Help! Megabus Canceled My Trip But Won’t Refund the Booking Fee.

Dear Tripped Up,

On Oct. 3, 2022, I reserved a seat in a Megabus coach for the busy Sunday after Thanksgiving to return to Boston after visiting family in Philadelphia. With a $3.99 booking fee, the total came to $53.98. On Oct. 26, I received an email from Megabus canceling the trip “due to a schedule alteration,” and promising a refund. But I only received $49.99. I wrote every few months demanding my $3.99 back, receiving no response until nearly a year later, when an agent named Danielle wrote back to explain that the service fee was nonrefundable. I understand why a company would keep a fee if I had canceled or rebooked, but this was their decision. Can you help? Gabriel, Boston

Dear Gabriel,

This may be small potatoes compared to typical Tripped Up fare, but no one likes getting nickeled and dimed and $3.99-ed with fees that seem arbitrarily designed to pad companies’ bottom lines. In this maddening case, you didn’t even get the service you paid for and still paid the service fee. Considering the effort you put into this sub-$4 quest, I suspect you care more about the principle than the money.

When I reached out to Megabus, Meghan O’Hare, a spokeswoman for Megabus and its parent company, Coach USA, was unwilling to discuss your request or return the service fee. “Unfortunately, we do not comment on the details of interactions with customers,” she wrote in an email.

Luckily, we have the details, thanks to the mostly one-way email string you forwarded to me. After you sent four emails between November 2022 and September 2023, you finally received a response from Megabus on Sept. 22, one day after you threatened “to file a formal complaint” with the U.S. Department of Transportation. (Good move!)

“The $3.99 booking fee is a nonrefundable charge that is associated with completing a booking that you agreed to by accepting our terms and conditions on our website,” wrote Danielle, a member of the customer-support team. “Unfortunately, that amount won’t be added when totaling the value toward refunds.”

When I wrote back to Ms. O’Hare to confirm this was company policy and to ask what the service fee actually went toward, she did not respond.

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