Whoops: Megabus Driver Doesn't Know Route From D.C. To New York

David tells Consumerist that he took a nightmarish Megabus trip where the driver did not, strictly speaking, now how to get to New York City from Washington D.C. After it took the driver an extra three hours to get there, he worked hard to find out how to complain to someone with actual power to give him a refund on. If you find yourself on a similar epic trek, or riding inside a MegaSauna, David sent along the contact information that he found.

I thought I’d let you guys know the email formatting for Coach USA (the company that owns Megabus). It’s FIRSTNAME.LASTNAME@coachusa.com

I had a horrendous experience with Megabus traveling from DC to New York on December 30 to visit a friend for New Year’s Eve. I’ve attached the email I sent to Don Carmichael (Senior VP of Operations) below, but basically the bus driver clearly had no idea what the route between DC and New York was, drove very slowly, and got us to New York 3 hours late.

While I was on the bus, I tried calling MegaBus’s customer service line and ended up on hold for 20 minutes before hanging up. I called the sales office the next day, and someone took down my information and said they’d call me back within a week, but I never heard anything.

Finally after calling around a month after that I talked to someone in MegaBus’ Chicago office who told me I should send an email to Don Carmichael, and gave me his email address. I wasn’t sure if he’d listen to a random email so I called Coach USA’s corporate office (201-225-7500) and asked to talk to Don Carmichael. His secretary asked who I was, and all I had to do was provide my name, I didn’t have to make up any excuse. I briefly explained to him that I had a bad experience on the bus, mentioned that it was 3 hours late, and that I’d like a refund. He said to email him the details and provided him email address (the same as had already been provided to me). That email is what I’ve attached below. About a week later I got a refund for that leg of my trip, $23.00.

Considering how frequently I see posts on your website about bad experiences with bus companies, it might be useful for you to post this information.

For the record, here is the e-mail that David sent to follow up on his phone call. Excellent complaint letter.

Mr. Carmichael, I spoke to you on the phone about a refund for a Megabus trip I took.

The trip was from Washington, D.C. to New York City on December 30, 2009. My bus was supposed to leave at 10:30 AM. It left at around 11:00 AM–not a big deal, but I’m saying this to give you an idea of everything that happened. We then arrived in New York City at about 6:00 PM, when we were supposed to arrive at 3:00 PM. I feel that I am entitled to a refund because the three extra hours were not due to traffic, but due to a driver who did not know the route.

My reservations number was XX-XXX-XXXXXX-XXX-1030-WAS-NEW, and it cost me $23.00

The driver choose to go to New York one way–along I-95, through Philadelphia–instead of taking the New Jersey turnpike. Again, this isn’t a big deal, but I’m trying to give you a picture of what happened. When we got to Philadelphia, the driver got off the highway, crossed the SchuylKill River and drove through Camden, New Jersey to get on the New Jersey turnpike. At the time this was not a big deal. We seemed to be running behind schedule, but the change in course seemed to be because of the traffic on I-95, but it was an odd choice. Several times along the way the driver pulled to the side of the road. I was in the back of the upper lever of the bus, so I could not see why, but I assume it was to check for directions. As we approached the exit for the Lincoln Tunnel, already about an hour late, from I-95 to get into New York city, it became apparent that traffic in the tunnel was packed, a normal occurrence. Instead of waiting through the traffic the bus driver decided to try to find another way into Manhattan. The driver kept driving past the exit for the tunnel, and drove us around Jersey City for about an hour and a half, trying to find a way into the city. It became apparent at this point that the driver didn’t know what he was doing because he stopped twice to ask for directions, and drove in circles. I mean this literally, at some point the driver gave up his search, and turned around to drive back the way we came to get to the Lincoln Tunnel so we could finally get into New York. At this point it took about thirty to forty-five minutes to get into the city.

While I was on the bus I tried to call Megabus customer service (908-282-7420), but was kept on hold for over twenty minutes, so I gave up because I didn’t want my phone to die. I have been trying to get a refund since the day after this happened. I called the phone number listed on Megabus’s website, and someone in the reservations staff said they’d file a claim with customer service, and I should hear back in about a week. It has been nearly four weeks, and I have heard nothing.

Megabus is one of the more convenient ways to get between New York city and Washington, DC, so I’d like to be able to use Megabus in the future, but with the way I’ve been treated, unless you can make up for it by refunding the cost of my ticket, $23.00, I don’t see that happening.

Thank you,
David