Above are the two companies responsible for my WORST customer service story as well as one of the most stressful holidays I have ever had in my entire life. My sincere hope is that someone who works for one of these companies happens to read this blog post and takes the company to task for making a customer so irate, he would devote an entire blog to the experience. Warning, this post will be much longer than my other posts.
But before I begin, for those blog readers out there who have also had a horrible experience with customer service, I am doing a contest. Fill out this form with your WORST customer service story and you will win two tickets to my friend Michael Ian Cedar's Culture Soup Seminar. Remember you must be a blog subscriber to be eligible, so be sure to add your name to the feedblitz tab! Congrats to Katrina Ylimaki on winning the pair of tickets for the best customer service story!
Christmas eve, 10:30am: I arrive at the place where the Megabus picks up the NY passengers. The sidewalk is crowded and I search for the right line. I finally see someone in a yellow vest who tells me that if I am waiting for the bus to Providence, I am to wait against the wall he points to. This is no problem. I stand there noticing it is somewhat cold, but there's only 20 minutes or so before the bus arrives. Then another agent comes by and asks if I am going to Providence. I reply yes and he signals to come with him. I am now in a line of 60 people who have lined up much further down the block. The clock starts ticking and I notice that my 11:10 bus still hasn't arrived and it is 11:30am. The people in back of me are getting restless, some are calling home, some are asking their friends if they have the right time.
Then, a bus drives by our line with the word "PROVIDENCE" glowing in the window. The bus appears to only have 7 people on it. It turns the corner and my natural thought is that the bus is parking around the corner and our line will be directed back there. 15 more minutes pass and still nothing changes. Then an agent comes over and again asks if we are going to Providence. The whole line replies that we are and his face contorts into a frown as he turns and silently walks away. He comes back a few minutes later to inform us that the bus left 60 PEOPLE standing on the sidewalk and the agent who moved us FORGOT to come and get us. There is of course an uproar and he informs us that they have called the bus and he is on his way back. It will just be ten minutes. I can no longer feel my feet.
At 12:45pm, 2hrs and 15 minutes after standing in the freezing cold, ANOTHER agent comes over and informs the line that the bus is NOT coming back and that we are welcome to take the 2pm bus but that there are only 20 seats left on the bus. There is again an uproar from the crowd and we are told to call "customer service" The woman behind me was lucky and got through to customer service where she promptly got her ticket switched. I was not so lucky....
Every time I called the customer service line it rang for at least fifteen minutes and then when the agent finally picked up and I started to explain that I was part of the group of 60 that were left stranded, the agent would hang up on me and I would be transferred to an answering machine. I left a message and never was called back. Eventually I was able to get on the 2pm bus and although late, I made it home for Christmas. I then called the day after Christmas about my experience. I was cut off in the middle of my sentence, by the woman on the other line who said that I would get a refund within 3-5 days. No further questions, no offering something else, no information as to who to contact to explain my frustration. This woman had no interest in helping me, she just wanted to get me off of the phone.
What a waste.
If that were my opportunity, I would take the time to listen to entire problem. If I was the CEO of Megabus and I heard about that unfortunate experience, I would have sent a letter or personal apology for the occurrence and offered multiple free rides to every one of those 60 people as a way to keep my customers. I would also find out who was on the customer service lines that day deliberately hanging up on my paying customers and fire everyone of them. Of course I care about my customers. I don't give them lip service. Needless to say, Megabus has lost my business and most likely 60 other people. They are particularly lucky that the press didn't get wind of this as it would have been one heck of a holiday story.
December 27th 7:30 a.m. I decided after my horrid experience with Megabus that I would give Peter Pan a try. I purchased my ticket online according to the prompts on their website. I got my email confirmation and was sitting outside again in the cold waiting for the 8:20am bus. When the bus arrived, I eagerly walked up to the bus driver and showed him the ticket on my phone. He looked at me as if I was holding a turd to his face and said that the bus was full. I asked how that was possible as I had bought a ticket. He said that the seat needed to be "reserved". Apparently this is something that is on the website, but not explained very well at all to a new customer. I then watched as the bus drove away after the bus driver sneered and informed me that I would have to wait and catch the 11:20am bus which would make me late for a number of my appointments in the city.
I then went inside and asked the station agent what I needed to do to make sure my seat was "reserved" he told me that I needed to add $5 to my ticket. (Something that I should have been prompted to do online) I did this and he handed me a receipt and told me to show this to the bus driver. I then sat and read in the station for about two hours. I highly recommend Guy Kawasaki's book Enchantment which kept me calm as I experienced more customer service hell. The bus arrived at 11:30am and I again walked up to the driver and showed him the receipt. He promptly told me that I couldn't get on with that receipt and that I needed to have a printed ticket. I sprinted inside the station and told this to the agent who then asked me for the confirmation number in my email and printed the ticket. By the time I go outside the bus driver was already INSIDE the bus! I sprinted and with another look of disgust he lets me on. I then finally ride home absolutely exhausted from my experience.
Here's the major take away:
As Gary Vaynerchuk pointed out in his brilliant book The Thank You Economy, it's a really bad idea for companies to make customers angry, because we Facebook, Tweet, and yes BLOG about it. So if you are working for one of these organizations and you're reading this, the writing is on the wall. Pay attention to what your employees are doing and what your customers are telling you, because there are folks out there who WILL make their displeasure known.
In 2011 I rode the bus.
Thanks to poor customer service, in 2012 it'll only be the train.