And Scene: Suburban Express To Shut Down In Mere Months

from the beep-beep dept

To take you back through the entire history since Suburban Express made it onto the Techdirt radar would take more words than I care to spend, but we'll do the short version. Suburban Express runs van lines between Chicago and a couple of local universities. It also, somewhat oddly, regularly goes to war with its own customers, as well as the wider internet. The internet side is mostly well-worn assholery: bitching about review sites, bitching about Reddit, and threatening everyone in between with legal actions. Where the company blazes new trails is when owner Dennis Toeppen gets arrested for harassing critics and customers online, sends out blatantly racist advertisements, and gets itself sued by the Illinois AG for roughly all of the above.

This whole saga of stupid has featured guest spots like government employees, law enforcement officers, and even Ken "Popehat" White. But, as all such sagas go, it had to eventually come to an end. And that end comes in the glorious form of Suburban Express shutting down.

Local bus company Suburban Express shut down all operations Tuesday, according to a court filing from owner Dennis Toeppen posted late in the day.

Suburban Express' website was unreachable Tuesday afternoon except for a refund submission form, as required by the consent decree Toeppen reached last month with the Illinois Attorney General's Office.

Toeppen is also shutting down his other transportation companies, Allerton Charter Coach and Illini Shuttle.

So, what led to this shut down, you may be asking yourself? Did Toeppen grow as a person and realize that he is not the sort of fellow who should be running a business? Is there some plan to shut down and build up something new, something that will be more kind, human, and inclusive?

Nope, this is all about trying to get out of the consent decree the resulted from the Illinois AG lawsuit.

He claimed shutting down his companies should "render most of the consent decree moot," though he also said the $100,000 payment he's required to make to the attorney general as part of the consent decree will be made around May 15.

The AG's office is reviewing how the closures will affect enforcement of the consent decree, spokeswoman Annie Thompson said in a statement.

"Although Mr. Toeppen has informed the court that Suburban Express has ceased operations, the defendants are still obligated to comply with the consent decree," she wrote. "Our office is currently reviewing Mr. Toeppen's filing to determine its impact on the consent decree and Suburban Express customers."

So Toeppen is still playing games that puts him squarely at odds with the AG's office and the public interest. This becomes all the more obvious when we examine Toeppen's comments in the filing itself. In those comments, he makes it clear that he's willing to do everything he can to burn every bridge, and the public good in general, on his way down.

In his filing, Toeppen didn't shy away from taking a parting shot at his competition.

"We have decided not to facilitate or aid in replacement of Champaign-Urbana service," he wrote. "Instead, we prefer to sit on the sidelines and watch as competitor's fares rise, frequency falls, and passenger injuries and fatalities increase."

So, yeah, Toeppen is still going to Toeppen.

In the end, the fact that Suburban Express is shutting down in this way does serve a positive purpose. That purpose would be as a warning for other businesses that want to go on anti-consumer, anti-internet tirades simply due to legitimate complaints about the business itself and the people running it. Thin skin is not an asset in any part of life, but it must certainly be least useful when running a business.

Maybe if Toeppen had bothered treating people like human beings, he and his business wouldn't have ended up in the business gutter.

Filed Under: dennis toeppen
Companies: suburban express


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  1. icon
    FlatZOut (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 7:59pm

    Thin Skin...The Worst Part of an Onion

    Gosh if we had as thin of a skin as onions, I’d be the one crying when we shed that skin. Now I know how the onions feel.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 8:48pm

    Thin skin is not an asset in any part of life, but it must certainly be least useful when running a business.

    Or commenting on the Internet. 😁

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 8:58pm

    Mike Masnick is no moral thought leader.

    He is a proxy for many who have too much to lose by speaking in their own voice.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 9:03pm

    Re:

    [asserts facts not in evidence]

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 9:04pm

    This whole saga of stupid has featured guest spots like government employees, law enforcement officers, and even Ken "Popehat" White.

    Ken White is a foulmouthed irrelevancy only an idiot would listen to.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 9:04pm

    Re: Re:

    Thanks for the feedback, whoever you are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    morganwick (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 9:10pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Says the person without a username to the person with one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 9:26pm

    'Also all soda will be flat and puppies will go blind...'

    "We have decided not to facilitate or aid in replacement of Champaign-Urbana service," he wrote. "Instead, we prefer to sit on the sidelines and watch as competitor's fares rise, frequency falls, and passenger injuries and fatalities increase."

    So because a terrible person is shutting down his shuttle service in an attempt to dodge a consent decree with the AG, other services will have increased injuries and fatalities? I'd wonder what's in his mind such that that makes any sort of sense, but from the few glimpses so far I think I'm better off not knowing what goes on in that head of his.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Pixelation, 13 May 2019 @ 9:29pm

    From the horses mouth

    "I stopped enjoying this business around 2001, and I think it's beginning to show."

    Only took him 18 years to figure that out. I wonder what's next for bussing's Einstein?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 9:38pm

    Re: From the horses mouth

    Playing hide-and-seek with the AG apparently.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    techflaws (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 9:42pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Your welcome, asshat.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 11:02pm

    Re: 'Also all soda will be flat and puppies will go blind...'

    My guess is that he figures that without competition (or one less competitor. I 'm not familiar with the area) the remaining company(ies) will slack of on safety and maintenance of their fleet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    spodula, 14 May 2019 @ 1:50am

    Re: Re: 'Also all soda will be flat and puppies will go blind...

    Its also worth noting that all their competitors smell of poo and wee as well, and at least one of them is a massive poopyhead!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Lord Lidl of Cheem (profile), 14 May 2019 @ 2:33am

    Ironically, probably about the only place where he could get away with that behaviour would be China, maybe he plans to relocate there...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2019 @ 4:54am

    Re: Re: 'Also all soda will be flat and puppies will go blind...

    So with the lack of maintenance, more buses will fall out of the skies?

    Oh, wait...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    JoeCool (profile), 14 May 2019 @ 6:04am

    Re: Re: 'Also all soda will be flat and puppies will go blind...

    Thinking that competition has anything to do with safety in a commercial environment shows he has no understanding of business in general. There are tons of laws and regulations that keep transportation businesses on their toes as regards safety and maintenance. You simply cannot just drive a rolling death trap down the road packed to overflowing with passengers and claim that being the sole source of transport makes you immune to safety regulations. The guy is an idiot as well as an ass.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    FlatZOut (profile), 14 May 2019 @ 6:29am

    Savage

    This is why they need a Savage vote button. I applaud how meta this comment is. Not even I could’ve thought of this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Annonymouse, 14 May 2019 @ 7:26am

    Re: From the horses mouth

    Uhm, that may or may not be a horse but thats definitely not the mouth.....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2019 @ 12:45am

    Re: Re: Re: 'Also all soda will be flat and puppies will go blin

    Seats, brakes, steering....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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