Bamboozled: Case of lost luggage unzipped

You pack your belongings, board a plane or a bus and hope your bags reach your destination.

But luggage gets lost sometimes. Commonly — and hopefully within a few days — the airline or bus company tracks down your bags and delivers them to you. But sometimes, they vanish without a trace.

That’s what happened to Shirley on a Greyhound bus trip from Newark to Virginia for her grandson’s first birthday.

Inconvenient, yes. But not the end of the world. Stuff happens.

Muldrow got over the lost bag pretty quickly. What she couldn’t get over was the red tape that entangled her as she tried to follow the company’s procedures to report the missing bag.

“I just want Greyhound to be held accountable for resolving this matter,” Muldrow said.


On July 1, Muldrow boarded a Greyhound bus at Newark Penn Station. She checked two bags, but when she arrived in Norfolk, Va., only one could be found. Some clothing and shoes, makeup, a phone charger, a hair dryer, a curling iron and her diabetes medication were gone.

The Elizabeth resident said she was told to file a claim when she returned to Newark.

She purchased new clothing for her trip and for her grandson’s birthday party.

Back in Newark, she filed her lost bag claim on July 12.

“I was told after this that someone from headquarters in Dallas would contact me,” she said. “I hadn’t heard anything.”

She called Dallas on July 14 and was told her claim was in the system and Greyhound was still looking for the bag, she said.

She called the following week for an update, but this time a Mr. Gonzalez told her her claim was not in the system.

Confusion ensued.

She called Dallas again on July 19, and this time a rep named Mark told her the claim was “probably on the mail room floor.”


Muldrow was told to “give it some time,” but she didn’t understand why her claim appeared to be as lost as her bag was, she said.

She called Newark, and a rep said there was no claim in the system but she’d receive a call from Dallas.

No call from Dallas.

She called Newark again and again was told Dallas would call.

No call from Dallas.

“The week of July 25, I called Dallas two times, Newark once, and still no claim form in the system,” she said. “So far I’d spoken to Mr. Gonzalez, Guttierez, Mark, Arthur, Carlos and finally Carlos Garavito on Aug. 15 after I received the letter stating that they need my original baggage claim receipt in order to substantiate my claim.”

That would be fine, Muldrow said, but when she filed her claim in Newark on July 12, the rep, Ms. Ceres, took the originals and said she was sending them to Dallas with the claim form.

Muldrow only had copies of the documentation.

On Aug. 16., she said, she faxed all the paperwork to Dallas three times to make sure it was received. She also made another trip to Newark.

“Ms. Ceres, she assured me she sent everything ‘on the bus to Dallas,’ ” she said. “I’m thinking it would be faxed or mailed. But sent on a bus?”

Still, no one from either city, at that time, was able to track down the claim, or the lost bag.

“I’ve had my luggage lost on the airlines twice before, but they always bring it to my home or wherever I am staying,” she said. “This has been a nightmare. I will never travel via bus again.”


Bamboozled reached out to Greyhound for some answers.

Company spokeswoman Bonnie Bastian explained that Greyhound has 90 days after a claim is filed to locate lost bags. If a bag isn’t found, a customer is eligible for monetary damages, limited to $250 per bag — assuming the bag wasn’t insured for “excess value charges.”

Muldrow wouldn’t be eligible for reimbursement until Oct. 10, the end of the 90-day window, Bastian said.

Muldrow wasn’t in a rush, but she wanted to know the claim was in the system.

“I talked to one of our customer service managers and her claim has been in the system (since Aug. 8), so we’re not real sure why someone would have said it’s not in the system,” Bastian said.

She promised the company would look into it.

Later that day, Muldrow received a call from a Greyhound rep who apologized for the runaround. The rep said someone was assigned to the case and Muldrow should get an answer in two weeks — by Aug. 31.

Then on Aug. 26, Muldrow received a check from Greyhound.

“I can’t believe I received a check for $250,” Muldrow said. “Can you believe how swiftly they moved after your phone call? I was determined not to give up and go away quietly.”

Bamboozled is grateful Greyhound helped this customer so fast, but what happened to the 90 days it has to find lost bags?

Guess that timetable is somewhat flexible when the media calls.


Verizon takes it on the chin quite often, including in this column.

Shortly after the Bamboozled column was launched in 2009, we helped several readers who had trouble with wrong Caller IDs on home and office phones. That’s when we first met Tom Maguire, senior vice president for national operations for Verizon.

Maguire fixed the Caller ID troubles, and he asked Bamboozled to forward him any customer complaints — whether we were going to write about them or not.

Since then, Maguire and his team have helped resolve dozens of issues for Verizon customers — knowing there would be no good publicity to go with every good deed.

It happened again on Sept. 9. Reader Lois Wallace e-mailed Bamboozled, saying her disabled adult son, who lives alone and who cannot move without assistance, lost phone service in the early morning hours of Sept. 6. It was dangerous for him to be without a telephone line for emergencies, she said.

Wallace said she called Verizon, explained the situation and was told a repair person would be there on Sept. 8.

“Yes, that would mean he would be out of phone contact for over two days,” Wallace wrote in an e-mail. “He recognized the difficult current circumstances (related to damage from Hurricane Irene) and said okay.”

Sept. 8 came, but the tech was unable to fix the problem immediately. Someone was supposed to return, but no one did.

Friday morning, Wallace called Verizon again. While on hold and very, very frustrated, she e-mailed Bamboozled about her son’s plight.

At 11:18, Bamboozled forwarded Wallace’s e-mail to Maguire, explaining we weren’t planning to write about the problem but it seemed like the guy needed help.

At 11:22, Maguire e-mailed colleagues, asking for the team to get on it.

At 1:37, Wallace reported her son’s phone was working again.

A fix, about two hours after the problem, was reported to Maguire. And no, Bamboozled wasn’t going to write this, but it’s about time we thank Maguire and the team at Verizon for stepping up again.

It’s one thing when a company does the right thing when it knows there will be a story about its actions in the newspaper. But doing the right thing when there’s no expectation of good publicity? And doing it again and again?

We wish Bamboozled had more people like Maguire in our Rolodex.