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Good, Bad or Ugly you decide....
Feb 17, 2007 02:49 PM 5218 Views
(Updated Feb 17, 2007 03:16 PM)

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I have had two experiences with Raj Travels, one bad the other worse

The first time I had travelled by Raj, my friend in Hyderabad had forced me to book tickets from Raj Travels. I was going from Hyderabad to Pune and he was going from Hyderabad to Mumbai. He had heard a lot about it, and he wanted to ‘experience’ it. What we had heard was that you get your own screen(Which we did not think we would get) and you get a socket from which you can charge your laptop, since both of us had laptops he was in the mood to watch a movie while in the bus. Also one good thing about Raj was that we were able to pay via credit card online, we just needed to take this number that they give you and save it some where, no need for a print out and no need to go to their office, just turn up at the place of pickup which would be mentioned after the credit card transaction is complete, they even let you choose where you want to sit. Ofcourse that is if there are a lot many seats left.

So we booked 3 weeks before the chosen date my friend and me were paying 900 and 800 respectively, which is way above the tarrif charged by other bus services, which would have been 750 and 650 respectively. But we were out for the ‘experience’.  So we kept the number and turned up at the pick up point. We had bought our luggage which was weighed by them.

BTW If you have luggage in excess of 20 kgs, for every kg they charge you 20 bucks. I had

not noticed that since my friend had taken care of that while I took the boarding passes for the bus for the both of us, plus both our luggages were well below 20 kg.

We sat in anticipation, we had turned up 15 minutes early. We started watching the TV in the waiting room, which luckily was Air Conditioned, and the time slipped by. 20 minutes later, I went to the counter to the lady who had issued me my boarding pass and I found out our bus was 30 minutes late. Ok I said not such a big deal, we've waited for so long for this trip what’s half an hour, half an hour later another 15 minutes of delay. I was getting irritated. Finally the bus arrive an hour from the time when it was supposed to, we got out luggage into the bus ourselves. And oh let me not forget you are supposed to put tags on the luggage which goes in the boot with the address or atleast the name of the city written on it. Till now everything was neat. Apart from the delay everything was ok, our ‘experience’ was about to begin!

As soon as we got into the bus we noticed a few things, the seats were supposed to be numbered on the back, but most of the numbers had faded or were scratched off probably by customers. We put our on board luggage into the upper compartment, and I went to the  guy who was guiding us to our seats, and asked him for blankets.

‘No blankets sar! At Raj we do not provide blankets’. WTF? Every bus service worth its salt offers its customers a blanket for an overnight travel, why was this bus service an exception? Especially since we had paid so much more… Anyways, I went back to my seat and  looked at my friend who chuckled and said ‘No laptop charging socket’. This just keeps getting better and better. ‘Just chill out and sit down there’ll definitely be an on board movie right?’ Wrong! As we found out when the bus started, the guy in-charge of the bus announced that theDVD was stuck in the DVD player and hence they could not play the movie…. I suddenly felt an urge to bash up the person who had suggested Raj to my naïve friend; did not intend to much, just grab on to his throat and choke him….;-)

So the bus got moving and we compensated for everything using the laptop, and the single iPod between me and my friend. Because I was with my friend I was talking all night and did not need any more entertainment. Then at around 10:30 pm they stop at this desolate place in the middle of NOWHERE! No lights except the one at this miserable place, where the bus was to stop for 20 minutes for food. At this place we got a miserable plate of hakka noodles, and we took one soft drink each, as we did not trust the water at the place. 20 minutes later we got back on the bus where we were literally freezing to death! I staid up the entire night since it was so cold. When I asked the guy to adjust the a/c he just nodded his head and did nothing… Reached Pune the next morning 1.5 hrs late. But I was glad to be home after such a bad ride. My friend and I vowed never to go with Raj Travels again, but then I did not know what fate had in store for me….

A few months later when I was in Hyderabad I needed to urgently leave Hyderabad for Pune Lock, Stock and Barrel. So I looked for Railway bookings and all other bus operators and no one had a seat. Then after all other hope was over I turned to Raj Travels. I called them up and requested them to book the last seat for me, but they told me that I needed to come to their office since only one seat was empty and they would not block it on the phone.(Excellent courtesy towards customers don’t you think!) I hurriedly called up my father and asked him to book a seat for me which he did and he paid the 750 bucks, and gave me the number which I saved.

Since my previous experience I was expecting an average ‘experience’ at Raj, but boy was I wrong! Since I was moving Lock, Stock and Barrel my luggage weighed around 58 kgs. When I reached the pick up point, I realized what I had not last time, that I had to pay for luggage in excess of 20kgs at Rs. 20 per Kg! I ended up paying 760 just for the luggage! At which point I tried to remember a single instance when I had traveled by bus and my luggage was weighed, and I did not remember a single such instance. The best part was I did not have that much money on me! Hence I had to go to the nearest SBI ATM, which was closed, but a nearby SBI ATM was open, so I went there where I found a long line, where I stood patiently and extracted my money. I was thanking my stars I had reached early and found out about this. When I finally reached the pick up point again, the lady at the counter said‘Sar the bus is 1 hr late’ and I did not know whether to thank my luck, or tear my hear off my head…. Anyways, got on the bus again no on board movie, no blanket. To make things worse the guy beamed at me and said ‘Sar we are offering blankets from tomorrow sar!’ Now why would I want to know that? As if this was not bad enough at around 2 am we were told to alight from the bus, since the bus we were in did not have its paper work in order to enter Maharashtra. WTF? Why did they put me on the bus in that case? They got us off the bus and into another, they did not even help to shift the luggage, I had to shift all 58 kgs luggage and put it in the other bus, all this when I had paid for the luggage seperately! Grrrrrr! This delayed them by 3 hours, and hence we reached a good 3 hrs after we were supposed to.

I don’t know whether to call my experience as a disappointment or a disaster. But I would definitely not recommend this service to you. The price is too high, and what you get is far from commensurate. But I will leave you to be the judge, and decide whether this service is Good, Bad or Ugly.

Please do comment.:-)

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Raj Travels and Tours - Mumbai