Monday, July 16, 2012


Lakefront Lines
ATTN: Ticket Refunds
P.O. Box 81172
Cleveland, OH 44181

Greyhound Lines, Inc.
ATTN: Ticket Refunds
P.O. Box 660691, MS 470
Dallas, TX 75266-0691

Jefferson Lines
Refund Department
2100 E. 26th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55404

July 16, 2012

RE: Request for refund – Lakefront Lines ticket 9142856301

To Whom It May Concern:

As the purchaser of the above listed ticket for my son xxxxx Ambrose, I request the approval of a refund of $184.00, which was the purchase price of the above listed ticket. Lakefront Lines and/or Greyhound Lines and/or Jefferson Lines committed a breach of contract by not transporting my son to his final destination for the above listed ticket.

On June 16, 2012, I purchased the above listed ticket for my son xxxxx Ambrose. The ticket was a round-trip ticket from Fort Wayne, IN to Spooner, WI. There were six schedules for the trip:

  • Fort Wayne, IN to Chicago, IL: Depart Fort Wayne 0310 7/4/12, Arrive Chicago 0545 7/4/12, LFL Schedule 0043
  • Chicago, IL to Eau Claire, WI: Depart Chicago 0835 7/4/12, Arrive Eau Claire, WI 1430 7/4/12, GLI Schedule 4712
  • Eau Claire, WI to Spooner, WI: Depart Eau Claire 1500 7/4/12, Arrive Spooner 1720 7/4/12, JL Schedule 917
  • Spooner, WI to Eau Claire, WI: Depart Spooner 1205 7/14/12, Arrive Eau Claire 1420 7/14/12, JL Schedule 918
  • Eau Claire WI to Chicago, IL: Depart Eau Claire 1420 7/14/12, Arrive Chicago 2205 7/14/12, GLI Schedule 4737
  • Chicago, IL to Fort Wayne, IN: Depart Chicago 2235 7/14/12, Arrive Fort Wayne 0350 7/12/12, LFL Schedule 0040


On 7/4/12, xxxxxxx boarded his scheduled departure from Fort Wayne and traveled to Chicago. He transferred to his scheduled bus from Chicago to Eau Claire without incident. Upon arriving in Eau Claire, he waited for his bus from Eau Claire to Spooner. At approximately 1525, 25 minutes after his scheduled departure from Eau Claire to Spooner, Jonathan inquired with the bus agent about when the bus from Eau Claire to Spooner would arrive. He was told by the agent that that bus “stopped running a couple of weeks ago.” My son was stranded, approximately 85 miles from his final destination, and was told he would need to make arrangements for someone to pick him up.

For xxxxxxx's return trip, he departed directly from Eau Clare, because he accepted the word of the bus agent in Eau Claire, that there is no service between Spooner, WI and Eau Claire, WI.
This is a breach of contract by Lakefront Lines and/or Greyhound Lines and/or Jefferson Lines. The bus ticket is a binding contract between Lakefront Lines and/or Greyhound Lines and/or Jefferson Lines and my son xxxxxxx, along with myself as the purchaser of the ticket. In addition to the ticket sale by Lakefront Lines and/or Greyhound Lines and/or Jefferson Lines, further evidence of negligence in this sale includes the acceptance of Jonathan's baggage, checked to Spooner, WI, along with the continued advertisement of bus service from Eau Claire, WI to Spooner, WI on Jefferson Lines Schedules 971 and 918.

I am enclosing copies of the following documentation:

  • Unused ticket from Eau Claire, WI to Spooner, WI
  • Unused ticket from Spooner, WI to Eau Claire, WI
  • Receipt for ticket purchase
  • Ticket itinerary
  • Baggage Claim CC 011665, showing baggage was checked to Spooner, WI
  • Jefferson Lines Schedules 917/918, retrieved from Jefferson Lines website on 7/4/2012.

Since there are three bus companies involved with the bus ticket, I am sending this refund request to all three companies. I expect a refund of $184.00 within 14 days of the receipt of this letter, or a written explanation as to why the refund is denied. Should you have further questions, I may be contacted as listed above. Thank you for your prompt consideration of this matter.



