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Travel Experience with RedBus

Discussion in 'Travelogues' started by Saambat, Aug 31, 2016.


Did RedBus fail in their responsibility as a bus aggregator?

  1. Absolutely!

  2. No Way!

  3. To a large degree.

  4. To a small degree.

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. Saambat

    Saambat New Member

    I feel it’s important to share my recent experience with an Indian service called RedBus. I’ve traveled alone a lot, and some with my wife, through Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and most recently, India. I have, for better or worse, become aware that travel in this part of the world does not guarantee the same safety or comfort level that travel in other countries typically provides. However, the amount you pay usually scales with comfort and safety to a certain extent. This is not my experience with RedBus, and that is an understatement.

    The night I would like to talk about took place in New Delhi in mid-August. My tickets for New Delhi to Kullu provided a “Pick up Time” of 9:15 and a “Pickup Location” of ISBT Kashmere Gate. We can get there, no problem. My wife and I have our small bags packed, and we know it takes about an hour by train to get to the bus station, so we leave about 90 minutes before the time we need to show up for the bus. We eventually get to the station with 30 minutes to spare. Looking around, nothing is clear especially for non-Hindi speakers. That’s fine, we’re tourists to an extent, so we don’t expect everyone to cater to us. We get to the window of the Himachal bus company that we are supposed to be using, and they have no idea where our bus is. Hmmm, okay. So, now we’re sweating, and not just from the monsoon heat. We ask around, semi-frantically, because it’s coming up on departure time, and we are out of ideas. Someone who works at the station tells us that the pickup location is actually back through the metro, across a few streets, at the Ritz theatre. Thankfully we have sim cards for Delhi, so we pull the theatre on the map, and sprint there with full packs. No bus.

    We ask around. There are a few tourist agencies set up there, they all try to sell us bus tickets instead of telling us where our bus is, but one eventually tells us that the bus we are looking for hasn’t been stopping there for three days. Now we are pissed at RedBus: the company that gave us a time and location and failed to update or tell us about the new location. Now, frantically, I call them with my phone that’s starting to run low. It’s 9:15, dark, sweltering after running with full packs over wet concrete, and we are in a part of Delhi that we aren’t familiar with.

    Red bus answers, and, after I update them on our situation, they give me a number to call. They don’t forward me to the number to save me the trouble, they don’t find the information themselves and help me, they toss a number in my lap and essentially say, “Good luck, Sucker.” So, I call the number, and a man tells me that my bus is actually at Gate 3 of the Kashmere Gate Metro. “Okay thanks, wait for us! We are coming!” I don’t have any more time to yell at this guy for not telling us this days ago, so I hang up. I translate this to my wife and we proceed to run as fast as we can to Gate 3. We have to repay the fare to enter the station because there is no way around, our feet are slippery so we are sliding around the station as we weave through people. I’m doing my best to keep a light foot as I sprint through the station because both of my knees have minor ACL injuries. We ask various people how to get there because the signs don’t seem clear. We see “Platform 3”, but nothing about “Gate 3.” Someone is kind enough to point us in the right direction. Gate 3, finally. No bus.

    I call RedBus again, “Sorry, sorry, sir. Actually, the bus is at GTB Nagar.”

    What the hell? We have no idea where that is and a crowd has formed around us: the two sweaty foreigners who are looking around with panic and fear in their eyes. We just want to get on our sleeper bus so we can spend a night out of the city in the mountains. Instead, we are running through parts of New Delhi that we don’t know, in the dark, with massive traffic jams all around us. We weave through all the curious people and find an auto. We tell him GTB and he says, “100 rupees.” It’s not even in the cards to bargain with an auto driver right now, so we hop in and go. On the way, I call the number again, and he gives us a new, fifth location. I’m furious, and I don’t fully understand him due to all the noise from horns and whipping air, so I hand the phone to the auto driver. He nods and hands the phone back, pulls a u-turn, and zooms off until we hit traffic. We sit in it for 30 minutes until we arrive at a random petrol station. I don’t see our bus, so I call him again. He tells our driver that the bus is further down the road, so we drive another five minutes. There are a few buses there and people standing around. Eventually we find the man that we had been talking to, and we ask him, without being pleasant, why he had told us multiple locations. He dodged the question and said that he tried to call us days ago. We go through both of our phone records and realize he lied to us to save face.

    At this point, it’s 10:30, and the bus still hasn’t come. It never comes for us. Instead, a man holding a passenger information sheet runs over to us at 12:00 am and asks us if we are going to Kullu. He says, “Come, come.” And starts to run down the dark, busy road, towards a random bus. This bus has a different plate number than the one we were told was ours. He says, “Yes, yes, to Kullu. Get on.” We get on, sweaty, tired, and fed up with the whole thing. There are two seats, one with a broken back and one with a broken foot rest. The seat numbers aren’t what we signed up for or payed for. Off we go… (A whole other story emerges here.)

    Normally, I might let this go, but if the circumstances were different, something really bad could have happened. If we had kids with us (not smart in general, but RedBus shouldn’t exclude the possibility), if we didn’t have sim cards, if we didn’t have a knowledge of how to get around Delhi, if we had actual suitcases, if we had handicaps, this could have been an even more dangerous situation. I don’t think a company should even come close to operating like this, especially under the guise of safety, customer care, and convenience.

    RedBus, in its current state, is a seemingly abhorrent company. Upon reaching out to them with an abridged version of this story, they failed to respond to me. I contacted them in public on Twitter two weeks later, and, quick as can be, they responded. But, the only action they eventually took was to refund 12% of the ticket cost. There was little remorse, little insurance that won’t happen again to others (I'll never use them again), and a general disinterest in genuine customer care. Hopefully this will get around and they will finally feel compelled to do something about what’s happening in at least Delhi. Nobody should be fooled into giving money to a business that makes their customers jump through hoops of fire. I feel fooled by RedBus, more than I ever have by a company I initially trusted.

    I would love to hear what Indians and tourists alike have to say about company behavior like this. Is it generally understood or not that things operate like this and little can be done?

    TLDR; RedBus lied to us, gave us five different pickup locations as we tried to find the bus, the bus came close to three hours late, and we didn't even get the bus or seats we payed for.

  2. djtravels

    djtravels Member

    Well, in that case, leave terrible reviews for them everywhere, including their fb page. I had a similarly terrible experience once as well. The guy sold me "luxury bus" sleeper tickets. In my mind that meant a bus with enough space. But, when I got to the bus, all I found was a crowded thing that had been packed by 2 people per bed/birth. Needless to say, I didn't even wait to ask for a refund or anything.

    Since then, I have found that the best way to get a bus is to simply book tickets directly or via the main travel websites. In terms of comfort, Volvo buses usually ply to most parts, and they're pretty comfy.

    Also, if you're getting off of at the airport, you can usually find Airport to Destination X buses as well which are even better. They are neither crowded nor non-luxurious. The Manali volvo bus also starts from the Delhi Airport itself.

  3. vkar

    vkar Member

    I keep hearing stories of bad experiences with RedBus. They are not shady or anything like that, but their main issue seems to be a serious lack of proper communication. To make things worse, their customer support is horrendous to say the least. I am sure you will find more such stories if you look around.
  4. calicer1996

    calicer1996 New Member

    I've had terrible experience with redbus before. You really gave out a detailed experience. Thanks a lot for that. I hope some employees from Redbus see this and pick themselves up before it's too late.
  5. Mohit Eagle

    Mohit Eagle Member

    I had used services for red bus a couple of years ago, seems like they are not doing so well now.

    Would you recommend any other bus service?