Woman allegedly suffers dozens of bedbugs bites during coach ride from KL to Singapore

Lee Min Kok
The Straits Times

Wed, Dec 28, 2016

A woman who travelled by coach from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore allegedly suffered dozens of bedbug bites that left her itching all over her body.

Administrative executive Natalie Yap, 29, wrote on Facebook detailing her unpleasant experience onboard Starmart Express' "first class massage coach" on Monday (Dec 26), and demanded that the company provide a full refund for her trip and medical expenses.

The Singapore permanent resident, who was in the Malaysian capital for the Christmas holidays, also uploaded photos of her bites and the bedbugs in the Facebook post, which went viral with close to 9,000 shares.

Mr Ravindran, an assistant manager at Starmart Express' Singapore office, told The Straits Times over the phone that the company was investigating. 

He added that the bus in question has since been taken off service.

"I would like to state my utter disappointment on this unpleasant journey that caused me to be mentally and physically exhausted after enduring the long hours of bugs biting," Ms Yap wrote.

Speaking to The Straits Times on Wednesday (Dec 28), Ms Yap said she and 26 other passengers had boarded the bus near Kuala Lumpur's Berjaya Times Square at around 4pm on Monday.

She fell asleep almost immediately, but woke up an hour later as her whole body was itching. To her horror, she discovered bedbugs on her seat and clothes.

Ms Yap then approached the bus driver to request to change buses, but was told there were no available ones due to the hectic festive schedule.

"He refused to admit there were bedbugs on the bus and implied that it was because my clothes were dirty. He also told me that if there were really any bedbugs, why was I the only one complaining while the rest of the passengers kept quiet," said Ms Yap, who paid about $70 ticket for a return ticket.

She said that she subsequently moved to a seat near the front of the bus that had no seatbelt, and was forced to endure an uncomfortable ride for the next four hours until the bus reached a rest stop.

It was there when she discovered that almost all the other passengers were also suffering from bedbug bites.

Mr Ravindran told The Straits Times that the company has so far received four complaints about the incident.

He also stressed that customer complaints about bedbugs were uncommon.

"We are investigating and will decide if we should give refunds to the affected passengers who filed complaints with us," said Mr Ravindran. "The problem could have arisen because of a passenger's belongings."

The bus arrived in Singapore at about 1am on Tuesday. Ms Yap estimated that she suffered more than 30 bites on her arms, legs and upper body. She paid $64 to see a doctor, who gave her anti-itch medicine and cream.

Ms Yap, who travels to Malaysia about once a month, said it was the last time she would be taking Starmart Express after her second bad experience with the company.

Last year, a Starmart Express bus she was on broke down several times, delaying her journey for hours.

She added: "I initially posted the bedbugs complaint on Starmart's Facebook page, but they took it down. So I put it up on my page to warn my friends; I didn't expect it to spread so fast.

"After it went viral, other Starmart passengers also told me of their experiences with bedbugs on their buses."

According to its website, Starmart Express specialises in long distance express bus services between Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

The Straits Times

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