Sincerely,



Shawn Ambrose

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Just got off the phone with Andy Kaplinsky - Greyhound's CFO

First off, I want to publicly thank Andy Kaplinsky for taking time to call me today. We had a good free-flowing conversation on several topics relating to Greyhound, customer service, etc. He apologized for the long delay in getting back to me, and took a great deal of time to thank me and the petition signers for their concerns.

According to Andy, 80 - 90% of their charge backs are related to the "gift tickets." Charge backs for gift tickets primarily fall into 2 categories: 1) Fraud - someone steals a credit card and buys a bus ticket; 2) A person buys a ticket for someone else, the person doesn't show up, and the purchaser wants their money back. Andy freely admitted that the gift ticket fee has been a topic of discussion off and on at Greyhound for the last couple of years, and while "Greyhound is exploring ways we can address the issue," that due to the large amount of charge backs, the company just isn't comfortable with that. Andy also admitted that the fee is a convenience fee as well.

In addition, according to Andy, the company is looking at ways to invest in the technology to better "sniff out" fraudulent purchases, however, from an operational standpoint, Greyhound has chosen to first invest in new buses, and investing in customer service training. (Note - Andy was very clear in saying that Greyhound needs to improve  in customer service - he compared it to turning a freighter in the ocean).

I made a couple of suggestions to Andy for some "short -term fixes" which would help with the chargebacks:

1. When someone purchases a "gift ticket" - have an additional screen stating that gift tickets are nonrefundable if the person does not show up, etc. with a check box stating that the user agrees to these terms and conditions, etc. This would provide Greyhound with evidence that the purchaser knew that the ticker was a non-refundable ticket, etc.

2. On fraud, I asked Andy if Greyhound would consider charging the gift ticket fee for bus ticket purchases made within 14 days of travel. In other words, 3rd party tickets purchased more than 14 days out would not be subject to the fee. This should reduce fraud exposure to Greyhound.

Andy wanted to express his appreciation for the feedback and response to the 8,000+ plus people who have signed the petition. It was a great conversation.

So...where do we go from here?

I let Andy know that I was going to continue the petition drive. IMHO, I gave Greyhound some steps to begin eliminating this fee. By singing the petition, you can send a clear message that you want Greyhound to implement the steps I just recommended, and to invest in the technology needed to reduce fraudulent purchases for bus tickets.

Thanks to all of you for signing! We are making a difference. Please sign, share, and post a link to the petition on your Facebook or Twitter Walls. You are all awesome!

Best,

Shawn

http://www.change.org/petitions/greyhound-eliminate-the-18-gift-ticket-fee

Thursday, January 5, 2012

E-mail from Greyhound's CFO

Tonight I received an e-mail from Andy Kaplinsky, Greyhound's CFO. Andy wants to talk to me next week about the Gift Ticket Fee.

I'm excited. I anticipate a robust and professional conversation. It would help the petition cause if we had hundreds of people sign the petition over the weekend.

Thank you for your support - I am amazed at we had over 8200 people sign this. You are all awesome; lets all push this petition hard over the next few days. This weekend could make or break the cause to end the $18 Gift Ticket Fee!

Shawn

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Greyhound Has Blocked Me From Their Twitter Site.

Well, that didn't take long...

Greyhound has blocked me from their Twitter wall. Wonder what upset them:

a. My post indicating that it has been 44 days since Dave Leach, Greyhound CEO, has received my letter asking to end the "Gift Ticket Fee" and I'm still waiting for a response.

b. My reply to a Twitter Post saying that Megabus wasn't an option in Fort Wayne, IN.

So add Greyhound's Twitter Wall to the banned list (I'm already banned from posting on Greyhound's Facebook Wall).

My questions to Greyhound are:

1. Do you think I'm going to go away because I can't post on your social media walls?

2. Is it too much to ask for a response to a letter I mailed over six weeks ago?

3. In your response to Patrick Svitek's article in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette on 12/24, Tim Stokes said that the Gift Ticket Fee is being evaluated. What is the progress of the evaluation?

