Save Yourself: Never Use Suburban Express

Many students at the University of Illinois come from the Chicagoland area, myself included. There are many ways us Chicagoans and Suburbanites get back home from Champaign-Urbana. Typically, I catch a ride with a friend and keep it simple. This past week, however, I needed to get home suddenly for medical reasons. Though I generally avoid Suburban Express, it was seemingly my best time-sensitive option. I bought a ticket for Suburban Express bus 1400, expected to arrive at Altgeld Hall at 2:05 p.m. on Thursday, January 31st. Needless to say, it never came. The situation grew worse from there.

My experience, detailed below, is like many others. The company owner, Dennis Toeppen, has notoriously mistreated his customers. I have made it my consequent ambition to spread the word and ensure that no student or community member ever face the cruelties of this business again.

On the night of Wednesday, January 30th, I received an email stating that bus 1200 was canceled and that these riders would be reimbursed. It then stated that the 1600 bus was still operational. My bus was 1400. I assumed it was still running since there was no statement of reimbursement in the email for this bus.

At 1:55 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, I waited outside of Altgeld Hall for the bus as 5 other students joined me. For 35 minutes we waited outside in 8-degree weather as it snowed. I personally waited an additional hour inside of Altgeld Hall peeking out the door in case the bus may have come.

I tried emailing, calling and messaging the company on Facebook regarding the status of bus 1400. All were inconclusive. There is no existing way to contact Suburban Express outside of a P.O. box.

After waiting until 3 pm for a bus that was supposed to arrive at 2:05 p.m., I decided I should try to take the 4:30 p.m. 1600 bus since my bus randomly never came and I truly needed to get home. Despite waiting for over three total hours, I was denied access to take the 4:30 p.m. Suburban Express home, but the unprofessionalism and blatant negligence of this business did not end there.

The owner of the business, Toeppen, took my ticket and I began to explain my situation extremely politely given the three-hour wait. I told him I was never contacted regarding the 1400 bus. Speaking over me, he said “You are not getting on this bus - I sent an email.” I sternly responded that there were six of us waiting for a 2:05 p.m. bus that never arrived at Altgeld Hall and that he emailed about a different bus.

He ignored me and blockaded me from getting on bus 1600. I then called my dad as a possible voice of reason. I told the owner of this business that my father wanted to speak to him.

He took my phone away and ignored my father as he spoke by putting my phone by his side while closing the luggage areas. I ran to grab mine from the compartment. Toeppen then waved for the bus to depart, and began walking away with my phone still in hand. I grabbed my luggage and hustled after him to get my phone back. I told him, as he still ignored me, “Sir, if you are going to ignore me then I expect you give me back my phone!”

He then, still ignoring me, put my phone on the ground under a bush and jaywalked/ran across the street from me.

It does not end there. After mistreating me, Toeppen realized I had been correct. He then had the audacity to email an imbecilic and ingenuine apology offering reimbursement and coupons. This did not change the fact that I was abandoned on his mistake, which he failed to acknowledge until after leaving me behind.

My family had to drive over three hours in horrible conditions to pick me up so I could make my doctor’s appointment. We did not make it home until 1 a.m. Who was going to reimburse them for their trouble and their time?

Believe it or not, the unfathomable unprofessionalism does not end there. Toeppen sent two emails Friday night. He sent one to a student who had waited with me, referring to her as a “bitch” in the email and banning her from using Suburban Express by accident. That email was meant for me. He then realized he had sent this email to the wrong person, and proceeded to email me, banning me from Suburban Express and referring to me as a “spoiled little psychopath.” Both of these emails can be seen in the WCIA report from February 5th. The vulgarity displayed in these emails embodies the harassment many customers have faced.

Toeppen has been arrested for cyber-stalking. He has pending cases with the Illinois Attorney General pertaining to flagrant violations of civil rights and consumer protections. I have sent two reports to the Attorney General myself since these events transpired, and I can only hope they supplement the many others.

This, undeniably, is no way to treat anyone, especially not paying customers.

If you are looking to go home for a weekend, for your own sake, never take Suburban Express. I bought a ticket in a moment of absolute need and it took me nowhere, literally. I have since had my eyes opened to the genuinely heinous actions this business and its owner endlessly perpetuate. If you need to get home, feel free to check out the UIUC Rideshare Page, Peoria Charter, Amtrak, and if none of those options work - I can tell you with the utmost confidence that I would rather ride my bicycle back home than ever use Suburban Express again. At least my bike will actually take me home.

 

Photos 1 & 3 by Bridgette Jasinski I  Photo 2