This is a partial trip log which covers my journey on Greyhound Canada from Banff, Alberta to Edmonton, Alberta via Calgary on 4 July 2004. As the title says, Greyhound lost the backpack that I had checked. This was a painful experience because I had to cancel part of my trip, go for several days on one set of clothes and buy replacement toiletries.
Up early, my companions drive back to the States and drop me off at the bus stop in town. I decide to go to Edmonton, rent a car there, drive to Jasper, hike for a couple of days and then return to Edmonton for the flight home. I wait an hour for the first leg of the bus trip to Calgary. I put my backpack in the bottom of the bus and board. After 90 minutes, the bus arrives and I recover my backpack. I wait another hour and the bus for Edmonton is ready to board.
After receiving instructions about which bus to board, I enter the garage and am immediately challenged by a Greyhound employee. He asks "Where are you going?" as if none of us belong there. I say "Edmonton. We were told to board that bus on the end." He says "No, not that bus." and then points out a bus on the other end of the row. I put my bag in the bottom of that bus and, as I am ready to board, the guy who challenged us comes up again and says "You were right about the bus. And don't put your bag in the bus." I guess there is some regulation against passengers doing that for themselves. I say "OK", pick up my bag, put it beside the other bus and board.
Looking out the window at the pile of bags beside the bus, I notice my bag is the only one without a yellow tag on it. Feeling a sense of doom, I go out and ask the driver about this. He says that I should have a yellow tag on my bag and suggests bringing it on board. I ask if there is enough time to get a tag and put it on my bag. He says "yes." I go out, get the tag and the driver lets me back in. I write my name on the tag and put it on my backpack. The bus is about to leave, so I don't fill out any more of the tag.
The pile of bags is loaded a minute later and the bus soon leaves. There is a short stop in Red Deer and the bus arrives in Edmonton 3 hours later. When I get off, I am alarmed to see my bag is missing.
The bus driver helps a little, but soon shrugs his shoulder and walks off. I go to the customer service counter. The first person I talk to there seems to think that I loaded the bag myself and is stuck on that. I reassure her that is not the case, but only her coworker listens and rescues me. The lady leaves and the guy who interceded takes over. He suggests looking on the other side of the bus. No dice. I start to fill out a lost baggage form, but he says that the bag may be on another bus from Calgary which arrives in 15 minutes. I agree to wait, but it turns out this bus does not have my bag either. The customer service representative takes down my information on the lost baggage form.
I reserve a hotel room nearby and tell them to contact me there if the bag turns up.
Reading between the lines of what happened at the bus terminal in Calgary, Greyhound has some security issues. There is no doubt that the employee who challenged my presence in the bus garage was rude. It is in doubt whether it was a case of a rogue employee who carries a grudge or people who don't belong in the garage regularly make appearances there and need to be chased off.
After the fact, I found out that one item on the tag that I should have filled out was the destination. It makes sense because then the bag will still go to the right place if the baggage compartment is full and they need to put it on another bus. That should be a rare occurrence and the worst that should happen is the bag stays at the original bus station. My failure to fill out the destination line does not explain why my bag went missing for an indefinite period of time. Unfortunately, the advice to "watch your bags on Greyhound" appears to be absolutely correct.
11 August 2004: Greyhound Customer Service just called, said they have found my bag and should have it shipped here within a week. It remains to be seen whether all of my belongings are still in the bag. Nonetheless, I am encouraged since the bag itself is quite valuable and I would not want to have to replace it.
12 August 2004: I received my lost bag. Greyhound shipped it via DHL. I could see that the bag had been unpacked and repacked, since things were in different places than I remember putting them. At least, nothing valuable was missing. That should be the end of the story except that it is not. They shipped me a second bag which does not belong to me. Apparently, it belongs to a French-speaking woman. I will have to ship that one back to Greyhound, hoping that the rightful owner will claim it.
18 August 2004: Dealing with Greyhound Customer Service is frustrating. They keep referring me to some security company who they say runs the unclaimed property warehouse. I have left messages for them 3 times and not gotten a responce. Finally, I find a Customer Service representative who listens and is willing to escalate the problem to a supervisor.
20 August 2004: A week later, a security company representative finally calls, says that there are difficulties with shipping a package internationally with reverse charges and says that he will call again next week once they figure out how to do this.
31 August 2004: I have finally received authorisation from Greyhound to have an air freight company pick up the wayward bag and send it back to them. One hurdle I stumbled over was that the air freight company wanted a detailed listing of the items in the bag and valuations for each item. This bag does not belong to me and I was reluctant to tear it apart and attempt to fill out such a list. I finally noticed that Greyhound already made such a list when they sent the bag here, so I decided to simply use that. This also would account for why my own bag seemed to be unpacked and repacked; Greyhound had to do this to make the item listing the air freight company demanded in order to send the bag.
12 May 2005: This feedback apparently from a Greyhound Canada employee came in and, on the chance it is real, it is below. To give a preliminary flavour of it, the subject is "idiot".
What the hell do you think is going to happen to your bag if there is no destination tag? You may know where you going but i can assure you, your bag does not. and also the only edmonton buses that leave the terminal are stationed at lane 8 (in the middle of the garage) and always have. yes greyhound customer service sucks and are nearly worthless but like u said "WATCH YOUR LUGGAGE" but more importantly "TAG YOUR LUGGAGE". writing EDMONTON or even EDM would have prevented that entire ordeal. also think about it... when over 1000 bags a day come through the station do you think we have time to worry about your bag?? i think thats up to you.
My responce to this follows. First, there is no doubt that I should have read the paragraph written at the ticket counter and fully filled out a baggage tag. My initial expectation was that is it up to me to retrieve my bag at the destination. Now that I know the proper procedure, what I think should have happened to my bag was that it should have been held at the original Greyhound station. Since I did put my name on the tag, my baggage should have been readily retrieved when I brought it to Greyhound Canada's attention that it was missing. If that happened instead of the farce I was lead through, I would have no cause to complain.
The attitude shown by the "Greyhound Canada employee" above does not reflect well on Greyhound Canada. It seems to assume that one has no other choice for travel and therefore we should just accept hostile attitudes and poor service as a condition of travel. My suggestion to Greyhound Canada is that ticket agents should ask passengers if they plan to check any baggage and, if so, point out the requirements for checked baggage. Greyhound Canada employees should be more customer service oriented. If they choose not to take this suggestion, then they will only have customers who have no other choice and their ridership levels will remain stagnant.