Greyhound Accidentally Charges $1,000 For A $70 Bus Ticket

Greyhound tickets from Raleigh to Asheville cost $67.50, unless you’re Meg Stivison. Then they cost over $1,000. Greyhound repeatedly charged Stivison’s debit card while insisting that she didn’t know the address on her bank statement. Meg ended up driving down to the bus terminal to buy a ticket, but that was just the start of her nightmarish journey…

Meg tried calling Greyhound to sort out the overcharge. Greyhound has a separate phone tree option for overcharges, but it leads only to static indifference. Greyhound’s customer service voicemail is equally useless and didn’t seem to be connected to anything either.

Greyhound eventually felt bad for the overcharge and the cold shoulder so they sent Meg a letter.

…yesterday, I got a form letter from Greyhound, apologizing because of my “concerns regarding not being able to reach customer service”. What? I wasn’t calling up customer service to say hello! I was calling about the THOUSAND DOLLARS I’d been overcharged. I didn’t need a apology because no one picked up the phone, especially that apology completely ignored the reason I was calling, those ten times they charged my card.

So now I’m completely furious again. I don’t want a voucher for a discount my next ticket, I’m pretty sure this has been my last Greyhound trip. Isn’t an old saying about this kind of situation: Overcharge me a thousand dollars once, shame on you. But twice, shame on me. Something like that. But I would like a “Sorry we were incredibly rude about not being able to sell you a ticket, while actually charging you ten times for that ticket. Sorry that when you called about that, our customer service number goes straight to disconnected voicemail.” form letter.

Think they’ve got one of those made up?

Don’t count on Greyhound to do reverse the charges. Call you bank instead and ask them to return your cash. If they’ve ever ridden Greyhound before, they should be more than sympathetic.

Greyhound Form Letter [Simpson's Paradox]
(Photo: heliosphan)

Comments

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  1. Russell Miller says:

    I hate to say it, but this is why I use a credit card when at all possible. Chargebacks are much easier.

    • From the cubicle of PGibbons says:

      @Russell Miller: I would Never use a debit card. NEVER. No way I want a pipe connected straight into my checking account – I want control over the spigot.

      However, many people are not fortunate enough to have access to credit cards – whether through their own actions or their economic fate. For them, we need identical chargeback protection for debit cards as we do credit cards. In fact, if it has a “VISA” or “Mastercard” logo – then it should just be treated by the same rules anyway. Only difference is whether it’s funded by a loan or funded by a bank account.

      • orlo says:

        @molek: Is the chargeback protection less for debit cards? Most offer zero liability if your number is stolen, which is exactly what Greyhound is doing–stealing money.

  2. formergr says:

    This is written really confusingly– I’m not at all clear on what happened what order. Was more of the original letter supposed to be included in the post?

  3. Ninja007 says:

    what exactly is the point of using a debit card?

    • Skaperen says:

      @Ninja007: 1. There is no temptation to let charges slide into the next month and end up being hooked on credit for life.

      2. Many people simply don’t qualify for credit cards or for a practical credit limit, even if they have a job that makes a lot of money.

      What we need is a payment processing system that provides for proper consumer protection as well as merchant protection, and works the same whether paid by a means of credit lending or a deposit account.

      • From the cubicle of PGibbons says:

        @Skaperen: Something allegedly offered by debit cards, but as this case illustrates it is not practiced.

      • GTI2.0 says:

        @Skaperen:

        1) Then that person is being punished for their lack of self control.
        2) We have no idea whether or not the OP did here, and I’ve got lots of friends with perfect credit who chose to use debit cards for various reasons.

        I’m no bastion of perfect credit use – I’ve had my troubles in the past, however I now use a credit card for *everything* – and pay it off, in full, every month. There have been numerous times where a situation like this could’ve spelled disaster with a debit card but having a credit card insulated me.

    • CaptZ says:

      @Ninja007:

      I have been credit free for the last 2 years. I only use my debit card. I have one credit card for emergency use only. My debit card Visa from BoFA is just as secure and has many of the same features as a regular visa, price matching……protection, and now cash back!

      I have never had a problem with BoFA issuing a chargeback on a mistaken charge on my debit card, they are even proactive in the sense that they have called me to verify a charge or pending charge a couple times when a swipe showed up in a location that was not my home area and they saw activity in my home area at the same time period. Some of you may bitch about BoFA, but I have been with them for more than 10 years and never had a problem.

    • HFC says:

      @Ninja007: What exactly is the point of using a check, or cash? A debit card is the same as using a check, only faster and accepted at more places.

    • Chris I says:

      @Ninja007: In Canada at least debit cards are quite common. They are probably used more than (and in place of)cash.

  4. Charmander says:

    Click on “Greyhound Form Letter” at the bottom of the Consumerist article – that will take you directly to Meg Stivison’s blog, which explains it all in detail.

  5. GildaKorn says:

    “Greyhound continuously charged Stivison’s debit card while insisting that she didn’t know the address on her bank statement.”

