Friday, September 2, 2011

Intercity Buses: You Call This Customer Service?

I could fill your ears (eyes) with stories that would curl your hair forever.

Here's another one from a few weeks ago. I'd pre-booked Ontario Northland to take the bus from Coldwater to Toronto and a MegaBus to take from Toronto to Kingston. Both drivers knew I was coming when I used them August 16th. However, neither of them knew I was coming on my return August 21st, and they made no bones about letting me know how inconvenient I was to them, by showing up.

The Ontario Northalnd driver said he couldn't take me because his boss hadn't warned him that he would be taking a wheelchair passenger beforehand. He was driving an accessible bus so I made a point of pointing that out. He didn't care. He wasn't warned, so he wasn't going to take me. Well, in the end, he did. I made him phone his boss. When his boss said he had to take me, he got in the bus and started throwing things out of it - in anger. Twenty-five minutes later I was on the bus.

When we got near Barrie the driver announced over the buses' loudspeaker system that Barrie was the next stop. He then said he would let people out, but he wouldn't let new people board because "there was wheelchair in the bus and she was taking up 6 seats." I laughed out loud and said, in a real loud voice, don't you love the quality of customer service for people who are NOT making his day by showing up and making work a little harder?" I have no idea what the other passengers did from Barrie, but true to his word, he left them behind. They probably had to take GO, which is cheaper anyway.

As for MegaBus, they didn't know I was coming and so the driver said he would load the bus and, if there was any space left over, he would take me. I ignored him because I've learned it doesn't help to get angry. I just sat and waited for a 1/2 hour in a prominent spot while he loaded the bus. They finally moved the seat forward so I thought, good. I'm on. Well, there were problems. After 5 employees were paraded through the bus and they all came out looking puzzled, they started up the engine. I had no idea what was going out so I called out to one of the 'consultants' (employees) who had just finished looking at whatever it was inside the bus and asked, "I said, is there a problem?"

That's when he came back and said to me, "Oh, did nobody tell you? We don't have an Allen Key to unlock the portable ramp, so we can't take you." I couldn't believe it. I gather their plan was to just drive away and leave me sitting there, but there's a chance I could be wrong.

All I know is I said, "What size do you need, and I pulled out my Allen Keys!" It was a banner moment.

His jaw dropped with surprise and he let me get onto the bus - thank God.

If they'd left me behind I would have been stuck in Toronto for 2 days because neither Via Rail or the Buses will let me get a bus in under 48 hours anymore.

I can't keep fighting these things one-by-one through human rights because no one enforces whatever decision is made anyway.

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