Suburban Express Changes Terms Of Service To Screw Sued College Students Out Of University-Provided Legal Aid

from the as-of-2015,-SE-will-be-fucking-you-in-a-new-location dept

Dennis Toeppen of Suburban Express is still deploying his highly-peculiar brand of “customer service” — something that includes doxxing unhappy customers, suing unhappy customers, suing unhappy customers, suing unhappy customers and being arrested for “harassment through electronic communications.”

Nothing has changed. Toeppen is still a lawsuit fan who believes negative reviewers or anyone who doesn’t fully appreciate how hard it is to run a shuttle bus service should be forced to pay $500 (at least) in “liquidated damages.” Now, he’s looking to pave himself a downhill slope for his future lawsuit filing. Techdirt reader Kionae sends over this article from the University of Illinois’ campus newspaper which contains a small detail that shows just how far Toeppen is willing to go to get his $500.

Suburban Express recently changed its “Terms & Conditions” so any legal action arising on the online transaction of tickets should take place in Ford County, roughly 30 miles north of Champaign.

In a statement on its website, the company said it chose Ford County “because of high availability of court dates, efficient court operation, excellent staff work ethic, low costs for both parties, easy parking, and other factors.”

This has nothing to do with “efficient court operations” and has everything to do with making it economically unfeasible for sued college students to fight back. Taking the action 30 miles away strips students of the following protection:

According to the Student Legal Services Operational Plan, Student Legal Services can only represent eligible students who have cases in or originating in Champaign County.

Toeppen’s change of venue is carefully calculated to extract the most money/misery from the situation. That situation, of course, is Toeppen’s inability to run a business and field criticism at the same time. In Toeppen’s defense, he’ll say he’s never wrong and it’s these spoiled brat students with overactive mouths who are to blame. (What? Did you think I was going to half-heartedly defend any aspect of Toeppen’s behavior?)

With students forced to pay for their own defense against Toeppen’s frivolous, vindictive lawsuits, the needle moves towards a higher default judgment rate. That’s what Toeppen wants, considering his legal arguments are mostly indefensible. This should see his lawsuit-filing rate approaching the stratospheric highs of 2012-13, a two-year span in which Suburban Express filed 126 lawsuits. Toeppen is misusing the judicial system. Hopefully, the judges there will recognize his venue-shifting for what it is and push cases back to the proper courts.

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: suburban express

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Suburban Express Changes Terms Of Service To Screw Sued College Students Out Of University-Provided Legal Aid”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
That One Guy (profile) says:

Unless they legally cannot offer legal/financial aid to students outside that limited area, I think it would be nice, and ever so funny, if they added a ‘Toeppen clause’, where the rules regarding aid are waived with regards to lawsuits filed by him, given how blatant his move is to make sure the students can’t avail themselves of aid from the school.

eaving (profile) says:

Re: Re: Sounds like this guy needs more competition

Ive seen responses to this question on articles over on Ars. They give two, Ill add a third
1 He only has one real competitor who runs far fewer buses.
2 Hes cheaper than said competitor.
3 As his many customers are college students he’ll have a constant flow of new victims that don’t know the company is run by an asshat.

Nina Paley (profile) says:

Re: Sounds like this guy needs more competition

Sadly, Illini Shuttle/Suburban Express is the only game in town. I need to get to ORD for a speaking trip later this month and am trying to explain to the university sponsoring me that no way, no how will I use Suburban Express to get there. I’m going to try taking Amtrak to a southern Chicago suburb and then a (more expensive) cab from there. It would be nice if there were a decent bus to ORD from Chambana, since so many people need to go there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Sounds like this guy needs more competition

Former UIUC student here.

There’s actually an Amtrak station in Champaign (station code CHM). Amtrak runs 3 trains a day from Chicago (CHI) to there.

There’s also University of Illinois Willard Airport (airport code CMI) about 10 miles south of campus. It gets a few American Eagle flights from O’hare daily.

Kionae (profile) says:

Re: Sounds like this guy needs more competition

Well for one, his main competitor (Illini Tours, formerly Lincolnland Express) has their own problems. They’re also higher in price and run fewer buses.

Interesting tidbit… Suburban Express has a lovely smear campaign page dedicated to them:

For another, this is a company that caters almost exclusively to college students. There are thousands of new ones every year, most of whom have never heard of any of these lawsuits.

David says:

There needs to be more awareness of this

Since he’s suing unhappy customers, perhaps some unbiased reporting needs to be done. Like a thermometer style display showing “Suburban Express Lawsuits against Students – 2015”. or simple signs that just say “Google Suburban Express Lawsuits”. Conveniently placed near bus stops, the Student Union, Admissions Building, Dorm Lobbies, Cafeterias, etc.

Come on guys, crowd-fund this thing. Encourage the Freshmen to do a little due diligence.

Anonymous Coward says:

All systems normal...

A co-worker bitches about Comcast almost weekly. Sometimes it’s about their bill and others it’s about the insane amount of ads they are forced to watch or the lack of good programming. Whatever the case, they really seem to dislike Comcast. Strangely, they backtrack and defend Comcast whenever I suggest they cut the cord. They act as if they have no choice in the matter; they are somehow forced to tolerate shitty, sub-par service.

Like Comcast, Suburban Express is just one of MANY companies that piss all over their customers and manage to remain in business. Meaningful change cannot happen until we, the customers, decide to force one of these assholes out of business by NOT BUYING ANYTHING FROM THEM UNTIL THEY ARE BANKRUPT.

I’d suggest voting with your wallets but nobody ever does so, meh, fuck it…

Dan G Difino says:

ToS are BS

Terms of Service are bullshit one-sided delivered up to internet surfers who have the same equal right to access the internet as these people who start these web sites. Terms of service are not contractual unless both parties agree to be bound by it and fully understand all stipulations which are usually written by lawyers and even under normal circumstances need to be deciphered by lawyers who understand the lawyerspeak and legal jargon within those ToS. Never will the ToS say that you should hire a lawyer to decipher the ToS. That should render them neutered.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...