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A Cautionary Tale From The Forum Section “Chinatown Hell Bus: Eastern Travel”

by Prince Of Petworth October 16, 2008 at 11:00 am 17 Comments

From Park Road Guy:

Traveling with this corrupt company of thugs was a complete nightmare last weekend. By 9:00 pm Sunday, the New York Police Department arrived on the scene to attempt to negotiate a solution between Eastern Travel’s frantic, angry and confused driver and a group of even more frantic, angry and confused passengers who had been left stranded on the streets of New York with no ride as multiple Eastern Travel busses dropped off passengers and refused to pick them up. Fraud of the worst variety. Here’s footage:

I was one of the passengers and, once again, I had been severely burned by Eastern Travel and its corrupt and unprofessional ways. I don’t know of a single company that gets away with as much abuse of its customers as Eastern Travel. I implore anyone looking to travel on a budget to NYC to do their best to avoid using Eastern Travel. They have absolutely NO respect for their customers. It’s hard to even address their ethical standards, since they don’t have any. Where to even start?

To begin, my girlfriend and I decided to risk another round trip from DC to NYC with Eastern Travel even though we had been left stranded for hours waiting for our return bus at Penn Station a year ago. We needed to make it to NYC on a Friday morning by noon and Eastern Travel is the only option. This first episode included a bizarre shouting match between a passenger who had threatened to ‘get her knife out’ and one of Eastern Travel’s linguistically challenged ‘agents’ who was screaming at everything in sight. I could not believe the lack of professionalism in a travel company. It was hard to believe a business like this could survive, but then, let’s face it, Eastern Travel is an unbelievably cheap option. We decided to chance it once more to save a few bucks and get to NYC on time (I’ve since decided the marginal difference is worth it for a company that actually has a semblance of customer service. Story continues after the jump.

The NYPD vs Eastern Travel fiasco began after our weekend in New York. Our Friday morning trip from DC to NYC went off without a hitch, as usual. But when we headed to Penn Station for our 7:30 return trip the following Sunday, I began to get a bit uneasy about the situation. Everything is a bit anarchistic at the bus stop. People stand around not knowing exactly where to line up, or even if there is a line, or who’s in line and there is not a single Eastern Travel rep there to explain the process. Everyone just relies on one another to make sense out of the situation.

We arrived, reservations in hand at 7:10 pm. Eastern Travel’s reservations state that you must arrive 20 minutes beforehand or you will forfeit your place as WELL as your money. The irony of this policy became increasingly blatant around 9:00 pm, as were were still waiting for our 7:30 bus. As those around us became increasingly angry and impatient, people tried repeatedly to contact Eastern Travel’s office. No one was picking up and we were left agitated and confused about whether we were even going to make it back to DC that evening. It had been nearly two hours since we arrived and I was growing tired and increasingly pissed off.

Finally, around 9:00, an Eastern Travel bus arrives and the driver hops out to let out a group of passengers who had just arrived from DC. We, and our impatient fellow passengers begin crowding around the door hoping to grab a seat. The driver, in broken English, explains that he’s not making a return trip down to Washington and that there are no more buses that evening. Unbelievable! Unbelievable! . After two hours and we get this treatment! Hell no! People around us start to yell at the driver and demand that he contact Eastern Travels office. He makes a few failed attempts to contact them but can’t seem to get through. Wow, is that even possible? What kind of customer service IS that? Is that for effing real? You actually do that Eastern Travel? Infuriated, people start climbing into the bus and take their seats. “I don’t care where they take me, but they’re going to be taking me somewhere tonight” yelled one guy.

Around then, about six New York Police officers show up. Surrounded by the angry customers and trying their best to negotiate a solution, the police propose that the driver take all of those waiting back to DC. Unfortunately, the driver has to be up at 4:00 am to make a trip from NYC down to DC. It seems there’s no solution. Another Eastern Travel bus shows up and the police ask the new driver if he’s making a trip down to DC. Nope. It’s hopeless. The police make a few proposals, including having the Eastern Travel driver take everyone down to Chinatown in New York but he refuses.

At this point, the group of forty that had been standing at the stop has dwindled down to 15 or so and people realize that there’s nothing they can do.

To our great fortune, a Bolt Bus is waiting nearby waiting to rescue us. Relieved, I make a mad dash to an ATM to get cash and board the decked out Bolt Bus. I’m writing this review using the Bolt Bus wifi. I will NEVER take Eastern Travel again!!!

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