When a Good Ride Goes Bad

Posted on January 23, 2009 by LCT Magazine

By Jim A. Luff

I am back here on a weekly basis after a short hiatus.  The darn year end bookkeeping can be a pain in the rear end, and had me held hostage.

I recently read a message from a client of a Southern California limousine company.  The client wanted to expose the antics of this company and was looking for regulatory authority over our industry.


The client claimed that the chauffeur pulled over on the side of the freeway to demand an additional cash payment for overtime and refused to continue driving until he received the money.  I will also note that the client paid cash at the beginning of the ride and the chauffeur stopped to obtain gas using the same money the clients had paid him with.  The client stated there was no air-conditioning in the vehicle.  They were promised balloons and red carpet but neither was delivered.  They claimed the limo was shabby as well.  I was horrified to think that one of my peers could do this.


My initial response to the client was to say, "I bet you went shopping for the best bargain".  I also said,  “I bet you booked the cheapest, least expensive, economical, bargain-basement price. I am sure that you never once asked for a referral from someone in the know like a wedding coordinator, travel agent, or chamber of commerce. I'm sure you did not check with BBB or any other agency to verify the quality and level of service you could expect.  Let's just summarize with this: You got exactly what you paid for"!

I figured this might be a good article about customer service.  So, I called the owner of the limousine company to get his version.  I was stunned by his responses.  He told me everything the client said was TRUE.  He said they had paid cash and the driver felt since they were going to Beverly Hills for dinner from Orange County that he should buy more gas.  The balloons were accidentally forgotten.  The red carpet was accidentally left behind they day before by another driver so they didn't have one to provide.  There was a little button that the driver didn't know about that would turn the air-conditioner on, and was corrected during the trip.  Since the client had paid cash and incurred an hour and a half of overtime, the owner told the driver to stop and collect it.  The driver complied immediately by pulling over on the freeway shoulder to collect.  The owner had no idea where they were when he directed the driver to pull over so “that was on the driver and he should not have done that”. 

The owner went on to say, he knew this was a new client so he upgraded the vehicle from a standard limo to an Escalade.  He provided Gray Goose vodka and even threw in Red Bull for them!  So, even with the upgrade and extra goodies in the car, excuses and bad training only go so far.  The client told me they will never go back even after he offered eight hours of free service once I got involved. 

Sometimes I am so ashamed of people in our industry.  If they went to dinner at a hole in the wall in Beverly Hills, they probably had enough money to pay for the overtime and if you are that worried about it, don't take a job without a credit card.

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