Flixbus has been my No.1 choice of cheap transportation around Europe until recently when their terrible customer service screwed the hell up my travel plans.
The trouble started with my order of Interflix, a deal that covers travels to five European cities for only 99 euros. It seemed a perfect choice for my one-month backpacking trip around Europe, but the way Flixbus handled it was pretty lousy. After placing the order, I received five vouchers from the company by email and was pledged to have them activated within 48 hours. I waited three days to redeem the vouchers just to find only one of them was activated and the rest was invalid. It was alright, probably a technical problem, so I sent a few email inquiries to their customer service division. It took them WEEKS to return my emails and yet they weren’t very helpful.
I finally decided to call their hot line. At first, an English-speaking staff nicely helped me activate four invalid vouchers. Things were smooth then, I redeemed the coupons in my bookings and got email confirmations from Flixbus immediately. But the problem was not over. Three weeks later Flixbus sent me an email (to reply my first inquiry about invalid vouchers) saying that my order had been cancelled due to credit card fraud (??!!). The funny thing is that I had booked Flixbus tickets so many times before with the same card. I sent follow-up emails to ask for explanation and again they dissapeared. It hit me like like they just stopped by to announce the bad news and expected me to suck it up? I had already started the trip by then, having no sim card to call, and because of Flixbus all of my month-long travel plans had to be re-arranged!
A few days later I tried to make other bookings on the Flixbus website (this time separately from the Interflix package, no vouchers involved). Everything seemed fine, the payment was through, Flixbus confirmed my reservations so I assumed there was no problem with my card. But then I was refused to board the bus from Aix-en-Provence to Barcelona (which I paid with Interflix voucher) because my name was not in their passenger list and that the payment was invalid. I called the customer center for a verification, and the teller told me it’s not his problem! ‘Buy a new ticket onboard!’ – he said.
Bus never arrived
The first time this irony happened was on a cold Dec night in Prague when I was waiting for the eight-hour bus to Krakow. The e-ticket said my bus would depart at Prague railway station which sounds a bit weird so I checked the address over the over again, even turned on the GPS, to make sure the location was right.
Anyway I arrived at the station early to explore the area. There were two Flixbus bus stops at the indicated address, situated on two opposite sides of the highway: one would go in the direction to Berlin, Paris and Warsaw (bus stop #3) and the other would go to Budapest, Frankfurt and Krakow (bus stop #4). Mine was the latter. One hour before the departure, I crossed the huge underground station to the other side of Wilsonova highway to bus stop #4 and waited. Two Russian girls joined me 30 minutes before the bus departure and by talking to them I knew we were waiting for the same bus. But it never came. None of us have a sim card to call the Flixbus hot line which was based in Germany, so I asked G to make a call from Italy, and the answer was that the bus had already departed. Wait..what? We were there the whole time. Until today I still have no idea how it happened, it was still a mystery when or how the bus arrived without us seeing it. After a long email exchange they finally gave a voucher as a compensation WEEKS later, but it was really irritating I had to spend the night in the middle of nowhere, waiting for the next bus and spending the following day transporting to Krakow.
The second time was from Milan to Verona. At 9:00, thirty minutes before departure, I received a text message from Flixbus saying that the bus would be late for ten minutes. Victoria and I were already waiting at a cafeteria just one minute walk from the bus stop so we decided to stay there for a little while more. We showed up at the stop at 9:31. A lot of buses were coming and going. We double-checked with a coordinator about our Verona bus, he confirmed with us that yes, it would be late. So we waited fifteen minutes, then 30 mins, then an hour. Still no clue when, or worse, IF our vehicle would arrive. We called the hot line just to learn that the bus had actually arrived on time and left the station at 9:30!
Ironically Vic didn’t receive the Flixbus message about its ten minute delay until one hour later! Argh!
Everything has a price, I know. But Flixbus customer care has a lot of room to improve. I’ve had enough of their service and decided to try some other alternatives including Euroline and Polskibus which weren’t as bad (in fact, they are both cheaper!)
Good bye, Flixbus!