So I haven’t finished my story about my last visa run, but here’s part of the story…
I found out that one can’t buy a bus ticket prior to the date you are leaving.
Like almost all of Panama, they like to make things difficult, so they actually expect you to waste time & money going to the bus station to buy your ticket the morning of your departure even if you are leaving later in the day. I didn’t know this & I was at the Albrook bus station on Thursday & wanted to leave on Sunday night which is the busiest day of the week for bus trips to David. They said that I probably wouldn’t get a seat if I came the night of.
Anyway, after arguing with the girl behind the counter about the bus going to the Frontera (border, meaning it takes you across into Costa Rica), I gave up & went to the booth that sells tickets going just to David. Then I would have to take a coster bus to the Frontera to get into Costa Rica.
She argued with us too, but eventually sold me the ticket.
Both trips were a nightmare for me, but this post is about the trip back.
The bus blew a tire & left everyone sitting in the middle of the night stranded while they attempted to fix the tire in pitch blackness with handheld flashlights. Obviously they didn’t know what the hell they were doing I mean come on, those tires are HUGE.
After an hour of waiting because I didn’t even know what was going on, another expat & I went to find out what was going on. She spoke Spanish.
They had not called for a bus to come pick us up & I was very agitated. Who knows how long it would take for them to fix the tire if ever & I can’t stand the long bus rides, the seats are uncomfortable & the bathrooms are hell.
She had to catch a plane back to the UK, so she was very agitated as well.
I tried flag a car or bus down, but there were little to no vehicles going in that direction at 4:30 am.
I was also pissed because the bathroom in the bus had NO light & smelled of urine. I won’t go into details as to what happened when I forced myself to go with just the dim light of my cell phone. Just use your imagination. And remember there’s NO toilet paper.
I also remembered that other expats have complained about no lights in the bathroom before, so clearly it wasn’t just this bus.
Finally I flagged down another bus who said they would take us. Of course we had to pay them.
Fast forward to now, I tried to get my money back for my ticket at Albrook & they didn’t want to pay me the full amount or even close to it, so I said I was going to go to Acadeco. They of course didn’t care.
I went to Acadeco a few days ago & the rep tried to talk to them, but they ONLY wanted to give me $6 out of the $18.50 I paid for the ticket. Not to mention it wasn’t an express bus like I paid for & the same problem happened on the way to David, it wasn’t an express bus even though I paid for the express bus. They lied to him & told him that the bus driver asked everyone if they had a problem with it not being express. I mean really, I wasn’t standing in line, but still, do you think he actually asked everyone & people said NO we want express? Remember, Panamanians don’t complain.
I said the lowest I will take is $12. He tried to convince them to give me the $12 & she wouldn’t, so now we have to go to court just to get a measly $18.50 because this bus company couldn’t give 2 shits about stranding passengers, people being late, or people having to pay double to get home. They don’t care about the money they will have to spend fighting this. Again, it takes brains to figure this out.
I guess this is what it means when they say there’s NO customer service in Panama. And again, these companies get away with it because the locals don’t complain.