed up getting off the bus… and frankly
    you’re crazy to have left any carry on items on the bus unless you had
    someone you trust watching them. Sorry about the situation, I know I
    certainly wouldn’t want to be in it

  39. kc2idf says:

    You want customer service from Greyhound? Good luck even getting them to admit you are a human being!

    Because they are the cheapest option for travel, they get attempts made to take advantage of them quite frequently. For many, they are also the only option for travel.

    I won’t ever use them. Not after the last time.

  40. Nick1693 says:

    @inno:
    Define “a little”

  41. dragonfire81 says:

    In my experience greyhound is pretty hardcore with the “get back on the bus or we leave without you” stuff. They have schedules to (try) to maintain and if that means leaving someone behind, so be it.

    My general rule when traveling Greyhound is: If you do have to get off the bus, MAKE IT QUICK! Buy a snack, use the bathroom, have your smoke, etc. but GET BACK ON THE BUS right after.

    I usually bring snacks with me so I don’t need to get off for food. The only thing I usually get off for is a bathroom break (I just don’t trust those bus bathrooms).

    I have traveled Greyhound many times and although their customer service is less than stellar and some of their drivers do not seem too qualified for the job, I’ve never had a terrible experience, just the occasional snag.

  42. friedduck says:

    Have Greyhound served at a retail location. They won’t know what to do with the summons (is that the right word?) and likely won’t appear in court.

    Consumerist.com had a story of just such a thing when someone served Dell at one of their mall kiosks!

  43. user3463 says:

    Here in Colorado, when you want to sue a business, they have what is called a “registered agent for service”, which is one person that represents the company and to whom all legal notices (including serving them for any kind of lawsuit) must be delivered and signed for. Otherwise, the suit will not be valid when the court date comes because the defendant will not have been properly served. You can find the company’s registered agent for service on the Secretary of State’s website very easily. What this means is that you can’t win a default judgement against a business when they don’t show up if they were not properly served, and this includes serving some random employee with papers at another location.

  44. caj11 says:

    Would anyone here believe that there was once a Greyhound AIRLINES?

    It only lasted a year, and it only flew in Canada, but they had the same logo as the buses on their planes.

    Somehow they thought they could link up the smaller towns in Canada with buses to the major cities where people would then get on their planes and fly on to other major cities, then take the bus to get to their destination. Uh huh. I wonder if the two corporate entities had contests over who lost the higher percentage of luggage each month.

    Read the Wikipedia article for more info:

    [en.wikipedia.org]

  45. DeltaPurser says:

    So… everybody else got on the bus after it had been cleaned but you? And this is Greyhound’s fault? Everybody else heard their announcements? Everybody else saw them board the bus? Except you… Hmmmmmmmm. Take some responsibility, dude. HOW would they know you were supposed to be on the bus? Do they have a list of passengers?

  46. tastydb says:

    @QuimbyDeucalion: “… and frankly you’re crazy to have left any carry on items on the bus unless you had someone you trust watching them.”

    Any items that won’t fit under the seat or on the rack have to be stowed under the bus. Greyhound issues tags to go on each piece of stowed luggage, and station attendants are supposed to match each tagged bag to the person it belongs to. (But whether they follow procedure or not largely depends on the local station management.) If the bus is just on a stopover, though, and the storage bins haven’t been opened, stowed luggage should be reasonably secure as long as passengers make it back to the bus. Anyone who doesn’t, I would strongly recommend having the dispatcher or station manager call ahead to the next station and ensure an attendant grabs the bags and takes them to lost+found before someone else walks off with them.

  47. milk says:

    Someone stealing a carry-on isn’t Greyhound’s fault at all. Deal with it.

  48. EasttoMidwest says:

    Greyhound left me stranded overnight in Springfield Mass when I was underaged. And if not for the kindness of a random driver, I would have been left outside a locked depot in the middle of nowhere. This was before cell phones. I was going from NYC to Burlington VT but the bus was too full so they put me on another bus that was supposed to meet with a connecting bus at some small depot BUT not only had the connecting bus left, the depot was closed. (There were two other adult men in the same situation.) Anyway, a driver took us to Springfield because they were open 24 hours and had phones and in general better options to Burlington. But the Greyhound station was closed. You can imagine who hangs out at the Springfield depot overnight… At some point I called my mother and one of the guys in the same situation called his girlfriend to pick us up and drive us to Burlington. She didn’t show so he was in a panic. Anyway, then the State Troopers came to get me at the request of my mom who hadn’t heard from me in a couple of hours and took me to a Holiday Inn. (Thanks!)

    My father called and wrote to Greyhound every weel like clockwork, attaching various reciepts, etc. Nothing.

  49. mstb says:

    wow, I have been reading the horror stories, I truly wish I found this before I sent my 17 year old on a trip from hell. My son who has never been out of my sight, was excited to go see my relative in Florida. Seeing as though I am a worry wort, I said ride the bus not the plane. Big mistake. See my son got shot in the leg while on an hour layover in Char. NC. He is fine, the 22 bullet went clean through, God s grace.
    Heres the thing my son went to the counter to ask for a first aid kit twice, he was denied,
    He told me he didnt realize he got hit, “maybe he was in shot?”
    I believe when he was at that counter that was his opportunity to tell someone,
    he never did..my son is 300 lbs, over 6ft.
    I dont know if he was just in shock, or what, if the bus was getting ready to leave,?
    Now I am glad he didnt, and just waited …in reading one of these comments, an individual was left .. that could have been my son,
    To say the least I have made police reports, and called greyhound so many times, NO RETURN CALLS!!!
    I just want to know where was secutity, cameras, who knows who did it. I have been reading there newspapers and crime is insane there.
    My heart is broken, and I just want answers….Greyhound does not care.

  50. mstb says:

    Does greyhound have cameras?

  51. DynamicBits says:

    @mercnet: You took the words out of my mouth.

    A couple years ago I had to travel from the east cost of Florida to the west coast. That is a three hour trip according to Google maps. Greyhound also claimed it was around three hours.

    Fast forward a little more than 13 hours and I get dropped off with a handful of people at a closed Greyhound station. (A lot of places are closed at 1AM for some reason..) I’m sure a large part of the reason I am alive today is because a single cab happened to be there. I shared it with two other people. When we went to drop the first girl off just a couple blocks away she told the cab driver not to leave the main road or she’d probably get robbed in this neighborhood. (And by leaving the main road, I don’t mean turning onto a dirt road or anything.)

    After we dropped off the second person the cad driver told me how she’d been robbed at gunpoint in that neighborhood twice in the past couple of weeks. Where I was going was 20-30 minutes away and I arrived safely.

    During one of my unscheduled, forced, multi-hour layovers, I witnessed the worst customer disservice ever. I’m talking flat out lying to people’s faces. The security guard was making racist comments to peoples’ faces who didn’t speak English. When I complained, guess how helpful everyone was.

    Thanks Greyhound!

    @DeltaPurser: Yes, they do have a list of passengers.