Premium in 2015 is not premium anymore

“Bad service and bad experiences in 2015 shouldn’t be tolerated and here’s the worst part, I paid a premium price for it.” I wanted to travel to Johannesburg (JHB) from Cape Town (CPT) and having done the math, taking a coach was the best option. This is an 18 hour trip over 1 000km so the logical thing to do is get a premium luxury bus service to make the 18 hours whizz on by like nothing happened. Knowing that three-quarters of my day would be spent on the road, in a bus and unable to move whilst being entertained by a series of old movies (which ALWAYS include a Tyler Perry movie), I was willing to pay a premium price for a bus service that would hide all the pain I was about to go through. Oh little did I know premium in 2015 isn’t premium anymore.

I bought my ticket just hours before departure. I had to. Time was of the essence and I had to be in JHB as soon as possible. R775 was the cost of the ticket, I purchased it and I looked forward to my trip. For the record, I used their service roughly two months ago from JHB to CPT and there were times I didn’t want the trip to end. They had a really cute hostess and two hilarious drivers. Their service was top notch, the trip was so smooth I felt like I was at home and I enjoyed every minute of my experience. Then the Tyler Perry movie came on. I guess the crew had to show their human side. Those 18 hours were bliss and there was not a single rough patch throughout the journey. That trip was definitely one of the best experiences I ever had by any form of transportation.

Fast forward to this recent experience. My expectations were high, my excitement was on level infinity and I couldn’t wait to go through 18 hours with my favourite luxury bus service. A couple of hours before departure I received the following SMS:

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I brushed it aside assuming it was one of their luxury alternatives from the one I took a couple of months ago.

I checked in at Cape Town Station, walked towards the bus and my eyes lit up. I was ecstatic! As I was about to load my luggage the driver announced a time not similar to the one I had on my ticket. Puzzled by this, I asked him where is the bus that is departing at the time of my ticket? He pointed to the bus and I swear, my heart sank. But I sucked it up, then proceeded to load my bags into the bus and took my seat. My heart tore a whole into the floor. I travelled without a heart and if you are in Cape Town and find a heart lying around, please return it to me.

The bus was a has-been. It had its time in 2010 and I had no business being on this bus. I paid a premium price for a luxury bus service, not a trip back in time. The moment I sat down I immediately knew R775 was gone and I was right because it only got worse. We departed on time and the crew were good at what they do (of course they were, we paid for it). 15 minutes out of Cape Town’s CBD, the bus stalled! That’s right, the bus stalled at a traffic light and the engine cut. A disgruntled customer a few seats behind me said, “How much is it back to Cape Town? R30 cab and I will be back in town.” I couldn’t help but laugh. He was right. R30 back to the station to find another bus because this was not on. Eventually we got moving and it was time for the complimentary refreshments. Normally they serve coffee but today, they offered juice and a cookie. Puzzled by this I had to ask why they weren’t serving coffee today? “The boilers are not working today but we have juice.” In 15 minutes I was thrown into a time machine, the bus stalled and the boilers aren’t working. 17 hours and 45 minutes to go, what an absolute mess.

The trip went as it did. I cursed a lot, struggled to fall asleep because this was not what I paid for. The regular showing of a Tyler Perry movie happened whilst I sipped on my juice and ate my chocolate-chipped cookie. I was livid! At 03h45 we made a stop in a small town along the route and we had to wait. Apparently the crew had to switch onto another bus and that crew of the other bus had to hop onto our bus and take us to JHB. What the? What kind of protocol is this? A lot of confusion enveloped the passengers on the bus. We were collectively pissed! Then we received the following SMS:

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We were one hour behind schedule. I could not believe this mess! We had to wait for the bus from JHB to meet us at this point so that the crew could switch. And then it got funnier, that bus was late from JHB. We had to wait for 45 – 50 minutes for that bus to arrive. [LONG PAUSE] I paid a premium price for this. And then I saw this:

That is a cockroach spotted on the seat next to me.
That’s a cockroach spotted on the seat next to me.

That’s just the one I could get a photo of. There were more!

Without a shadow of doubt, this was by far the worst experience I have ever had from any company, product or service. It was horrible! I tried tweeting but I realised 140 characters aren’t enough. I stomached the entire experience and honestly, I shouldn’t have. I should have said something but I suffered in silence. In 2015, this shouldn’t be allowed AT ALL and the fact that I paid a premium price for this is ridiculous. I just hope this was an isolated incident.

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