A one-way ticket to frustration on Bus Éireann

The company’s trial seat-reservation system caused one customer heartache

Colin Maguire bought a return ticket from Dublin to Monaghan on Bus Éireann’s website not long ago. The experience did not exactly leave him delighted.

“They have introduced a policy whereby you must choose the exact time of departure for both outward and return journeys prior to purchasing your ticket,” he says. “The site informed me that I would have to pay a small fee should I later wish to amend my journey.

“Bus Éireann also seems to have introduced scaled pricing because I had to pay more for the outward journey on Friday evening,” he add, but that is an aside.

“Anyway, previously when one presented one’s online return ticket to the bus driver, he or she gave you the return ticket. The bus driver now gives you a single ticket and instructs you to keep your online ticket to present to the bus driver for the return journey.”


Maguire says that “all of the above is an annoying development, especially from a state- owned company – but I can accept this.”

His frustration really began was when he was on the return journey.

“I went to the bus station in Monaghan and presented my ticket to the driver. Unfortunately I had mistakenly selected a week later for my return journey, so he couldn’t issue me a ticket. I hadn’t the cash to pay for a new ticket, so I had to let the bus go.

“This was my fault, and I accepted that I would have to go online and pay whatever Ryanair-style fee necessary to change my ticket.

“I visited the website to change my journey,” Maguire relates, “and entered my order number as asked. Maddeningly, I was informed that my journey had ‘expired’. It seems as if Bus Éireann only lets you change your itinerary before you embark on the outward journey. So I was forced to spend another €18 on a single ticket to Dublin on top of the €30 I had already spent.

“I phoned customer care and spoke to a guy who didn’t even attempt to address my query, simply instructing me to put it into an email and address it to customer care. I received an automated response to my email but nothing since.”

That sounds mad to us. Surely our reader could have been allowed on the homeward bound bus? It would hardly have made any difference to the company as long as he wasn’t taking someone else’s seat? And why could he not amend his return journey date and pay a changing fee instead of being hit with the cost of a new ticket?

We contacted the company, which said it introduced a seat-reservation trial on some routes in July to guarantee seats to customers who book.

A spokeswoman said people who booked seats online were given a 30 per cent discount. Customers using the booking system select two single tickets, with a ticket issued for each separate journey. “This ensures the reserved seat will be held for both trips,” she said.

“There is a €2 amendment fee per booking if a customer wishes to alter the departure time or date. We believe this is a nominal charge considering one can have up to four passengers on a single booking. The Manage Your Booking option for each service on these routes cuts off an hour before departure. This is part of the trial, and all elements of the reservation system will be reviewed once sufficient trial data and feedback is gathered.”

She said that, in this case, it transpired there was an IT issue in terms of amending the outward journey on the day specified. All outward journeys can be amended, but this facility was not functioning on the day. “We apologise to the customer for the inconvenience caused, and his second fare for this will be refunded.”

She said every customer needed a valid ticket for travel. “While there may be free seats on a bus in a certain location, these could be reserved by passengers who are boarding later in the journey. The online reservation is still in its trial period. We appreciate this feedback and hope that your reader’s concerns have been addressed.”

Maguire told us he was happy with Bus Éireann’s response.

Driven barking mad

A reader, Ros, has sent us a query that might be “a little out of your comfort zone. We are driven demented on our road with the behaviour of two dogs,” she says. “A young couple moved here at the beginning of summer, and, like all couples, they go out to work Monday-Friday. However, their dog is left in the yard and barks and cries from the time they leave until they come home.

“We found it annoying not to be able to sit out in the sun or even to leave the windows open. To make it even worse, another dog on the road joins in and competes with him. It is driving us crazy. Who do we complain to? They don’t bark at night, so I presume there is nothing illegal about it, just a nuisance.”

It could be illegal, as it happens. According to the law, excessive dog barking that causes a nuisance is an offence. Ros could go to the District Court, which could make an order requiring the reduction of excessive barking by a dog, although that seems a bit extreme.

Before she could make such a complaint to a District Court, she would have to tell the dog owner of her plan and complete a form under the Control of Dogs Act, 1986. She can get such a form from her local authority.

The best approach might well be gentler, however. Maybe if she calls into the neighbours and tells them the dog is distressed, it might make a difference. For a start, maybe they could allow the pet into the house during the day instead of forcing it out into the garden.

Another option would be to bypass the neighbours and make friends with the dog. It sounds like it could do with the company.