Passenger left stranded by budget bus

KELSEY FLETCHER
Last updated 10:28 18/01/2012
Naked Bus
JASON OXENHAM
LEFT BEHIND:Jordan Earl and his mother Audrey are seeking a refund from nakedbus.com.

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An Auckland man travelling on a low-cost bus service was left behind after a rest stop in Paihia but the operator will not refund the fare.

Pt Chevalier resident Jordan Earl, 19, was was on his way to visit his grandparents in Kerikeri earlier this month, travelling with nakedbus.com.

He got off the bus to use the bathroom at a passenger pick-up point in Paihia and was shocked to return and find it gone.

Earl left all his belongings on the bus apart from his cellphone which he used to call his grandparents.

"My bag, laptop, money, everything was on the bus," he says.

"I called my grandparents and told them to meet the bus and get my stuff."

Earl, who was eventually picked up by his grandparents, says he asked the driver's permission to leave the bus for his toilet break but nakedbus.com disagrees.

Marketing manager Angel Chen says the driver did not know Earl required a bathroom stop and would otherwise have happily obliged.

"Our investigation showed that our driver was not aware Mr Earl disembarked, supported by the shock exhibited upon reaching Kerikeri and discovering through family members that a passenger was missing," she says.

"Our driver offered to return to collect Mr Earl, which is not our policy and so offered to go above and beyond the call of duty."

Earl's mother got a similar response when she first called the company's 0900 number to sort out the incident.

"The company said the driver had said he just got off the bus," Audrey Earl says.

"What 19-year-old would get off and leave his laptop and money? What if it was a young child without a cellphone?"

Mrs Earl says she wants an apology and compensation for costs incurred – including toll calls made to sort out the problem.

"I want my calls credited. I don't think I should pay to complain, it's a valid complaint," she says. "We want the $39 bus ticket refunded and the grandparents compensated for their petrol – it's an hour to Paihia and back."

Chen says nakedbus.com is sorry for the frustration the Earls have experienced but did its best to communicate and resolve the incident.

"Mr Earl is not entitled to reimbursement of his fare as our investigation showed he made no attempt to notify our driver that he required a rest break," she says. "Furthermore, as our driver offered to pick Jordan up, the petrol costs incurred by Jordan's grandparents could have been avoided."

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Chen says anyone phoning the company's 0900 number is told that calls will incur a charge before being given the prompt to proceed.

"We explained to Mrs Earl she had the option of the free email service, and we did contact her via email, giving her the option of continuing with this matter via a free outlet."

- Auckland City Harbour News

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