As of 5 p.m. January 4, 2012, over 8200 people have signed the petition to end the Gift Ticket Fee. Maybe, just maybe, your company ought to respond - rather than banning me from your social media, or by replies such as:

" (Name of poster) the petition has been sent to the appropriate executives. We cannot manage these types of requests via Facebook. Continual posting of this message is a violation of our Communications Disclosure (http://www.facebook.com/GreyhoundBus?sk=app_6009294086) and may be deleted. Thank you."

After all, it's been 45 days since Greyhound received my letter, 13 days since the Petition Delivery in Fort Wayne, IN, and senior management has not returned my phone calls. This leads to  my second point...

It seems to me that Greyhound has a corporate culture issue.  An indifference to the customer is, IMHO, is part of the accepted norm at Greyhound. Here's my evidence:


1. See how Greyhound has handled my petition. The petition is almost 3 months old and Greyhound received a letter from me 45 days ago...no response.


2. Go to Greyhound's Facebook or Twitter Walls. When customers post on Facebook or Twitter, it's usually because they have tried the normal routes to have their issue resolved, and it didn't work.Almost always, the response has been, (even if the poster has said "I have tried calling for weeks, and I haven't received a response"...), call this number or fill out this form. 


3. On Tuesday night, I drove my daughter to Indianapolis for her return to college for Spring Semester. We arrived at the terminal around 6 p.m. for her 7:30 p.m. scheduled departure. Her bus didn't leave until 8:30 p.m. Was there any type of announcement made in the terminal about the late departure? No. In fact, in speaking to people lined up at the departure door, the late departure and lack of communication were seemed as "normal." I know when I fly and my plane is leaving late, there is always an announcement and posting to that effect.


Corporate cultures are shaped by leadership. If senior management portrays by their actions that they are indifferent to customer concerns, so will the employees. When  Greyhound employes do not address a customer concern, IMHO, they are taking their cues from senior management.


OK Greyhound. It's 45 days, 8,230 signatures, two petition deliveries, banishment from your Facebook and Twitter Walls, and several phone calls. When will I receive a response?

I'm sending a link to this blog to Dave Leach on Thursday - we'll see if there is a response.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Remarks made at Press Conference at Fort Wayne, IN Greyhound Station - 12/23/2011

Greyhound Petition Delivery Comments
Delivered at Greyhound Station, Fort Wayne, IN
December 23, 2011

Good morning. My name is Shawn Ambrose and I am an Assistant Professor of Business Administration in the Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership at the University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, IN. The views expressed here are strictly my own, and do not represent an official policy or opinion of the University of Saint Francis. However, under the guidelines and privileges of academic freedom, I believe that in addition to my expertise, that as a faculty member at a Franciscan University, I have a moral duty to speak out on a business practice that I believe is unfair.

On October 7th, I initiated an online petition campaign through Change.org, asking Greyhound Lines, Inc. to discontinue the practice of charging an $18 fee for third party e-purchase transactions (aka “Gift Ticket Fee”). I am pleased to report that as of 7:00 a.m., 8,007 people have signed the petition, including 29 from the Fort Wayne area, and 142 from the state of Indiana.

All of these people agree with my opinion, the Greyhound Gift Ticket Fee exploits those who are trying to assist a person in need, or to pay the fare for a friend and/or family member to travel.

Consider the following facts about Greyhound:

·         The average ticket price is $48
·         The majority of Greyhound passengers travel to visit family and friends
·         Nearly 60 percent of Greyhound passengers travel less than 450 miles.
·         Two-thirds of Greyhound passengers earn less than $35,000 annually.

Based on these data, it is clear that Greyhound targets lower-income customers, based on the fare structure and the preponderance of lower income customers. Given these data, the Gift Ticket Fee, on average, is a 37.5% markup. In addition, for short-haul schedules, the Gift Ticket Fee can exceed the cost of the ticket.