    I don’t understand this part. Continuously? Did they charge her $1000 more than once, or did they charge multiple amounts that drove the total up to $1000? What’s the deal with the address on her bank statement?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Seems pretty clear to me: they kept saying her card was denied because the information she provided (in this case, her address) didn’t match her bank’s billing information. They kept “trying” to run in through and indicated it was denied each time. Apparently they were wrong and it was hitting her account every time, the charges adding up to over $1,000.

    At least, that’s what I took from the story.

  7. Coles_Law says:

    @GildaKorn It looks like each time she tried to buy her $67.50 ticket, they charged her, even though the website said the purchase failed. Although if this is the case, she tried the website many more times than I would have.

    • From the cubicle of PGibbons says:

      @Coles_Law: I’ve had that happen before on other sites. It says that your purchase didn’t go through – when in fact it HAS. So you naturally try again to buy what you came there to buy – they charge the money but still tell you it “failed.”

      With a credit card it’s a simple process to fix (I wouldn’t waste too much time waiting for these dogs to pickup their phone), but when each time they deduct your account yet tell you it “failed” with a DEBIT card, there are direct implications on other things you use your checking account for.

  8. metaled says:

    Is this a follow up story? I’m glad someone else found out what all of this is about, i went to the link (her Blog) listed at the end of the article, must be in invisible ink since the story here is almost identical to the one on the blog. It does not explain anything, what does the billing address on her bank statement have to do with it? Did the woman (greyhound) charge her card 10 times or did the web site? (10 times $67 is $670, not $1000…) did she try more than the 10 times? 15 or 20? Boy, I would have gave up and Rented a car!
    It really seems like a lot is missing from the story and that I am just reading the follow-up.
    BTW, reply is not working here either!

  9. Karl says:

    This has happened to me a couple of times with different merchants.

    From what I can tell, it’s due to shoddy programming. There are multiple acceptable AVS (address verification system) responses: street address + 5-digit ZIP match, street address + 9-digit ZIP match, 5-digit ZIP match, 9-digit ZIP match, and possibly just a street address match. If your bank returns a different match code than the merchant is expecting (say they’re used to a 5-digit ZIP match response, but your bank gives a street address + 5-digit ZIP match response), they may reject the transaction.

    What they SHOULD do is void the transaction at this point, but they often don’t. So, from the bank’s perspective, they have authorized the charge and are holding those funds until the transaction settles. Furthermore, they don’t even KNOW that the merchant didn’t accept the transaction, and once they’ve authorized the transaction, they’ve essentially made a promise to the merchant that they will get the money. So, they often won’t release the holds until they time out.

  10. HogwartsAlum says:

    Greyhound sucks. Their drivers are nuts. Why should their customer service be any better?

    After coming halfway across the country by Greyhound, I vowed I’d never ride the bus again. I’d rather freaking HITCH.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Some of the charges seem to have come through the from the website (it returned an error saying my transaction had failed and asking me to check my info and try again, and I stupidly did, although NOT 10 times), and some of them were at the telephone rate, which includes a $6 surcharge for the chance to talk to customer service, so I could see that I was charged multiple times, at both rates. I have a lot more patience for a technical glitch than “customer service” being rude AND ripping me of at the same time.

    Also it was a round trip, so it was not $67.

    But, yes, I will definitely be driving next time! I thought it would be more comfortable to sleep on the bus than navigate unknown roads. HA!

    I tried to explain it better + answer more questions on my
    blog.

    –Meg

  12. humphrmi says:

    Greyhound assumes that everyone on their busses are hobos running between cold and warm climates and therefore pay by cash, so they don’t have a mechanism for reversing credit card charges. They assume that if you have a credit card, you have many other ways to get to your destination besides their pee-infested busses. I’m sure they’re sorry, but they don’t know how to say that to non-pee-covered-customers.

    • metaled says:

      @humphrmi: That would be so funny if it weren’t SO TRUE! 30 some odd years ago, I took a 5 day trip across country on one as a small kid. The smell just got worse and worse each day. Packed bus with 1 hour stops mid-day, no-one showered the entire trip (sink-baths at the stops for everyone)and I don’t think they cleaned out the toilet the entire trip. I was 2 rows from the toilet, I still have nightmares! People stopped being friendly to each other the second day. I don’t know how they can be legal!
      I hope they upgraded the stops since then, showers like they have in truck stop now? We were lucky if it was a gas station with candy bars in the small towns we stopped.

      • scrubnick says:

        @metaled: Things must have changed. I used to ride them a lot a few years ago and now they change busses out every 8 hours. A fresh bus is waiting at the stop and the old bus is then cleaned and stuff before getting sent out again.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know why (probably just the general incompetence) but this reminds me of a scene from the film Five Easy Pieces where jack nicholson’s character orders a tuna sandwich at a diner. The waitress says she’s sorry but they dont have tuna sandwiches. To which Jack responds “do you have bread”? she replies “Yes”, Do you have tuna salad” “Yes”. to which he angrily replies. “then toast the damn bread, bring me the tuna salad, and I’ll put it on the bread”
    Its like no one listens anymore! had the same thing recently. I ordered iced coffee. the waitress said they didn”t have it. I asked “Do you have ice” yes, do you have coffee” . Yes, ok bring me a cup of coffee and a cup of ice. I’ll do the rest………

