Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I survived Megabus. I wouldn't recommend it. While it was dirt cheap, their customer service policy seems to be "we're cheap, deal with it" but with a few hundred F-bombs thrown in for good measure. We had to endure 4 segments, 2 there and 2 back.

Round one, Minneapolis to Chicago: ugh. Overcrowded, so we all have to sit separately (me + 7 teenagers) filling in seats next to people who were trying desperately not to share them (uh, sorry? buy 2 seats next time? or just stop being a douchebag?). We leave about half an hour late, and I resign myself to headphones and a book, only to realize a half hour later that we are on the wrong road and going the wrong way. Apparently Megabus does not have GPS, and decided to improvise at a detour. Despite our cautions "not to talk to the driver at any time!" someone spoke up and luckily got us turned around and headed in the (correct) opposite direction. The thermostat was set at UBERCHILL, and the Internet service was spotty at best - I could sometimes check email, I could never stream Pandora or Hulu.

Somewhere in between radio stations I took out my headphones to discover that my teens, on our way to the National Speech & Debate Tournament, had engaged the entire back of the bus in a series of debates about the state of national politics.

Oh dear Jeebus.

Somehow that discussion received a warm welcome and avid participation, and the only real "I will CUT YOU" moment came when one kid started to hum along with his iPod. Okay.

When we arrived in Chicago my kids bid adieu to their "new friends" and received mandatory hugs, which as chaperon I probably should have tried to save them from, but I was more concerned with avoiding one of my own. Put on your own oxygen mask before helping children, right? Anyways, buoyed by our excitement for the still-new trip, we survived leg one, a bit chilled and dragging. Somehow we made up our lost time (though nobody was willing to tell us what time we'd be arriving at our first destination, and in fact the driver announced "stop asking me when we will arrive, I'll make an announcement for everyone when I make an announcement and that's why I make an announcement." I may have a few words off, but it was that mean and unintelligible. So it was a pleasant surprise when we rolled in to Chicago only about a half hour late and had enough time to grab lunch downtown.

Leg 2 was actually the best of the trip, the bus was barely occupied, we all got our own seats, it was dark and the temperature was more moderate and I just whipped out True Blood and did a quick recap on Season 4 before the impending premier. I also didn't realize that we crossed a time zone during that leg of the trip until one of the kids came up to ask if we should call a cab, being about 10 mins away when I thought we were still over an hour out. Time travel, nice!

Then the actual trip took place, blah blah, too long away from my baby, fun but stressful competition, la la la.

The trip home sucked royally. We left our hotel at 5:30am, meaning I got up at 4, which was really 3 in my timezone. And then we lugged our crap 10 blocks to the bus stop, and we waited. And waited. And waited. Our 6:35 departure came and went, and somewhere around 7am I got ahold of Megabus to ask what was going on, and was pretty much told "F YOU."

No, seriously. They used other words. The woman said "I haven't heard anything." Okay. "What happens if we miss our next bus in Chicago? "Well, you can file for a refund." Uh, okay. But how do we get out of Chicago, do you put us on another bus? "No." So I'm just stuck in Chicago with 7 kids and an urge to stab your eyeballs with salad forks? "Yes, that's our policy."

Awesome, thanks, Megabus, for reminding me that "cheap" is not necessarily the best option when it drains a significant portion of my will to live.

An hour later I got ahold of the actual customer service line (that didn't open until 7:30am CENTRAL time) and was told 1. yes, that is their policy "if we're late, you're screwed! ha ha ha!" 2. She was such a nice person, she would try to get us on the next bus anyways (okay), and 3. She officially advised people to never try to make a connection on Megabus (?!?!? What does that mean?!?!? What is the proper window of time to devote to Megabus then?!?!) and that they were soon putting it on the website and in their terms that they were not responsible for anything. Ever. And also, F you.

I may have added words to explain the tone of the conversation at the end there.

So just as we were told the bus was coming at 9am, there it goes and rolls up at 8. Right after everyone else who was waiting had dispersed to various other locations, and I was on the phone looking for a car rental (I WAS going to get home that day. Regardless of method required.)

So we get on the bus, seats together, leg 3 goes okay and we even make up some of the time, so instead of missing our connection we roll in to Chicago with about a half hour until our next bus leaves, just enough time to disembark and stand in a luggage pile while the kids ran for fast food. Then we were "those people" who ate stinky food on the bus, but sorry man, it was a long freaking day and we got up at 3am.

Also, everyone else on that last leg of the trip were giant dickheads and deserved much worse than a little french fry scent. Case in point: we all sit together in the back of the bus. Moments before leaving, woman with baby enters and sits just in front of us. Proceeds to "shush" us the next 8 hours so her baby can sleep.

Um, no. I'm a parent. 1. I'd never take my baby on Megabus, but 2. It is not the rest of the world's responsibility to cater to your baby. 3. You're a jerk, if we want to talk at a normal level in what is basically a public space, you can either deal with it, or move. Especially since we were seated first, and in a large group. I was too tired to argue at this point, but will hope that this woman gets her just desserts in some other horrible way. She also had the strange parenting choice of leaving her baby (in a carrier) on the bus while she disembarked to smoke. And I thought I was mother of the year!

Speaking of ignoring your kids, we also got stuck entertaining a precotious 10 year old traveling with his grandfather, the later whom never said a word to the kid and even left to go sit downstairs for a while when clearly the kid was being an intrusive @$$ and we were all sick of him long ago. He has 2 girlfriends who he kisses French, he is THE BEST DANCER (self reported) and THE BEST EVERYTHING (self reported) and spent hours taking photos and videos of us, interjecting into our conversations, asking for our food, and other such obnoxiousness. Again, too tired to deal with the fall out of telling the world how their actions were wrong, but egads, I still hate other peoples' kids. And other people. Just in general.

This bus had the AC set on sub-zero, which I kindly asked the driver to remedy at a stop, and he did...for a while. Then he cranked it back up inexplicably and announced "stop telling me about the temperature, it is set on 75 (lies!) and I have to concentrate on the driving." I wonder if Megabus has their own charm school? So I shivered and suffered in my jeans, knee-hi socks, shoes, t-shirt, sweater, and jacket - yes, even all those layers were no defense. My poor kids with shorts and flip-flops were miserable. Also on this final desperate ride, the Internet didn't work at all (Megabus is very clear that they provide internet on every bus! Also, if it doesn't work, F YOU! Again with the customer service).

Lessons learned:
- Megabus, while cheap, is not worth it.
- Megabus has an odd but apparently successful business model built around possibly delivering some services for a good price, but not necessarily guaranteeing anything, and must encourage their drivers to be surly and rude. Also, though they say your luggage can have a combined dimension of 62", if you actually bring a bag that size they will yell at you, make you wait till the end to load, and tell you to "cut back next time" (?!?!?).
- 8 days is too long to be away from my Cupcake so far.
- In 8 days away The Hubs may have taught TC to sleep through the night (Also ?!?!?!)

Yeah, crazy happening everywhere. Based on my experience with MB I'm not even going to attempt a strongly worded letter, since they've been bold with their lack of customer service intentions and clearly do not care. I survived. I learned. And now I'm home and settling into my still new life.

I've decided (much like Megabus?) not to give a hoot and deal with editing this, so hey, it's free, deal with it :)

1 comment:

Grant said...

Yeesh. Amazing a business that treats its customers like that can survive. But people will take a lot abuse to get things cheap.

I'm going to Chicago next week and was going to take MegaBus (opted instead for Spirit Airline which has it's own issues), guess I made the right call.

Hope things are going well.