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

4 comments:

  1. Whenever I've ridden Greyhound (and I used to ride them 8x a month to get to jobs), if I didn't use a ticket, it was either non-refundable but good for use on the same route anytime in the next year, changeable to another route with a $15 fee, or refundable with a cancellation penalty. It makes no sense to penalize everyone during a purchase because some people cancel their gift tickets, especially with a computerized ticket system. They could just extend the same restrictions they already place on other ticket purchases that aren't used/cancelled.

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  2. Shawn,

    As a signer of your petition, I am very glad to see that the petition has gotten Greyhound's attention. I am also glad to see that Mr. Kaplinsky was willing to take the time to speak with you and to listen to your concerns. Your ideas that you presented to him, in my opinion, were very good options to be considered for frequent travelers, and I hope that he takes them back to Greyhound for their consideration.

    In the meantime, I will continue to lend my voice to continue support for your petition. I wish you the best of luck in pursuing this cause, and I hope that Greyhound will ultimately see the value of treating their frequent and valued travelers with the respect they deserve by eliminating the fee. As you suggested, their methods should be targeted toward eliminating the fraudulent transactions and not penalizing the customers that keep their buses traveling.

    Best wishes,

    Brian Cowell

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  4. I believe that they have enough regulation in place. For instance, when you purchase a ticket you have the choose of purchasing ones that are non refundable or ones that are refundable which cost more. There adminstrative fee is included when you purchase refundable ticket. I believe that Greyhound need to be more like Megabus. I purchase tickets for my son online and he has to have the registration no. when entering the bus.

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