Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The crazy (or crazy-offensive) Greyhound bus “gift ticket fee” Cambridge Day wrote about back in July 2010 has spawned a movement.

Hundreds of people have joined a campaign on Change.org calling on Greyhound to eliminate the $18 fee for buying online bus tickets for friends and family, according to Change.org senior organizer Tim Newman.

Shawn Ambrose, a father, veteran and an assistant professor of business at The University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Ind., launched the campaign on Change.org after realizing he would be charged an extra fee to buy a bus ticket for his daughter to visit their home in Indiana during a break from college — and that the fee affects mainly those buying tickets for budget-conscious travelers trying to save money by taking the bus.

“This fee is a burden on those who are trying to help others,” Ambrose said. “Greyhound caters to a demographic hoping to save money on travel costs, and while I was able to avoid the fee by having my daughter purchase her tickets with her debit card, many people do not have this option.”

“Greyhound has the gift ticket fee because they can,” Ambrose continued. “While researching the gift ticket fee, I was unable to find any business that had such an onerous fee for a third party e-transaction.”

Greyhound told Ambrose that the fee was an anti-fraud measure, which the company also tried in 2010 before giving it up when finding it impossible to explain how it helped precent fraud. Also tried: “It is kind of a ticket processing fee for the time and expense involved in transferring the name,” according to Greyhound spokeswoman Bonnie Bastian, who was unable to explain what that meant or any role played by people in a Web-based credit card transaction resulting in a computer printing out a ticket at a Greyhound station ticket counter. Workers there would have to enter a name into a computer rather than a credit card number, but the additional time spent seems insignificant.

“I just wanted to call back and say it’s not a fraud fee,” Bastian said last year.

Sounds like someone needs to make a similar call to Ambrose and Change.org — not that it’ll help.

Critics note that other bus and transportation companies do not impose similar fees.

“Hundreds of consumers have joined Shawn in expressing their concern regarding Greyhound’s gift ticket fee,” Newman said. “With just a computer, Shawn has created a campaign that is attracting the attention of many other bus travelers, particularly as the holiday travel season hits. … Shawn’s campaign clearly resonates with other consumers across the country.”

Something the new campaign doesn’t notice: It is impossible to print tickets at home, on a printer attached to a personal computer, unless the buyer of the tickets is traveling. There are many times a credit card holder may want to buy a Greyhound ticket for someone in their own household who will be traveling to another destination — but they will find it impossible to buy that single ticket, print it and hand it to the person traveling.

This post took significant amounts of material from a press release.