Peter Pan Bus Lines, which continues to operate joint services with Greyhound in the Northeast, this week sued its larger partner, alleging the bus giant has become a Captain Hook that is trying to screw it out of commissions, in part through a barely functioning ticketing Web site.
In its lawsuit, filed this week in US District Court in Boston, Peter Pan says that in recent years, Greyhound has even refused to pay commissions on the increasingly lucrative sale of tickets that are bought online, then never actually used.
Peter Pan alleges Greyhound tried to force it to drop its own ticketing system for a Greyhound one that never worked right and connived to get Peter Pan to subsidize the salaries of Greyhound workers who mostly didn't work on any routes Peter Pan was involved in.
The two companies once were direct competitors on inter-city bus routes in the Northeast, but after a ruinous price war in the 1990s, the two set up a "pool" to jointly run bus service in the region, specifically on routes between Boston, New York and Washington.
All went well until a few years ago, Peter Pan charges, when Greyhound tried to force Peter Pan to turn off its own online ticketing site and move to Greyhound's, even though Greyhound's system initially couldn't track Peter Pan sales, which meant a potential loss of commissions for the Springfield-based company.
The suit alleges Peter Pan tried several times redirecting customers to the Greyhound site:
Once again, the parties attempted to launch the web site on July 24, 2012. By July 26, Peter Pan's information center reported that people could not open the schedules and fares web page. Performance was terrible and tests indicated that Greyhound's system was not responding to Peter Pan's requests in a timely fashion. Once again, Peter Pan was forced to return to its old website on July 26, 2012. 95.
After months of further delays, technical difficulties, and failed attempts, Web Services went live again on February 13, 2013. It operated, with significant difficulty and customer complaints, until the parties decided to revert back to the old system on March 22, 2013 due to the service issues.
Then, Peter Pan continues, Greyhound simply stopped paying commissions on Web-based ticket sales.
Peter Pan also charges that Greyhound has never paid Peter Pan commissions on sales of tickets that are then never used. The company charges that such sales, mainly done online, could account for up to 2.9% of all ticket sales now.
The company also charges that it agreed to subsidize the salaries of new workers hired to run a joint premium "Express" service but that Greyhound now has many of these workers spending major parts of their day on Greyhound-specific business.
The suit does not specify an exact amount of damages sought, except that they total more than $75,000 - the minimum required for a federal lawsuit.