In addition, the Gift Ticket Fee is a hardship for many families. David Henderson, an advocate for the poor, decided he would purchase a bus ticket to help someone move to another city to get a start on a better life. David’s words speak to the unjustness of the Gift Ticket Fee:

I have always known that being poor is expensive. When I was providing direct services to low-income individuals and families it seemed they would get caught in an endless web of miserable ticky-tacky corporate fees and fines. But my experience with Grey Hound (sic) was the first time I have been directly impacted by a corporate culture that kicks the crap out of poor people, knowing they have no voice with which to complain.

In addition, Greyhound needs to consider that many non-profits, with limited funds, use Greyhound’s transportation services to assist with people who are trying to better their lives, or in some cases, to escape physical injury. Laura Stockwell, who works for a small non-profit domestic violence agency in North Carolina, wrote:

One of my clients needed assistance with traveling out of state to flee from her abuser. Thanks to Greyhound’s exorbitant fee, our agency will have to dish out even more money to ensure that our client can get to safety.

Many other accounts of the impact of the Gift Ticket Fee can be read at the petition site at Change.org.

Greyhound representatives have stated the Gift Ticket Fee covers the expenses for handling charges and is an anti-fraud measure. Based on job analysis and statistics from the credit card industry, it is clear that neither of the two reasons stands up to scrutiny.

The Gift Ticket Fee applies to all third party e-transactions, whether the ticket is mailed to the intended user or picked up at the terminal. For a ticket which is being mailed to the intended user, there is no additional work required for the processing of the ticket, since the ticket purchaser is entering all of the information at the Greyhound website. The ticket is printed and mailed. There are no additional steps needed by Greyhound employees.

When a ticket is purchased for pick-up at the Greyhound terminal, I believe that, while an employee must perform steps to process the transaction, that the steps are significantly reduced for a Gift Ticket which is picked up at the terminal rather than having the buyer make the trip to the terminal. In my November 21 letter to Dave Leach, CEO of Greyhound, I constructed a job analysis. It is apparent there are more steps needed to process a “Gift Ticket Fee” in the terminal than electronically. Besides the inconvenience of having a purchaser drive to a Greyhound terminal to purchase a Gift Ticket, more labor is needed to process the transaction, which increases the labor cost. My letter to Mr. Leach is available at my blog, which can be accessed through the petition website. For the record, Mr. Leach and Greyhound have not responded to my letter.

Greyhound representatives  have also stated that the Gift Ticket Fee is an anti-fraud measure. With an average ticket cost of $48 and a Gift Ticket Fee of $18, the average ticket cost is covered by 2.67 Gift Ticket Fees. In other words, one out of every 2.67 Gift Ticket Sales are fraudulent. This defies logical explanation.

In an interview with the Toronto Star concerning the Gift Ticket Fee, Visa Canada stated that it was unaware of higher fraud rates in the bus industry. When one considers that in 2010, online fraud losses were less than one percent of revenue, to infer that Gift Ticket Fee online fraud rates are 33% strains credibility.

The Greyhound Gift Ticket Fee is a poor business practice. In my research, I have not found any business that charges a 37.5% markup for the privilege of conducting a third party transaction, including competitors such as MegaBus and Amtrak.

I urge Greyhound to eliminate the Gift Ticket Fee immediately.  The Gift Ticket Fee is unfair to Greyhound customers, not cost effective for Greyhound, and is not duplicated by your peers. I look forward to the courtesy of a personal response from a member of Greyhound’s senior management.

