There were two seats left on the Greyhound bus by the time Peyton and I boarded. They were not together – but I had prepared Peyton for that. I assumed (and you know what that means) that other passengers and the bus driver would help us sit as close together as possible. I was wrong on both accounts.
As far as traveling during a busy season I thought we were going to luck out. There were two seats diagonally across the aisle from one another. We’d be in arms reach of one another. And I figured by the time we got to Macon we’d find seats together.
So why didn’t we end up on a bus?
One of the seats had a sleeping passenger with a coat over his head taking up two seats. I tried to wake him with no luck – I hope he was only sleeping and not dead. When I asked the bus driver to help I was told that Greyhound runs on a “first come first served” basis and that they couldn’t ask anyone to move. He was running late and I had to make a decision. A decision? There was no where for me to sit!
To clarify. I never would have let Peyton sit out of my sight – and again I just assumed people would have been cool about making sure we sat together.
Anyway, I decided to get off the bus. I was told there was nothing they could do – it was my responsibility to find a seat.
OK – I’ll play devils advocate. In hind sight I believe the driver assumed I was trying to get us to sit together and he wasn’t going to do anything to help facilitate that. In fact I was later told that the driver was a professional and in no way would ever let someone take up two seats – which in my books qualifies as being called a liar – but I also know that when employees feel they can’t do anything for you they feel like they need to defend themselves.
This was meant to be a bit of an adventure for Peyton – for whatever reason she loves traveling via bus – and was a perfectly affordable way to get home so the Ross family could travel this holiday season in one car.
In fairness the service was the regular ole “I can only do what I can do” service you get anywhere now a days. But the experience was HORRIBLE! I felt taken advantage of. I felt like my child’s safety was out of my control. I felt like I didn’t have a voice. I felt like I did everything right and it didn’t matter. I felt like I (as a customer) didn’t matter.
I would strongly advise anyone traveling with children to read the fine print and purchase refundable tickets. You never know when you’re going to get on a bus like this one.
Whenever possible try to get on the bus at the trips origin. “First Come, First Served” doesn’t have anything to do with when you arrive at the bus stop, it has to do with what order you get on the bus.
Greyhound did offer to put us on the next bus – for a $15 change fee, but seats would not be guaranteed. Plus the next bus doesn’t get into Savannah until after dark and FYI there is a reason why I purchased tickets on the morning bus. I did ask if they could change the point of origin of this ticket to the Downtown location (10 minutes away) to help ensure we got a seat – they could not.
We’ll head to Savannah Friday – Peyton will miss two days of school (believe me she got more upset over this than I did over the experience) – but all things considered I feel like this was the safest option. If I had it to do all over again I just would have spent the money on a car rental.
If you’re not happy and feel wronged by a company all means share it – but don’t be passive aggressive about it. Go directly to the company.
My Take Away
Empower employees to stand up for your customers and not behind policy. I was given a customer service phone number that did not work to communicate my grievances. This, as you can imagine, created more frustration and lead me straight to my Facebook page.
Social media is a great communication tool. If you don’t have someone listening to what is being said about you online you are probably missing opportunities to either fix an issue or promote a testimonial. pssst: I can help you with this!
All’s Well That Ends Well
I gave the experience a good hour to simmer in my mind before I started trying to contact anyone. I was truly upset over it and needed time to process what happened – including my part in it. I feel like if I had got back on that bus and made a scene maybe someone would have moved and maybe the “sleeping” person would have eventually heard me… we would have arrived in Savannah, but it would probably have been an uncomfortable ride.
When the phone number didn’t work I took to the internet. I posted on my own page asking for feedback on the idea of customer service and received a lot of great comments. Then I went to Greyhound’s social media accounts to post a few comments and connect with other unhappy customers.
How do you make a difference with social media? BE ENGAGED! It’s not enough to just have a page and broadcast updates. Greyhound has people listening and reaching out! I met Tammy. Great name! Who was more than happy to listen to me and take the conversation off line. She called me. Gave me the opportunity to tell her what happened and then had the power to make it right.
This is pretty important. Remember my McDonald’s experience over a year ago. I complained on social media and wrote a post and never heard a word. Not that the Ross family can be bring down McDonalds, but this is a Capitalist Society and I make choices on how to spend my money based on a number of factors and with a number of options available to me I don’t have to pay for bad service.
I’m still disappointment in the experience, but my feelings toward it have changed. I have been more than heard – my feelings have been validated! It is amazing to me how different I feel and a great testament to how much an individual can represent a whole company.
Treating someone with respect will take you further than policy any day of the week.
So I end my post with a Kudos to Greyhound for hiring Tammy and empowering her with the tools she needs to effectively manage her customer’s expectations – a career choice she obviously enjoys.
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