The Express Bus to Hell
Courtesy Sean Gallagher, ArsTechnica
People complain about businesses online all the time. But one bus company’s campaign to shut down its Internet haters has expanded into an array of lawsuits and, most recently, threats against a reddit forum moderator.
Suburban Express is a bus line that caters to students, providing weekend lifts into the Chicago area from colleges in Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa. The company has developed a bad reputation online, withreviewers on Yelp and commenters on reddit sharing stories of what they claim are the company’s cutthroat business practices. For example, the company’s ticket policy includes a "ticket fraud" clause that hits riders who hand the wrong ticket to a driver with a $100 fine, charged to the credit card used to purchase their ticket. "In the event that ticket is used to obtain transportation on another day or at another time," the company’s policy statement reads, "or to or from a Chicago area stop other than printed on your ticket, you will be charged full fare for the trip you actually rode PLUS $100 penalty. You will also be permanently banned." The company also has a history of suing passengers for violating its terms and conditions—it has filed 125 tort and contract damage lawsuits against passengers this year alone, according to a report from a student newspaper.
The terms of service don’t include not speaking ill of the company online, but apparently they might as well. Some commenters have accused the company’s owner, Dennis Toeppen, of hunting down negative reviewers and banning them from the company’s buses.