After a conversation with someone, I just remembered something that I experienced a few years ago.
In 2013 I visited some friends in the U.S. having lived in Florida a few years before, I usually visit every couple of years doing a little tour through the States where friends are scattered all over. I traveled mainly on the East Coast and going mostly by coach, train and car. I flew into JFK, stayed a night, then took a coach to New Jersey to visit friends for a few days. After that I took a train to Virginia for another set of friends and another train back to NYC for a couple more days by myself, seeing some favourite bands and music events that happened to play while I was there. I then took another bus to my favourite City in the U.S., Philadelphia, stayed a couple of days, and ended my U.S. “tour” by flying out to North Dakota for another set of friends before returning back to London.
I meticulously planned my trip from London, booked almost all tickets, hotels where I stayed alone in parts of the journey. I booked almost all train and bus tickets, where I was able to book online. I researched on cultural events and bands that I love who rarely play in Europe, and even found one of my favourite bands Over The Rhine due to play in NYC just when I planned my trip there! Perfect! I even managed to book a helicopter ride over NYC. I booked almost every journey, accommodation where needed, and cultural events. I only needed spending money and whatever else came up with trips I couldn’t book from London or anything spontaneous I decided to do. So, I was able to plan my trip around some of the events as well as how my friends where at home in their states / towns.
The only ticket I couldn’t book from London was the bus ride from NYC to Jew Jersey. As I had most all other things booked and paid for I didn’t worry and just planned to go straight to the coach station and buy a bus fare right then and there. I already did my homework from London on which station to go to, and as I visited NYC before, I knew roughly where to stay over night and just book accommodation in walking distance from Port Authority Bus Terminal.
So, at the second day of the trip I did exactly that. I took a nice little walk from the hotel to the Terminal, found the right bus pretty fast and started to book a one-way ticket to Atlantic City which my friends recommended me to book to, as they would pick me up from there living about one hour away.
A one way fare would have been $20 which is super cheap for a roughly 2 – 3 hour ride. I can’t remember exactly how long it took. But for some reason the salesperson at the desk would not let me book a one-way ticket and insisted that this journey can only be booked as a return ticket and that I would get my return fare back on the other side. I had a little debate as this didn’t make sense. Why should I pay $40 if I planned to only do a one-way journey? What I didn’t tell the clerk was that I did indeed plan to return to NYC about two weeks later, but wanted to take the train as I would be coming from Virginia. The one-way Amtrak journey, which I also already booked while still in London as I planned to catch the Over The Rhine concert, takes 8 hours from Blacksburg, VA to NYC. With a bus it would have been longer and much more uncomfortable. The back and forth seems complicated, but I had to book also according to how my friends were available. And as I don’t mind train journeys and traveling in general, the zik-zaking was okay for me as this also relaxes me as long as no rush is involved. And this trip was perfect in timing from beginning to end.
But I wanted to spare all the details and just wanted a blinking ONE-WAY ticket from New York City to flipping Atlantic City! Capiche?! Nopes! She wouldn’t have it. She insisted that they ONLY sell return tickets and that passengers WILL get the return fare back in Atlantic City. Annoyed, and yet needing to take the next coach as my friends would be at the other side in a few hours to pick me up, I paid the fare and soon after left for Atlantic City.
Hours later I arrived in Atlantic City in a parking area. I texted my friends roughly 30 minutes beforehand that my coach was approaching the city, and when the bus turned into the parking area they texted back that they were also already waiting on another parking lot nearby. Fantastic, I can just grab my luggage, get my return fare back and off we go.
I asked the bus driver to reimburse me my return fare that I didn’t need, but he directed me with my paper ticket into a building. Now guess what building it was? Yep, it was the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino! I go in, and by now quite agitated, and was directed to an automate and thought ok, finally I can put the ticket in and get my $20 back.
Instead of my money, a credit-card sized plastic card dropped out of the machine! By now I’m really p*ssed off! A security guard who was standing nearby, observing my frantic aim to figure out how to get my money back, chuckled and asked me where I was from as my accent gave me away again! The mix of British English with a German tone can never have me go under cover! He happened to speak some decent German as he used to be stationed with the U.S. military in Germany in the 80s. Amused, but still helpful, he pointed me where I needed to go to the cashier place to get my money back.
So, I walked through the CASINO and a maze of slot machines, but instead of coins you just needed to use your plastic card, in my case that was loaded with MY $20. Aaaahhh, now the plastic penny dropped!
Luring passengers travelling from New York and other places into the Casino for you to get tempted to use your card (your already purchased return fare that you didn’t need!) to spend it in Trump’s casino. On the initial bus fare purchase in NYC I was very naïve why all this happened. Now it all made “cents”!
By now I am really outraged, as the audacity of trying to use my money but being forced to “lend” it to them before getting it back, for me to only be tempted to leave it at the casino, and worse even to get into gambling!
Now, I don’t gamble and am not tempted at all to use any of the machines or tables, and I don’t know anyone in my circles who does and would support anyone who struggles with gambling without judgment. But apart from the waste of time debating with the sales person in New York to have to pay a double fare, and then trying to get MY money back with my friends waiting outside in the parking lot who already drove for an hour to pick me up, I was unsettled by the lure they use to FORCE you to go through the casino. If I was a person with a gambling addiction, be it active or recovering, this could have pulled me right back in. This “evil”, and I call it evil, so outraged me that I ranted in the car to my friends almost all the journey to their house!
The length these greedy hordes go through to get you to spend your hard-earned money felt like an old-school Nintendo Mario game. You purchase a one-way ticket but are forced to get a return ticket. Then the bus driver who can’t give you the money sends you into the Casino. There you somehow need to find an automate where instead of your money, you get a plastic card as they didn’t allow to get the money via the paper ticket, you NEED the plastic card, which serves like a chip for card games or roulette! With this card you then have to go through the Casino surrounded by slot machines, just like passengers in airports are lured through the luxury items of the duty-free section to reach their gates… It takes a long journey through the colourful and warm atmosphere of the slot machine area, drizzled on with soft music and a sweet smell in the air, before you find the cashier booth to finally exchange the card with your money! At least FOUR levels from purchasing the ticket to getting back your money and in-between trap after trap after trap after trap…
I should have complained to the NYC bus company or whoever is responsible regarding the ticketing for wasting my time and trying to lure customers to gamble. And of course Trump being a king in New York, he must have made many dodgy deals like this. But it’s incredible what length they go through not only to pull money out of your pocket, but what made me even more angry is, that they want people to get or remain hooked to gambling. I felt for gamblers who try to stay away from these destructive businesses that destroy lives. A recovering gambling addict could have fallen straight into their trap, and the only thing that person did was just to buy a BUS FARE!! That is the audacious and sneaky Trump trap and the money hungry deals between companies!
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