Buy a bus ticket for a friend, face a gift fee

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by JESSE JONES / KING 5

Bio | Email | Follow: @getjesse

KING5.com

Posted on June 24, 2014 at 5:35 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 24 at 5:35 PM

Jim Perpich feels like his wallet's getting taken for a ride by one of the country's largest bus companies - Greyhound.  Jim's son bought a ticket on Greyhound to go back to school at Western Washington University.  He used his parents’ credit card to make the purchase.

“The price on the ticket reflected it was $23,” said Perpich.

But when Perpich checked his bank statement a few days later the cost was something different. 

“We discovered that fee for Greyhound was showing at $43.50 instead of the $23 ticket fee that I had a receipt for,” explained Perpich.

Perpich called Greyhound and learned he'd been hit with the company's gift fee.  It's an $18 charge that's tacked on when the person traveling is different from the one buying the online ticket.

“(I’m) just trying to do business with them and they're penalizing me a $18 gift fee which in my mind is just a gift I'm giving to Greyhound, is what it comes down to,” said Perpich.

And it can drive up the cost of the fare.  In this case it increased the price 78%.  Greyhound's website does tell you about it when you're buying, but it's one of those fine print things.

“If you have time to look through every little you know typed thing that they put in there.  You'd take half a day buying a ticket is what it comes down to,” said Perpich.

Greyhound tells me the fee is meant to reduce cases of fraud.  In a statement it says:

"We have no way of verifying the identity of the cardholder, which creates an opportunity for a customer to purchase tickets fraudulently with a stolen credit card and buy a ticket for any person...."

Heck, if security's the real issue, Perpich could have hired a security guard to drive his card to the station.  According to the Bureau of Labor, the median salary for a security guard is $11.55 per hour. On a Saturday it takes 20 minutes to get from Perpich's house in Issaquah to the Greyhound station.  The guard could do the whole job in an hour and spent the rest on lunch.

Now Greyhound does have vendors where you can pay in cash and avoid this fee.   Bottom line: Read the fine print because what's hidden in the details could save you unexpected costs.

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