The following letter is what I sent to the President of Gray Line Bus Tours... you guessed it... no reply, they obviously don't care about their customers.
Dear Grayline Official:
On June 19th we visited New York City and prior to that we pre-ordered/purchased an “All Loops” pass on your double decker buses. We were excited to have this opportunity to visit New York and it was even a more special occasion because our two daughters (age 6 & 13) were with us on this visit. On June 20th at 11:13 AM we redeemed our voucher for your service. We took our place in line (Avenue of the America's by your offices) to begin what we thought would be pleasant and memorable adventure for our daughters. Unfortunately, it was very busy this day on your bus tours. We boarded bus number 71335 hoping if we rode it far enough people would get off at one of the scheduled stops. People trickled off, we understand you operate a popular service and it’s first come first served. After waiting our turn (after numerous stops) our two daughters were able to go up to the top level. At this time your tour guide (described as a white female mid to upper 60’s in age) yelled at my 13 year old daughter “on her microphone” stating “that’s my seat... unless of course you can do my job...get out of my seat, your seat is in back”, this was the first occurrence which my daughter (and both of us) were embarrassed. In fact, the seat my daughters took were the very first seats in the first row. I learned later by another passenger who stated “that was totally uncalled for, embarrassing little girls like that, they must have been terrified”. This same passenger pointed our a bright yellow seat which was the seat reserved for the tour guide. The seating wasn’t the problem, it was what she did.
After several more stops, my wife was able to obtain a seat on the upper level, things were actually looking up for us, we were determined to see as much of New York as we possible could, it’s a beautiful city with too much history to miss, that’s why we bought your service for $63.00 each.
Approximately 2-3 stops later, I was able to get up to the top deck of the bus. I had a stroller, which was folded and compact, I was sweating and nervous because this turned out to be more than we bargained for but still, I thought “what an opportunity for the children.” As I was going up the steps with the stroller, your tour guide spoke loudly in the microphone stating “NO strollers up here... you go back down those steps and put it down there... some people, we don’t even have room for people up here and he wants to bring a stroller.” That was the second time she embarrassed us, especially me, I felt like crawling in a hole. I’m a police officer and I don’t talk to criminals like she spoke to me. I then made my way back up the stairs and looked towards the back of the bus for my seat. Your tour guide “yes” got back on the microphone and actually screamed at me (I’m not exaggerating) “up here, hurry up, not back there” and started shaking her head from side to side. Then she leaned back to the male passenger sitting right behind her stating “unbelievable, I love my job” and shook her head from side to side once again. I confronted her asking her to stop being so mean. That was it, the war was on... she gave it to me with both barrels, sat with her mouth open and stared me down, she then shook her head again (side to side) mumbled, unreal and told me “sit down now.” I’m not making this stuff up, I don’t think anybody could. The male that she seemed to bond with yelled out to me “get used to it, this is New York! If you don’t like it, get off the bus.” This angered some other passengers who started making comments such as “it’s about time somebody went up against her” an elderly couple told my wife that they had her as a tour guide their last time on the bus and the elderly male said in a loud tone to his wife “how did you let me get on the bus with this lady... I thought I told you I would never go on the same bus as her again.” So now this is the third embarrassing moment.
I then sat in my seat with my head straight forward, there was no place to go... we didn’t even know where we were, we were stuck! I felt like a little child that was just scolded.
Approximately 3 stops later she announced “China Town, anybody want to get off at China Town”, so we did... I know from being in New York before when I visited China Town there was a Subway there we could catch.
She made an announcement before we departed saying “please be considerate, your tips are the only way we make our money”, “be courteous, give generously, we provided a service to you, this is your way to say thank you.” I just about puked - I couldn’t believe her... this was the most miserable experience I’ve ever had. And no excuse that this is New York... I’ve visited New York many times and never was treated like this. This was supposed to be special, my girls (my wife too) were never so embarrassed and it literally ruined the rest of our day, this wasn’t fair. We tried to recoup and make the best out of it but it didn’t happen.
There was no way I would give her one penny, she was an absolute nightmare and I think she should be fired. I don’t know if anybody else has taken the time to write a letter, but I’m still mad over it... every time we look at pictures and see one of your buses in it, the story gets told over and over, that’s the first thing my 13 year old told her friends of her New York experience... isn’t that sad, it should have been how exciting the city is, the food, the excitement, the view from our beautiful hotel, anything but the “tour guide from ***” experience.
We did not, would not get on another Grayline bus for the rest of our trip even though we had a 48 hour pass, this was a total waste of time and money and an entire ruined day out of our very expensive vacation that we saved a long time for. I tried to tell the station where we redeemed our voucher and they didn’t care to hear about it, your representative said “you still have time left on your ticket”, she nor anybody else could care a less which makes me believe they deal with this often, (probably from the same tour guide).
I did take a picture of the bus which reflects the bus number... I’m hoping you can gain the tour guides identity from this along with the date and time I provided. I am also sending this letter to the New York Mayor’s office, New York Consumer affairs, and New York Office of Tourism Board to start with. We can’t get back the miserable day we had but I do want my money back for all four tickets (copy of tickets & photo of bus attached). We paid for a service and we didn’t get it. There’s no excuse for anybody to treat other people, especially people who are on their vacation this way. I won’t except “get used to it, this is New York”, if this is how it was, I trust your tourism business would be a negative 0.
I hope to hear from you soon!
Frank B. Pipia, Jr.