Greyhound Canada “Customer Care”?

If there is one thing that truly gets under my skin it is poor customer service after I have made a transaction with a company or business and I am still engaged in said transaction.  As part of my travel plan to CPFC12 in Toronto I decided to take the Greyhound Canada bus line out of Peterborough. Less stress, sharing a ride with a bunch of strangers which saves on vehicle emissions and a relatively low cost – it made sense (low stress especially – driving in the GTA is not on my fun-things-to-do-list).  The bus would deliver me about 10 minutes (walk) from my hotel. Win-win-win-win, right? Not so fast.

All went well on the trip to Toronto.  I left Peterborough on the 5 pm bus (on a Friday).  The line of (what I would guess was mostly students) passengers was massive and our bus left the downtown terminal 9 minutes late.  This is not my gripe.  Heck, Greyhound even had a 2nd bus to handle overflow.  Good stuff.  To meet client need a sustainable business must meet demand and Greyhound Bus Lines did just that.

The driver of our bus was very cheerful despite having to process a large number of passengers and load a lot of luggage under the bus knowing full well in just over 90 minutes he would be the poor soul trying to navigate downtown T.O. on a Friday night.  No one had a “spare” open seat beside them – we were packed right in.

We arrived about 20 minutes late to the terminal.  I was already late for the Friday night bowling / pub social and still had to check into my hotel. Still not my gripe.  Traffic happens.  I can’t blame the driver as he was still all smiles as we got off his bus even after dealing with the traffic.  I can’t blame Greyhound as they have no control over GTA infrastructure.

So CPFC12 Saturday was awesome.  I did have to catch a return bus home.  I had bought and paid for this ticket prior to embarking on my weekend adventure in the big city and I sure was going to use it.  Mrs. and lil’ SPF needed me to get home.  Full time Dad but just a part time blogger!

So back to the Greyhound terminal for me.  I had to wait for the bus to arrive as I was early.  No big deal. I contently stood in line with every other person doing their best to pretend they didn’t see/know/associate with the other people in the line.  This is why I love Toronto.  I enjoyed a coffee.

The bus rolled up on time. Great I thought – home in no time. Sunday traffic should be low.  I put my bag under the bus and make my way to a vacant seat.  With far fewer people (compared to Friday) taking this early bus it appeared I would have some space to stretch out.  I sat down and pulled out a notebook to jot down some of the thoughts racing around in my head.

And then I saw it.

Yellow and black stripes almost flying into my head whizzes by my peripheral vision.  The sound of a low bzzzzzzz passing closely by my ear.

A bee.

Not a slow and dopey nectar slurping “bumblebee”.  This sucker was fast and smaller.  I am pretty darned good at seeing wasps/hornets/yellow jackets at a distance.  I have to be.

If a bee stings me, I can die, quickly. Like 20 minutes quick.

So I am on a bus which still has passengers loading, confined, with a critter that can take me out.  All I want to do is get back to my wife and son and now I have my worst enemy potentially sharing a 90-120 minute drive with me.  The bus suddenly looks like a coffin to me.

But I didn’t freak out.  Can’t.  The one thing I have learned about these aggressive little death makers is that freaking out freaks it out.  A freaked out bee is much more likely to attack than one that is lost or minding its own business.

So I wait, sweating a bit.  Looking around a bit, hoping to use my only super power: enhanced bee sighting, to good use.  No sign of the bee but I do notice a few people behind me swatting at the air.

After what felt like 20 minutes (likely 5) the bus passengers were in their seats and the driver boarded.  He sat in the front passenger seat and was working on some sort of form on a clipboard.  I figured, who best to approach about my current dilemma.  The driver of course (being the only Greyhound employee present).  The following is our exchange:

SPF: Excuse me, I have a bit of an issue I think I should bring to your attention.

Bus Driver (looking up): What?

SPF: There is a hornet on this bus.

Bus Driver: So?