  14. James Babiak says:

    Count yourself lucky if your only surrounded by urine covered hobos on Greyhound. A few years ago I had the poor misjudgment to take a Greyhound bus. My car was in the shop, and I needed to get somewhere for some reason I don’t exactly remember. This was only a short in-state trip (about an hour). Yes the bus was hot. Yes it smelled like urine. But then we stopped at a *cough* station *cough* and five ‘just got out of state prison and are about to re-enter their ghetto lifestyle’ ex-prisoners got out of a department of corrections van and hopped aboard Greyhound to head back home, I knew I would never ride Greyhound again.
    So you are incorrect humphrmi. It’s not only homeless who use Greyhound. It’s also criminals who are rejoining society for a short time.

  15. humphrmi says:

    @James Babiak: I stand corrected.

  16. purplesun says:

    @GTI2.0: 1) Then that person is being punished for their lack of self control.

    I hate it when people say things like that.

    I do not have a single credit card, because I do not qualify for them. Was I lacking in self-control during my rambunctious youth, buying more things than I could afford throughout my college years?

    No – Several years ago, I was working what I thought was an excellent job. Unfortunately, I came into work one Monday and found the entire office emptied out. The boss had taken my last paycheck (and everyone else’s), sold all the company assets over the weekend, and fled the country.

    Well, fine. I was young, educated. I could get another job, no problem.

    One week later I was diagnosed with an extremely unfortunate disease, one that has a high likelihood of causing fatality. With no insurance, I stuck everything on the few credit cards I had left and spent six months not busily trying to find a job, but trying to keep myself alive. Financially, I barely survived, and would probably be homeless and destitute now if not for the helping hands of some good friends, not to mention the thousands of dollars I’d (responsibly) put towards savings when I was employed.

    I called all of my creditors. I explained my situation, discussing my good history with them, how I’d always paid on time, but at the moment, I was hooked up to six different tubes in a hospital room, not working, and I just couldn’t manage it at the moment. They responded my shooting my interest rates through the roof and tearing my credit apart.

    I called my student loan companies and informed them of the situation. A few pieces of paperwork later and I was assured I was ok, until I could get back on my feet. In reality, they shoved my loans off and labeled them as defaulted. They sued me without sending me any paperwork at all (the court claimed the person who came by to give me the paperwork “left it on my porch” – of my apartment – which I hadn’t been at because I was in the damn hospital). My credit score fell ever lower.

    In the space of two years, my entire financial future fell into ruin. Not because I lacked “self-control”, but because, sometimes, life is a bitch. I’m disgusted with the credit card companies and the vile practices they maintain. Had they left my interest rates alone, I probably could have paid them off and they could have enjoyed a healthy return. Now that they’ve made the payment process impossible, I’ve found it cheaper just to deal with the collections agencies.

    The mishandled paperwork from my student loans (currently in legal limbo) caused the amount I owed to increase almost three-fold. I can barely afford the minimum payments on that.

    I have to pay hand over fist every month for the medications I need to keep me upright and able to work. I put into my 401K and I still maintain a pathetic little savings account, though it’s nothing where I would have been had things not gone sour just a handful of years ago.

    Shit happens and it can happen to anyone. So, don’t assume just because someone doesn’t have a credit card that they’re some kind of financial deadbeat. Because, if you do, I’ll probably have to assume you’re some kind of ignorant jackass.

  17. tworld says:

    Here I am having to say the following again. If a business of any kind or size rips off the public, the very people that keeps them in business, then the public should boycott and put them OUT of business.

    As for all these companies with no real CUSTOMER service, they should also get the same boycott treatment, until they realize they have NO CUSTOMERS to give their “service” to.

    Very simple, but effective.

    • James Babiak says:

      @TessTalks:

      Yeah, that’s great in theory. However, the people who ride Greyhound, do it because they have no other choice. If you have money, you will either A) Fly, B) Drive/Rent A Car, C) Train, D) Anything Other Then Greyhound. They don’t have to treat their customers well because their customers have no other choice for the most part. Either take Greyhound with their crappy service, or don’t go at all.

  18. MikeVx says:

    In and of themselves, debit cards don’t represent a problem. I have two, tied to accounts that exist solely to operate the debit cards.

    Where the stupidity comes in is when you have a debit card tied to your primary bill-paying account. This is not inviting trouble. This is frog-marching trouble into your home at gunpoint.

    For me, one debit card account is used for monthly recurring bills that cannot be paid any other way than a credit-card type function or direct debit/auto pay, and DD/AP is an even stupider thing to do.

    The other debit card account is used for non-recurring expenses where I want money saved ahead rather than paid behind.

    These are at separate financial institutions than the one I use for primary payments, so there is no means by which debit card hitches can effect my main household payments. I’ve become a big believer in isolated accounts.

  19. nakedscience says:

    Anyone trying to blame the OP by asking why she didn’t use a credit card needs to check their judgmental privilege at the door. Regardless of how she paid, she is entitled to a refund. Period.