Five Star Coachways / Breach of contract, negligence, misconduct, extortion
Complaint about the awful performance by the Five Star Coachways (d.b.a. as “American Coach Service” and “US Coach”) in the months of September-October 2008 in Washington DC
After researching “Five Star Coachways Inc.” at the Department of Transportation (US DOT) as well as online and talking with their company representatives, we were convinced that they are a professional and serious company that deserves our several thousands dollars worth of business. Unfortunately, we were proven wrong on at least four major occasions by Five Star Coachways’ negligence, woeful and unprofessional performance.
1) On September 29, 2008, the “Five Star Coachways” (also doing business as “US Coach” and “American Coach Service”, US DOT Number 1719523, MC Number 631364, W. Broad St. #301, Falls Church, VA [protected]) was supposed to meet the United Airlines flight from Frankfurt at the Dulles Airport, scheduled to arrive at 2:05pm. The flight arrived 45 minutes earlier, and Five Star Coachways was not ready for that, not tracking the flight, despite its written promise on its own homepage of its corporate website: “Just provide the flight details and leave the rest to us. A professional, fully uniformed driver will meet you in the arrivals lounge on time” http://www.fivestarcoachways.com/ (indeed, on that same website they even have a flight tracking online form, making it a snap for them to check the flights arrival time). Our organization was mindful of such a possibility, as flights are routinely delayed or arrive early, and per contract with Five Stars Coachways, provided all the precise information to the bus company to make sure they can live up to their promise of “leave the rest to us. A professional, fully uniformed driver will meet you in the arrivals lounge on time”. We were also in contact with the company since the morning of September 29, to make sure that everything goes smoothly.
Yet when we called the driver at around 2:15pm, he was still on road and estimated his arrival in about 30 minutes, that is by around 2:50pm. Moreover, despite Mary M. from Five Star Coachways informing us on behalf of Wissam Ghareeb, the manager, in writing via email, the driver’s name (Tommy) and his cell phone number at 10:52am on that same day, he was then abruptly changed, without any notice, to another driver (Habib) with a different cell phone number. We found this out only at around 2:00pm when started to call bus driver Tommy, to see where is he, expecting him to be at or near the Dulles airport, but instead finding out from him that we must call the main office of Five Star Coachways and find out who is the actual driver that is supposed to meet us. Of course, no one in the Five Star Coachways office, or the new driver, even thought of contacting us directly via cell phone. This negligence by Five Star Coachways caused a significant trust and logistical problem, as the eight (8) member delegation arriving from overseas, not speaking English and suffering from jetlag, was forced to take three taxis instead of waiting for the mini-bus. Each taxi’s cost (with tip, fuel surcharge and additional luggage fee) from IAD to Foggy Bottom district in Washington DC is about $60.00.
2) The next significant problem happened on October 2, 2008, at around 8:00pm, when the mini-bus that was supposed to take our hotel guests from One Washington Circle Hotel in Washington DC to the Amtrak train station at around 9pm, broke down. No replacement was provided, and no notification was provided, despite this clause being in the contract. This gross negligence has caused a serious problem for everyone, since the last train to New York was at 10:05pm, and hence none of the foreign guests were able to make it on time, as everyone at first thought the mini-bus is just a little behind due to traffic, and then, that a replacement would be provided, as is supposed to be per contract. Instead, we had to change train tickets for everyone – half of visitors had to leave at the next train to NYC, which was at 3:00am (red eye), and the other half left on the 9:15am train the next day. The second half had to get an additional day of hotel stay, which has incurred approximately $600 in additional charges for our organization. In both cases, taxis had to be provided to transport the guests from hotel to train station (about $17.00 each), and time had to be spent to change the tickets. This was yet another example of gross negligence and utter disregard of all obligations by Five Star Coachways. Note that the total driving time from the hotel to the train station is about twenty (20) minutes, but mindful that our guests might, due to weather or traffic, not make it to the 9:05pm train to NYC, we had the contingency of the 10:05pm train. Unfortunately, Five Star Coachways’ performance, despite charging same rates as other bus companies, rips apart any contingency planning, and turns everything into a rollercoaster ride.
3) On October 4, 2008, at around 12 o’clock, one of our guests called us, saying that the bus driver, despite his contractual obligations, refuses (!) to take them from New York to Dulles Airport, since he supposedly has not been paid, which was completely untrue as we paid fare, toll, taxes and 20% tip all in one in advance, per our contract with Five Star Coachways. After talking with him, we found out that he is racketeering for an additional $20.00 (twenty dollars!!!) for himself. Irritated and amazed, as well as feeling humiliated, we had to ask our guests to give the driver his “booty” of $20.00. This is an example of willful misconduct by the Five Star Coachways bus driver.
4) Finally, at around 7:00pm, we got a call from our guests (instead of the driver or company) that the mini-bus has broken in Washington D.C. near the I-395, around E. Capitol Street. This was the second time that their bus has broken down on our watch, suggesting gross negligence on the part of the company. The driver – the racketeering driver who extorted extra $20 for himself – just left the bus (!), leaving our guests dumbfounded and in the dark, as well as making it impossible for us to talk to him via phone, nor to understand the precise location of the bus. The new bus arrived only 50 minutes later, bringing the very tired, irritated and angry guests to Dulles Airport at around 8:40pm (their international flight to Frankfurt was at 9:30pm, thus we had to speak at length with the United Airlines representatives to allow for a late check-in). As on October 2, we did allow for ample extra time on this day for the travel – despite NYC to IAD drive time being about four (4) hours, we essentially doubled the time – but even this was almost not enough, and only thanks to our very forceful intervention were we able to delay the international flight and get all our guests on it on.
All this extremely unprofessional and grossly negligent attitude by Five Star Coachways has resulted in not only monetary damages to the our organization and the organizers, but also damage and loss of reputation, since four (4) scandalous problems in a matter of a few days that were the result of Five Star Coachways’ awful performance are simply unacceptable by any standard and difficult to comprehend.