SPF: Well, I am highly allergic to bees and …. <<cut-off>>

Bus Driver: I can’t do anything about that. You can take a later bus. You can get a refund.

SPF: No, I need to get home to my wife and son. If I by chance get stung by the bee on this bus you can enjoy the experience of having a passenger go into anaphalactic shock and possibly die while you navigate highway 401.

SPF (walking back to his seat): Folks, I noticed a wasp on this bus. I am allergic. If you’re able and willing, and happen to see it and can take it out I would appreciate it. I wouldn’t want to delay your ride with a medical emergency. Thanks.

Lady sitting 2 rows behind me:  Do you have an Epipen?

SPF: Yes, thanks, but i’d really prefer to not use it on the busiest highway in Canada!

I got stung/bitten 6 times by ground wasps during the summer.  These “lesser” bees don’t do nearly the damage their big brothers can.  I do however, still react very poorly. Symptoms start to go away after about a week so I had 6 weeks of swelling, pain and throbbing throughout Canada’s short summer season.  I take bees seriously.

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Forearm bite.

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Lower Leg bite. Notice lack of ankle on left.
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Bite on knee. Red below was purple in no time.
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Lower forearm hands – side view

Perhaps Greyhound driver policy is to not engage in activities where harm could come to the driver.  OK, I get that.  One Greyhound passenger was beheaded on a Greyhound Canada bus back in 2008.  The driver in that scenario doesn’t appear to have done anything about it until he was outside the bus, as puzzling as that is.

My customer service complaint is that the driver of my bus on this Sunday morning didn’t care.  At all.  Why so numb, chum? I was polite and think I had a legitimate concern. You brushed me and my predicament aside. No empathy, certainly no problem solving. Just cold, heartless dismissal and refusal to even considering helping me.

I paid for the ticket.  I am a customer. My Friday driver was awesome. You Sunday driver, were not. Result? 1100 words pointing at a company and an employee who failed.  A customer / passenger sat on your bus for 2 hours on Sunday, fearing for his life hoping to get home safe and sound so he could once again see his wife and attend the upcoming birthday of his 51 week old child.  Kudos.

I figure the bee flew off the bus before departure as I did not see it again.  I also didn’t risk taking a nap.

24 thoughts on “Greyhound Canada “Customer Care”?

  1. That sting looks really bad! I can’t believe the nerve of the bus driver to just brush you off like that. I will keep this in mind if I travel by bus again.

    1. Those are less poisonous ground wasps. When one of its big siblings leaves a stinger in me I blow up like the stay-puff marshmellow giant from Ghostbusters. That is, until my ability to inhale oxygen is eventually cut off by growing hives. Scary and happens fast.

  2. Sorry to hear about your experience with the “could care less” bus driver. I have great memories of Greyhound bus trips back and forth to home while I was gong to college. I would have thought the bus driver would have shown more concern not only for your safety but the other passengers. I’ve seen plenty of people freak out at the site of a bee. That would be a fairly dangerous situation on a bus full of people. All it would have taken is 5 minutes to have everyone check there area for the bee and take it out and you would have been on your way. I’m with you on the customer service!

    1. I feel that if it was a poisonous snake or scorpion that bus would have been cleared and the deadly critter dealt with. The indifference was insulting.
      To your point of good Greyhound experiences, mine have been mostly like yours – including my Friday trip. I suppose people don’t always assume that folks have outlets to express their disdain with an experience, product or company.

  3. Sorry about your experience. That sucks. I haven’t had bad service from them myself so I can’t really complain. A good friend of mine husband works for them and I can say they work them too much. Often the drivers are overtired and boarderline unsafe if you ask me based on the hours they get them to keep. I am sure that if I was worked as hard as those drivers I wouldn’t be in my best form either. I am not excusing it but there may have been a reason why they were less than helpful.

    I also know that they get penalized if they stop the bus. In fact sometimes they don’t even get paid for the run because they are on such tight time lines. Not much incentive for providing good service.

