'The Page of Shame' causes concern among some U of I students
The local transit company, Suburban Express, reviews its riders on ‘The Page of Shame’.
According to the Suburban Express website, the page of shame is like a “review site."
On the site, the company reviews riders who they “consider to be bad customers.”
Currently, there are about 50 names on that list. Many of these names belong to University of Illinois students, as the company’s customer base is primarily college students shuttling back and forth from campus to other Midwest towns.
Most of the names on the page appear because the company states those customers gave them a payment which wasn't honored.
Under the ‘Dishonored Payments,’ subheading on the website, it states in part, "Some people might call these folks deadbeats, but we're too polite to do that.”
The accused get their name, phone number, email and address posted on the site.
The same goes for ‘Fare Cheaters’.
University of Illinois sophomore Kevin Thompson is on the list as a ‘fare cheater.’
Along with his name and personal information, the website summarizes his offense. It stated in part, "Passenger used an invalid ticket to ride. Pulled a fast one on us. Banned.”
Thompson said he can explain.
"When he says I'm a fare cheater, that's not exactly true," Thompson said.
According to Thompson, he mistakenly bought his return bus ticket for the wrong weekend.
"It was for the next weekend. So it wasn't the right ticket, but it was the right price," Thompson said.
‘The Page of Shame’ stated the following about Thompson's incident, 'If we recall correctly, loading personnel attempted to remove a passenger from the bus, but the passenger did not come forward when called.”
Thompson recalls the situation differently.
"A bus driver and two employees talked about it and they basically decided I should ride because I wouldn't have been able to use the ticket the next weekend anyway,” Thompson said.
Shortly after, Thompson received a fine in the mail for using an invalid ticket, and his information was posted online. Thompson paid the fine, 'The Page of Shame’ post noted this as well.
Thompson said at first he was concerned about having his information out there.
"I was worried because I didn't want employers to see my name and not want to hire me because it says like don't do business with this person,” Thompson said.
Thursday afternoon, we reached out to Suburban Express for comment and spoke on the phone with a representative from the Urbana office who said they “wouldn't want to comment.”
We asked the request for comment be passed along to a manager and left contact information.
A few hours later, we reached out again, but no one answered.
A Clinical Professor at the University of Illinois, Few Jones, said this can be a learning opportunity for others.
"I would certainly advise that people give out as little personal information as possible,” Jones said.
But this can be hard to avoid, so she recommends doing some research.
"Really carefully read the terms and conditions of sites before you click 'I agree,'" Jones said.
Professor Jones said in cases similar to this, individuals may have the grounds to sue for defamation.
We reached out to the Student Legal Services office at the University of Illinois, but one of the attorneys said they couldn’t comment due to ongoing litigation involving students and Suburban Express.