I know there are other posts about experiences with Jetbus, but I wanted to put mine up separately to make it easier to find. I don’t want to ‘rant’ (though parts of this may seem to be, especially me description of the phone conversation which is hard to relay without sounding ‘rantish’). The point of this post is to simply let people know about my experience so that they may take it into account when looking for a shuttle in Melbourne. I’ve looked for more appropriate places on the site to post this, but there doesn’t seem to be one for shuttle services, so while I hate to look like a troll (I usually just post my experiences as reviews rather than use the forums so i don’t have many forum posts against my name) I can assure you I’m not. If anyone can suggest a more appropriate place for me to place this feedback (I’m still relatively new to the site) then please let me know and I’ll shift this and ask a moderator to remove the thread.
I booked my tickets on Jetbus as I was travelling with my mum who has a very bad knee (having knee replacement surgery later this year) and while I didn't mind the possibility of standing as I’ve had to do on Skybus many a time, I didn't want her to have to. I was also apprehensive of the taxi because of the warning on the Melbourne Airport website.
I diligently confirmed the amount of time I should allow from landing with Skybus before making my booking as this wasn’t clear on their site, and booked the pick up for the time they recommended in their response. I also confirmed my booking 24 hours prior to departure by email (as I couldn’t find an international dialling number on their site).
I found the booking process easy, the return emails were polite and the website easy to navigate.
Pickup at airport:
My booking was for 10.40 am. We exited the terminal 2 doors at 10.30am on the dot and I headed straight across the road and waited right there as the confirmation email in my hand stated. At 10.45am I asked my mum to wait at the pickup point with the bags while I walked up and down the centre strip to see if the bus was elsewhere, after walking as far as the Skybus terminal I turned around to walk back, only to see an empty Jetbus van drive right past me. I got a call from mum on her mobile right then, telling me she’d seen the empty van so I headed back to her, meanwhile dialling the number on the confirmation email, by this time it was 10.50am.
When the woman answered the phone I said hello and mentioned that I had a booking at 10.40am but that I may have been waiting in the wrong place as we’d just seen a Jetbus van go by.. At which point the woman cut me off mid sentence, raised her voice at me and informed me that it was entirely my own fault and what did I expect as I should have just walked out the door and waited across the road like the website clearly stated and that it was 10.50am so I was obviously late. She then stopped for a moment to ask my name. Once I gave her this confirmed that she had told the driver to leave because I wasn’t directly across the road like I should have been at 10.40am and started telling me all the terms and conditions of the service in the same raised voice, followed by the statement that I would need to wait for the next shuttle in 45 minutes. All the while the only words I was able to get in were my initial introduction and my name when she asked. After listening to the terms and conditions and shuttle offer I advised her that we had actually been waiting just where she said and that we had been on time. She snorted, then advised me no I wasn’t and that I also had only provided them with an international number so they couldn’t call me. Nowhere on their website did they mention that they would not call an international mobile number, in fact it tells you to have your mobile on so the driver can contact you.
She then continued on and advised me that she had offered me the option of the next shuttle in 45 minutes which is all I was entitled to and that she was going to charge the cost of the fare again to my card for the inconvenience to the 7 other passengers! At this point she did stop talking and after a moments shock I advised her that I had been in the correct place at the correct time, that I had seen no passengers in the van, that I did not wish to wait an hour for the next shuttle so would make alternate arrangements and would be ending the call then and making a formal complaint at a later time as I was too angry to continue speaking to her – thank you and good bye. It’s probably hard to believe that I remained polite during the call, but I was a CSR for 4 years and really did manage to keep my cool until after I hung up, though I think I scared some tourists with my expletives once I ended the call!
I sat and calmed down for 5 minutes then called back and after finding out I had the same person, I asked to speak to a supervisor regarding my return booking. The woman realised who I was and asked ‘are you the one who just hung up on me’ and when I said that had ended the call on her, she advised me there was no supervisor on site and what did I want to know? I replied that I wanted to confirm that there would be no issues with the return pickup from the hotel, to which she condescendingly started taking me through the terms and conditions of the booking again then starting asking me when I had booked for, when my flight was leaving etc etc to make sure I had the right times this time, all the while with a snarl in her voice. I rose to the bait at this point and said that I had the right times last time, which I should not have done and which set her off on a second diatribe. After a minute I actually had to yell to make myself heard and ask that she please stop talking over me and arguing as we clearly could not agree and could we please just confirm my hotel pick up. This call ended in much the same way with me needing to tell her I was ending the call, thank you good bye, though at least we had confirmed the hotel pick up.
Just to clarify, not once did I even hear “I’m sorry for this” or any form of empathy from their representative. I made my initial inquiry very politely and simply asked if I had made a mistake (not them), and did not ask for any form of compensation so there was no reason for me to be responded to so aggressively.
The hotel pick up:
I was terrified that something would go wrong with the return trip based on my first experience and I was correct. On the return trip, they showed up 15 minutes early and took off immediately upon seeing no-one outside. I happened to be on the balcony taking photos and saw this happen otherwise I wouldn't have had a clue. I immediately ran downstairs and the concierge advised that Jetbus had called to see if someone with the same first name could be picked up earlier than booked but had given him a totally different last name so he couldn't find the record.
He called the company for us and they advised that they'd return within 30 minutes... While I was waiting for them I talked to him about my experience and he advised me that they used to be great but now you he would suggest that Skybus or Taxis were better. When they didn't arrive after 30 minutes, he waited a further 5 minutes and called them again. On this call, they confirmed that they had just picked up the last of the other passengers and were on their way to get us. He made sure that we were the last pick up on the list and they confirmed we were. 15 minutes later they eventually showed up, well after our initial booking time and after the 20 minute buffer time they advise you need to allow. The bus also was empty and was a different one from the one which had shown up that morning, which was a van. I had allowed 2 hours on top of the 20 minute buffer to arrive at the airport and was glad that I had, as we still had plenty of time to arrive. I honestly got the impression that had the concierge not called, they would never have returned and that they had sent a separate bus from the airport. I can understand their not wanting to complete the pickup in the first place as they couldn’t confirm I was staying there, but this was because they had the wrong name in their system and were again unwilling to call the mobile number I had provided as contact. I also appreciate the fact that they sent a second bus for us, but they shouldn’t have had to had they just called me or had the right name.
I really feel that both the pick up and drop off issue could have been avoided had the woman who answered been polite in her tone (or at least civil) and if she had tried calling the mobile number I provided, which was on from the minute I disembarked on arrival to the moment I arrived at my departure check in. I personally could not recommend this company for either reliability or customer service and would suggest that either Sky Bus or a taxi would be the better option.
I chose to take a taxi from the airport, and the pricing for two people was very reasonable and $7 cheaper each way than the shuttle service, though my destination and pick up was only Franklin Street, so this may not be the case for others. I also completely commend the young man on the desk at Nova Stargate who resolved the return pickup issue for us and was very calm and helpful.
I think that this service would be best used by an Australian resident rather than an international visitor as it really would only have taken 1 phone call for us to find the shuttle was parked 2 minutes in the other direction (I believe this was towards the domestic terminal) but they seem unwilling to call anything other than a domestic number.
I hope this helps someone else make the decision on which shuttle service to use and I apologise for this sounding more like a rant than I wanted!