    1. Miss T – I appreciate this. I admit I was totally focused on my own experience and not that of the driver. I did try to place blame on the company as well but it is so hard to do being faceless. Personal insight does add some good perspective for others who happen to stumble across my “review”.

  4. It’s horrible when we let the “not part of my job” aspect of life get in the way of being humane to another. Sorry you were on the receiving end of that.

    1. It was awful but Miss T does add some perspective. Regardless, I think there is a certain level of respect humans should honour each other with regardless of how bad your day or job is.

  5. Wow, sounds like a terrifying experience! I hope if I was riding on a bus and something went wrong with my Diabetes that the bus driver might be willing to help out before I croaked :(

    Glad you made it home safe and sound!

  6. Ugh, that’s terrible. I’ve always felt like a person should take pride in their work, no matter what they’re doing. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve smiled cheerily at while working in customer service…

    That aside, the driver definitely should have done something about the bee. Passenger safety IS his concern.

  7. I take the greyhound quite a bit because I don’t have a car. City bus systems can only get me so far.

    While I will continue to ride with greyhound to save the money, I have learned to never expect to arrive at my destination on time. Traffic I can understand… but one trip I took the bus made many many stops that had not been listed on the itinerary.

    This summer I think I rode the greyhound 8 or 9 times. The best time I was about 30 minutes late, the worse was about 3 and a half hours. Not one driver ever made an announcement about being late, apologized, or gave us an update of when he expected we would arrive.

    1. My Dad once said (about VIA) – it may be on time, once in a while, but it will never, ever arrive or leave early.
      When Mrs. SPF went to visit her family in Montreal last summer we were on a time crunch getting her to the VIA station after spending 8 days at our cottage. Rule of baby – take your estimate and multiple 2x !! We arrived 10 mins before “departure”. The train rolled up, we freaked, scrambled (me far behind carrying everything BUT lil’ SPF (Mrs had him). We got on, but low and behold, it didn’t leave until the departure time.

      Trains have the luxury of controlling their “highway”. I don’t mind giving buses some leeway. But like you, my bus ended up doing the “milk run” when I thought it was supposed to be express. That trip (without the bee but me thinking there was a bee) took 125mins instead of 90mins. Fun day.

  8. Yikes, definitely not a fun experience from the sounds of it. I would think it would be easier to deal with getting the bee shooed out a window rather than a severe allergic reaction, but apparently not :P

    Not the best way to end a weekend, but I’m glad to hear you got home – and it was great to meet you!

  9. VERY sorry to hear about your experience.

    I read this a week ago and realize I didn’t comment. That is probably one of the worst examples of customer service I have heard or read about.

    Failure to consider someone else’s health concerns, is a big “no-no” in my book.


  10. Sorry to hear about your horrible experience. I also regularly take the Greyhound bus when I have business trips to avoid long driving. I am amazed that their driver did not show even the slightest concern with your complaint. One of their main priorities should be passenger safety and their actions will surely have a bad effect on their company’s reputation. You should try writing a letter of complaint to their management or even to their CEO.

    1. I’ve considered doing so DB, however, while the driver was a jerk, I don’t want to ruin his life. This job may be the thing that keeps his family afloat – fed and housed. So he may have been uber-insensitive I don’t want to follow suit and act equally as crummy.

  11. Greyhound customer service in Canada at least, is finished….about ten years ago when taking the Greyhound with my young son, if there was a delay or problem, I simply called the 1-800 info line and I spoke to someone “live” in Calgary, the companys’ headquarters…then, to my shock, about a year or two later, when the number was called, you spoke to someone in a call centre in Texas. They didnt know Jasper Alberta from Jasper Texas, and didnt seem to care. A year or so after that, the call cenmtre was in India ! Language problems, and the same ineptitude about where certain cities & towns were located posed a constant problem…Now, I beleive its ALL automated….you dont even talk to a “real” person…..aint progress great ??? You have just witnessed the progression of customer service in not just Greyhounds’, but many company’s way of dealing with the public !!

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