I wish to extend my sincere thanks to the over 8,000 people who have signed the petition. In addition, special thanks to Tim Neumann at Change.org for his advice, encouragement, and petition acumen. Finally, I wish to thank the many media outlets who have covered this petition, and for your coverage of the petition delivery. The petition delivery does not mean that this effort is over; rather, the delivery celebrates a significant milestone in this effort. At this time, I’ll be happy to answer your questions.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Letter to Dave Leach - Greyhound President and CEO

On November 19, 2011, I mailed a letter to Dave Leach, President and CEO of Greyhound Bus Lines. The text of the letter is listed below:

Mr. Dave Leach
President and Chief Executive Officer
Greyhound Lines, Inc.
P.O. Box 660362
Dallas, TX 75266-0362

November 19, 2011

RE: Change.org Petition to End the $18 Gift Ticket Fee


Mr. Leach:

My name is Shawn Ambrose and I am an Assistant Professor of Business Administration in the Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership at the University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, IN. The views in this letter are strictly my own, and do not represent an official policy or opinion of the University of Saint Francis. However, under the guidelines and privileges of academic freedom, I believe that in addition to my expertise, that as a faculty member at a Franciscan University, that I have a moral duty to speak out on a business practice that I believe is unfair.

On October 7, 2011, I initiated an online petition campaign asking Greyhound Lines, Inc. to discontinue the practice of charging an $18 fee for third party e-purchase transactions (aka “Gift Ticket Fee). As of the writing of this letter, almost 7,000 people have signed the petition. In my opinion, the Gift Ticket Fee exploits those who are trying to assist a person in need, or to pay the fare for a friend and/or family member to travel. Second, the explanations that the fee is a handling fee and/or anti-fraud measure are not persuasive when critically examined. Lastly, I will state why I believe the Gift Ticket Fee is a poor business practice, and give my recommendations for eliminating the fee.

The Gift Ticket Fee is Exploitive

As of December 4, 2010, the following demographic information was available on your website:

• The average ticket price was $48
• The majority of Greyhound passengers travel to visit family and friends
• Nearly 60 percent of Greyhound passengers travel less than 450 miles.
• Two-thirds of Greyhound passengers earn less than $35,000 annually (Greyhound Lines, 2010)


Based on these data, it is clear that Greyhound targets lower-income customers, based on the fare structure and the preponderance of lower income customers. Given these data, the Gift Ticket Fee, on average, is a 37.5% markup. In addition, for a popular short-haul schedule, the Gift Ticket Fee can exceed the cost of the ticket.

Besides the financial data, the Gift Ticket Fee is a hardship for many families. David Henderson, an advocate for the poor, decided he would purchase a bus ticket to help someone move to another city to get a start on a better life. David’s words speak to the unjustness of the Gift Ticket Fee:

I have always known that being poor is expensive. When I was providing direct services to low-income individuals and families it seemed they would get caught in an endless web of miserable ticky-tacky corporate fees and fines. But my experience with Grey Hound (sic) was the first time I have been directly impacted by a corporate culture that kicks the crap out of poor people, knowing they have no voice with which to complain (Henderson, 2011).

In addition to David Henderson’s account, I encourage you to read the numerous comments about the hardship the Gift Ticket Fee has created for your customers.

The Gift Ticket Fee Does Not Stand Up To Scrutiny

Your company representatives have stated the Gift Ticket Fee covers the expenses for handling charges and is an anti-fraud measure (Swain, 2011). Based on job analysis and statistics from the credit card industry, it is clear that neither of the two reasons stands up to scrutiny.

The Gift Ticket Fee applies to all third party e-transactions, whether the ticket is mailed to the intended user or picked up at the terminal. For a ticket which is being mailed to the intended user, there is no additional work required for the processing of the ticket, since the ticket purchaser is entering all of the information at the Greyhound web site. The ticket is printed and mailed. There are no additional steps needed by Greyhound employees.

When a ticket is purchased for pick-up at the Greyhound terminal, I believe that, while an employee must perform steps to process the transaction, that the steps are significantly reduced for a Gift Ticket which is picked up at the terminal rather than having the buyer make the trip to the terminal. I have listed the steps listed for each transaction in the table on the next page.


