The bus ticket from Hell

The "beautiful" downtown Indianapolis bus/train terminal. Tip: It's like a sauna in there, even when it's not hot outside.

The “beautiful” downtown Indianapolis bus/train terminal. Tip: It’s like a sauna in there, even when it’s not hot outside.

Poor Caitlyn. It feels like she’s been more on the road more this summer than in any one spot. We knew this would happen with the first season of The Frankfort House, but it’s still been a little tiring travelling 7-8 hours between Indy and Frankfort several times a week.

That’s why, in an effort to preserve our marriage, I recently agreed to take a bus from Indy to Holland, Mich., at which point, I would take the wheel for the next couple hours until we were at our final destination.

I’ve never taken a bus that far before, but I figured it can’t be much different than taking the city bus, right?

After ruling out Greyhound as a viable option (apparently, it takes more than 13 hours to get from Indy to northern Michigan), I turned my attention to Indian Trails, a popular charter service in the Midwest, especially in the Mitten State. There was one route that would get me from Indy to Holland for $51 one-way, with one transfer in Benton Harbor, Mich. and take only six hours and change.

Sold … or so I thought.

The bad boys that got me from Indy to Holland, Mich.

The bad boys that got me from Indy to Holland, Mich.

Just on a lark, I checked the Indian Trails website two days before my scheduled departure, only to find out “your itinerary has been changed. Please call Customer Service.” Puzzled, I called Customer Service to find out my non-refundable ticket had been cancelled. And that my new route was leaving six hours later … and now had two transfers … and that I was going to be charged an additional $18 for this inconvenience. Also, no one had sent me an email about this change; I found out by happy coincidence after checking the website.

“First things first,” I thought, “let’s get the rescheduled tickets.” Once that was done, I asked the customer service rep why I was being charged more, considering they were inconveniencing me. He told me “This isn’t something I have the power to change” and that was pretty much the end of our conversation. Lovely.

The train/bus terminal in Gary, Ind.

The train/bus terminal in Gary, Ind.

After fuming for a while, I launched a well-rounded phone, email and social media rampage going after Indian Trails and Miller Transportation, the latter of which is an affiliated bus company responsible for the first leg of my journey from Indy to Gary, Ind. I also contacted the ticket broker, Indian Trailways, which is a completely different entity, and voiced my concerns and how illogical it was to charge me more for completely messing up my travel plans and not even sending me an email alerting me to the change. As the customer service rep told me “Boy, you sure are lucky to have checked the website!” Lucky indeed.

Long story short, Miller Transportation and Indian Trailways both agreed to refund the extra amount I was charged for the rescheduled ticket, while Indian Trails said they couldn’t do anything because this was beyond their control. Note to Indian Trails: If your ticket broker has a name almost identical to yours, some customers might get confused and blame you for the error even if it wasn’t your fault, so maybe you should work on your communication with said broker.

Miller and Indian Trailways eventually stepped up and deserve kudos, but I wonder why the latter required a second call, considering it was the same man (the manager who told me price changes were beyond his power) I spoke to both times.

Next post: Recap of the actual bus ride.

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