(For the full background to this story, make sure you listen to the 22nd August episode of #TuesdayNightJaw in which Jim, Glen and Jon lay out our travel woes during our recent trip to New York City and Boston.)
TL/DR: we hired a coach to drive us from New York to Boston. The coach didn't show up and the hire company couldn't tell us why. So, after a very stressful night, our group ended up getting the train from New York to Boston at 7am and more or less going straight to our venue.
We've refrained from naming US Coachways publicly... until now. You'll see why. Read on...
13th August (the night of the incident)
We spend upwards of 3 hours cumulatively on the phone to US Coachways. It's the middle of the night and a weekend, obviously the offices are closed other than the night duty Dispatch person.
Throughout the night, Dispatch tells us that they don't know where the bus is, and that they can't reach the driver to find out.
Eventually, because we've been left stranded, we have to get ourselves to Boston somehow (for the full story and timeline listen to the podcast) so we get a convoy of taxis from Queens to New York Penn station.
Cost: $80 x4.
We buy 15 on-the-day train tickets to Boston. The difference between the cost of the bus hire and the cost of the train tickets: $729.80.
As a result of not being in them, we also had a number of hotel rooms booked in Boston which were not used that night.
All of which means that the OBJECTIVE COST incurred by Progress as a direct result of US Coachways not fulfilling their obligation: $2526.39
14th August -
Our bus hire fee is refunded, which is great. No accompanying email, note or phone call, which is less great.
15th August -
We call our sales rep at US Coachways, no answer, leave a message asking for an explanation. No-one calls back.
22nd August -
We call our sales rep again. He's on holiday and asks how we got his number, which he had previously given us. He directs us to US Coachways customer service.
We call US Coachways customer service. A full explanation of the circumstances is given, and the woman we speak to asks us to email our itemised compensation claim. This is done. We ask for nothing more than the objective costs incurred.
1st September -
After 10 days with no response, a follow-up email receives an immediate reply from someone else. We are offered - wait for it - $50 off a future booking by way of compensation! Just let that digest a little.
We call the woman who has offered us $50 credit. She looks up our file on the system and tells me that the bus didn't show up due to a mechanical failure, and that Dispatch knew that this was the case at the time.
(Now, head back up the page and re-read the bit about Dispatch repeatedly telling us that he didn't know where the bus or the driver were)
Having established that US Coachways LIED TO US, we ask to speak to the customer services director. His name is Joe Lucci. Unsurprisingly he is unable or unwilling to talk to us, so a message is left asking him to call, or to provide a direct phone number so that we can call him.
5th September -
Mr Lucci has not responded. A follow-up email is sent, and a cut-and-paste reply comes back within 25 minutes apologising for any inconvenience caused answers stressing the company's commitment to fairness and integrity.
We reply that same afternoon, asking for our objective costs to be refunded and a prompt response. Nothing more, nothing less.
7th September -
A summary of where we're at, nearly 4 weeks after the incident:
US Coachways hired us a bus and then failed to deliver
US Coachways lied to us at the time about why the bus hadn't turned up
US Coachways failing to deliver has cost us $2526.39 in addition to the bus hire cost
US Coachways have offered us $50 off a future booking by way of compensation
US Coachways have repeatedly been given opportunities to make this good, but have not taken them.
And so we find ourselves here. We didn't want to name US Coachways publicly, but we've been left with little option. If you are so minded, you can contact US Coachways to make your feelings known on this matter. Even if you don't want to do that, please share this post around so that anyone thinking about using US Coachways for their travel can reconsider their options.
Full disclosure: we told Mr Lucci that we would be posting this, and offered him one last opportunity to make things right before we did so.