Sunday, September 18, 2016

Get Compensated for Bus Delays-- Fight for Your Rights!

My journey from Cologne to Rothenburg with Flixbus did not go as planned. We arrived at the Leverkusen Mitte station 15 minutes before the departure time but after 30 minutes waiting in the rain, I knew that I would be dealing with another bus delay.

Out of 26 bus journeys within 2 months, I've come face to face with 4 separate incidences of bus delays. Yes, only 4. Twice with Flixbus (1 hour and 2 hours 6 minutes), once with Megabus (30 minutes) and once with Deinbus (15 minutes). Normally, I keep my cool when my buses were delayed for an hour, but if it's more than an hour, I'll file a complaint. Hence, when we were left waiting at the tiny bus stop in Cologne in the middle of the night without prior notice, I wasn't going to swallow that. Note that normally Flixbus never fail to inform customers about delays, but somehow, my travel partner and I did not get any notice. 

We tried to get more information about our bus from other Flixbus drivers, but we were out of luck as the bus drivers working that night do not speak English (or they refused to speak? We'll never know.)

First, I emailed the Flixbus administration with a casual opening (I hate being too formal):  "I hope this email finds you well, however, I hope you are aware that your bus N61 is missing in action tonight."

I've heard good things about Flixbus but unfortunately, their performance that evening was not up to standard. Not only that the bus was late for 2 hours and 6 minutes, we were treated rudely by the bus co-driver. According to my bus tickets, we had to change bus at Würzburg central train station but judging by the delay, I knew that we wouldn't be able to make it. Thus, we wouldn't be able to arrive at our destination. 

When the bus finally arrived, I asked the drivers for advice. The co-driver wasn't helpful at all for all he could tell me about our bus was "there is nothing I can do". He repeated this sentence several times before I could even finish asking a god-damn question. I rolled my eyes and talked to the driver instead, he suggested me to call the 24/7 service center. (Well at least, a potential solution!) 

Unfortunately, I couldn't reach the Call Center with my Russian number. I looked it up on the Flixbus website again and it is stated that it is best reached on a German line. I had no other choice but to go to the co-driver for help. The only thing I wanted to do, was to borrow a phone and he refused. I politely explained that it was an emergency (which he knew it from the start) but he started to raise his voice. I was on the brink of explosion/fury but I was able to control myself.  

I returned to my seat, got my phone connected to the suckish internet on the bus. I sent another email asking for an explanation for the rude demeanor I encountered on the bus, as well as compensation and a solution for the going-to-be-missed connection. When the internet connection became more stable, I quickly called the service center using my Skype credit. The things that I really hated about this experience was the number-pressing process and the Flixbus theme song. The girl at the end of the phone call reassured us several times that the connection bus would be waiting for us at the station... except that it was not the case! When we finally arrived at the station, the bus was long gone. We went to a nearby McDonald for help and the manager was so kind, he helped us to deal with the customer service in German (much easier!) and served us each a cup of hot tea. The process wasn't easy at all. He talked on the phone for nearly 30 minutes after listening to the Flixbus theme song for 30 minutes (That is why I hated it!). When he finally put down the phone, he told us the great news: Flixbus was ready to compensate us by paying for our train tickets to Boblingen. Perfect! The kind man did not stop helping us, he got to the ticket machine and printed out our train tickets before sending us on our way.       

Again, we got out of trouble thanks to the kind strangers we met on the road. We also decided to visit Tübingen instead of stopping at Boblingen, after talking to a german lady we met on the train. I am glad we did. 

Tübingen, Southern Germany
Our destination: Tübingen in Southern Germany. 

On the next morning, I woke up to an apologetic email from Flixbus. I was glad to know that they took that matter seriously. Based on my experience with Flixbus service center, although it is not my favorite bus company in Europe, I'll not think twice in booking another Flixbus journey. They respect their customers' rights, and I really appreciate that.  
Flixbus is quite responsive on Facebook. 

The moral of the story? 

1. Fight for your rights when your bus gets delayed. We deserve at least an explanation.   
2. Don't be afraid to ask for help from the locals. Maybe out of 10 people, 9 will turn you down, but it only takes 1 kind soul to get you out of trouble (or even danger!) A 10% probability is good enough for me. 
3. English is the international language, yes, but in certain parts of the world, speaking only English can be a frustrating experience. That was how I got the motivation to pick up new languages

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Thank You for Reading! This post is based solely on my personal experience.
Feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below!

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