Greyhound Employee Steps
Terminal Gift Ticket Transaction (Buyer travels to terminal for purchase)
Electronic Gift Ticket Transaction (Buyer purchases online)
1
Greet customer
Greet customer
2
Enters desired bus schedule
Verifies travelers ID and unique password for trip
3
Enters purchaser personal information
Prints ticket and baggage claim information
4
Enters traveler personal information
Directs passenger to gate – End transaction
5
Verify purchaser

6
Processes payment – End transaction

7
Greet customer

8
Verifies travelers ID and unique password for trip

9
Prints ticket and baggage claim information

10
Directs passenger to gate – End transaction



It is apparent there are more steps needed to process a “Gift Ticket Fee” in the terminal than electronically. Besides the inconvenience of having a purchaser drive to a Greyhound terminal to purchase a Gift Ticket, more labor is needed to process the transaction, which increases the labor cost.

Your representatives have also stated that the Gift Ticket Fee is an anti-fraud measure. With an average ticket cost of $48 and a Gift Ticket Fee of $18, the average ticket cost is covered by 2.67 Gift Ticket Fees. In other words, one out of every 2.67 Gift Ticket Sales are fraudulent. This defies logical explanation.

In an interview with the Toronto Star concerning the Gift Ticket Fee, Visa Canada stated that it was unaware of higher fraud rates in the bus industry ( Flavelle, 2011). When one considers that in 2010, online fraud losses were 0.9% (Digital Transactions, 2011), to infer that Gift Ticket Fee online fraud rates are 33% strains credibility.

A Call to Eliminate the Gift Ticket Fee

The Greyhound Gift Ticket Fee is a poor business practice. In my research, I have not found any business that charges a 37.5% markup for the privilege of conducting a third party transaction, including your competitors (MegaBus, Amtrak, etc.). As more people sign the petition and spread word of the petition through social media and other means, I anticipate the mainstream media will continue to cover the petition story. Media which have already covered the petition story include the Fort Wayne, IN Journal-Gazette, Cambridge Day, BusRide.com, and others. Your competitors will surely take notice – and as we move into the Christmas season, your competitors could use the “Gift Ticket Fee” against you.

I urge Greyhound to eliminate the Gift Ticket Fee immediately. The Gift Ticket Fee is unfair to Greyhound customers, not cost effective for Greyhound, and is not duplicated by your peers. I look forward to the courtesy of a personal response.



Best,



Shawn Ambrose, Ph.D.



Enc.: Change.org petition as of 11:45 a.m. November 19, 2011
Change.org petition comments as of 12:15 p.m. November 19, 2011
Screenshot Gift Ticket Fee transaction from Philadelphia, PA to New York, NY
Screenshot Gift Ticket Fee transaction from Philadelphia, PA to Pittsburgh, PA

C: Tim Newman, Change.org
Greyhound: Eliminate the $18 Gift Ticket Fee website

Works Cited

Flavelle, D. (2011, October 27). Greyhound fee angers customers. Retrieved from Moneyville: http://www.moneyville.ca/article/1075834--greyhound-fee-angers-customers

Digital Transactions. (2011, January 18). Online Fraud Rate Drops, But ‘Cleaner’ Fraud Poses a Bigger Threat. Retrieved from http://digitaltransactions.net/news/story/2878

Greyhound Lines. (2010, December 4). Greyhound Facts and Figures. Retrieved November 19, 2011, from http://web.archive.org/web/20101204033120/http://www.greyhound.com/en/about/factsandfigures.aspx

Henderson, D. (2011, February 22). Grey Hound Bus Wins War on Generosity. Retrieved from Poverty Insights: http://www.povertyinsights.org/2011/02/22/grey-hound-bus-wins-war-on-generosity/

Swain, G. (2011, November 7). Greyhound customers bark at $18 gift ticket surcharge. Retrieved from BusRide.com: http://busride.com/2011/11/greyhound-customers-bark-over-18-gift-ticket-surcharge/

Sunday, November 20, 2011

First Posting

Well, I now have a blog. I plan to post things from time to time - some business...some professional.

Right now, I am involved in a petition campaign to end the "Gift Ticket Fee" that Greyhound Bus charges. If you'd like to learn more about the petition, please go to:

http://www.change.org/petitions/greyhound-eliminate-the-18-gift-ticket-fee

Thanks so much!

Shawn