Who charges a hefty surcharge — twice — when you buy a ticket for someone else?

Greyhound.

The travel marketplace is clearly diversifying: It’s not just airlines, hotels, and car rental agencies that are bilking customers with poorly-disclosed and poorly-justified fees. We can now add Greyhound bus lines to the list of offenders.

Longtime friend of the blog Dave H. writes in with a tale of bus tickets run amok with fees:

[My wife's mom] usually drives the 2 hours from Delaware to us but wanted to take a break this upcoming visit [...] so we bought her a ticket on Greyhound. 62 bucks roundtrip, Wilmington to Newark. (Amtrak was about double that.)

Clicked “purchase”, then *after the fact* learned about their $18 “gift service fee”. So talk about an online bait-and-switch! (Aren’t online retailers required to show a complete grand total before completing a transaction?) And then, only on reading the fine print in the receipt did she learn about another $15 “will call” charge if the traveler is not the purchaser. $33 in fees on a $62 ticket. Undisclosed until after purchase. And of course it’s a non-refundable fare. (And also in the fine print: seats are first-come, first-served, and if the bus is full they’ll just put you on the next bus, so there is *zero* incentive to buy ahead of time.)

Greyhound justifies the $18 charge by asking complaining customers — after putting you on interminable hold, of course — how much would it have cost to wire the money to the giftee? No justification offered for the $15 will-call fee. [...]

We, of course, have options: we’ll dispute the charge with our credit card issuer, who will either open a dispute or more likely simply eat the $80 to avoid the hassle of a dispute. But the target of this predatory business practice — people with no credit cards, i.e., the poor — are just getting milked.

To verify the process, I initiated a bus ticket purchase myself, for the same exact schedule as Dave’s purchase. While Dave is quite correct that the $18 “Gift Ticket Fee” is obnoxious, it is disclosed. Here’s a screenshot from the purchase page. See right below “Please Note”:

greyhound gift fee $33 in fees to buy a ticket for someone else?  Welcome aboard Greyhound!

Disclosure is okay, but come on: What justification is there for this fat surcharge? Fraud risk? I’ve paid for plane tickets for others, which cost a heck of a lot more than that. And the way the rule is written, a husband can’t buy a ticket for his wife without paying the surcharge. Ridiculous! Disclosed or not, the fee offends.

And the $15 will-call fee? Not disclosed prior to purchase. Clicking for details on the ticket delivery methods would — at a minimum — be a good last-ditch opportunity to mention such a surcharge. Nope. Here’s the in-window popup:

greyhound ticket delivery $33 in fees to buy a ticket for someone else?  Welcome aboard Greyhound!

It’s not just the lack of disclosure: It’s the size of these fees. $15 to pick up a prepaid ticket would make even Ticketmaster blush.

And whom are they hurting most here? Greyhound’s business model here is painfully apparent in the customer service agent’s justification of the gift ticket fee. Wiring money is the comp? If Greyhound is using Western Union wire fees as its reference point, then they might as well start offering payday loans, furniture rental, and an in-transit pawn shop.

So don’t reward bad behavior. Until Greyhound finds some pricing ethics, seek alternatives where they’re available. Chinatown buses, Megabus, Peter Pan… anything.

pixel $33 in fees to buy a ticket for someone else?  Welcome aboard Greyhound!
Categorized in: travel

11 Responses to “$33 in fees to buy a ticket for someone else? Welcome aboard Greyhound!”

  1. Dave H Says:

    Ahh, so they do disclose the gift fee. But they didn’t include it in the total amount due before you click “purchase”. So that is misleading. Thanks for posting!

  2. Andy Nash Says:

    I think it’s a good example of how businesses that serve lower income people (think check cashing) have lots of hidden fees to raise the price for their captive customers. Really sad comment on the business world and Greyhound.

  3. beltway Says:

    The “primary cardholder” requirement is another screw. It means that even if Spouse2 has an additional cardmember card with his/her name embossed on it — hence, a legal purchaser, and thus no “gift” involved — the fee applies. Appalling.

  4. Andy in NC Says:

    Is the identity of the passenger really enforced?!

  5. Brian Says:

    Reprehensible. They do offer some incentives to buy tickets ahead of time: http://www.greyhound.com/home/en/dealsanddiscounts/apfares.aspx

  6. Wade Says:

    Unbelievable. Sometimes I have no choice but to ride Greyhound. Megabus and particularly Boltbus are far superior in quality and service.

  7. A Tramp Abroad Says:

    Disgusting.

    On a related note, recently I booked car transport via BC Ferries and they change a $15 non-refundable booking fee and they don’t let you book return. So you need to do two transactions for a grand total of $30 CDN plus taxes in service fees.

    I guess that’s what happens when services are privatized.

  8. Elizabeth Says:

    I am looking into buses to Baltimore, MD and since I’m low on money to do amtrak, I’m looking into buses. I found the price to be in my budget and then I see this card holders fee and its appalling and what is even more worse is that it says 18 dollars but then it says a price of 28 dollars after the first last name there is price. WTF. I can’t afford it. Looking else where.

  9. Who Says:

    Can’t you just lie for the cardholder name.

  10. Rick Bryan Says:

    Well the bus driver is supposed to match the printed name on the ticket with the passenger’s identification before the rider boards the bus, so when completing the online ticket purchase you need to do so in a way which lets the credit card purchase go through the system, yet have the passenger’s name information match their identification. Many times the driver’s don’t bother to check, and even when they do, he’ll let the rider board the bus. But not always.

  11. mmm Says:

    Wow what a price difference…Mega Bus 14 bucks round trip from Dallas to Houston…Greyhound was 50 to 69 dollars.If you buy a ticket for someone else on Greyhound you get charged a fee almost 20 extra bucks… Mega Bus is the only way to go…I see my Grannie all the time now that i can afford to buy her a round trip pass- because of Mega Bus great rate plans:)

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