When O.T. Begins With No Credit Card On File

Posted on July 21, 2009 by - Also by this author

FOR LIMO CLIENTS, CREDIT IS BETTER THAN CASH: There are three types of clients: Corporate clients; well-to-do cards with Gold Amex cards; and cash customers. The cash customers are always retail. Maybe they don’t have a credit card because they went bankrupt. Maybe they don’t believe in them. Maybe they just don’t want to use it. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you want to look at it, these are the same people that want to charter your 20-passenger Excursion limousine or your 30-passenger limo bus that commands about $200 per hour. 
Oh, of course they want it for four hours so you stand to take in $800 in cold, hard, green cash. Now, if there is any damage to the vehicle after-the-fact, then what? If they run into overtime and refuse to pay, then what? If you ask for a security deposit on top of the $800 fee, they may not have it and there goes your nice little $800 ride. Then again, Joe across town was only $50 higher than your price and he won’t hassle them for a security deposit. So again, there goes your client and he will spend $50 more with Joe but doesn’t have the $250 deposit we tried to shake him down for.
This past Saturday we had a job that was to last from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. We had 22 kids onboard ranging in age from 10 to 16. No adult supervision. We left the church and were told to cruise for an hour before delivering the kids to a rental hall in the middle of nowhere. I am talking the middle of an oilfield, literally.
When we arrive, there is no shade anywhere. The temperature outside is 108 degrees. The building is locked and no adults are around. The chauffeur must make a decision. It is 2 p.m. He decides he cannot leave them here with no shade, no phone, and no access to the building or restroom facilities. He calls the parents. They are running late. They say they will be there in 15 minutes. More people arrive for the party, but since the building is locked, they too get on the bus to enjoy the air conditioning and visit with relatives. Fifteen minutes turns into 45 minutes.
Of course the people don’t believe they should have to pay another $200 because the chauffeur could have just left them there. In their opinion, he waited on his own. Maybe we had a legal obligation to protect the kids. Maybe it was more of a moral decision. Either way, I support the chauffeur’s decision and of course must pay him for another hour of his time without revenue to cover it so it comes right off the bottom line.
There is no credit card to charge. There is no belief that if I sent them a bill that they would pay it. Small Claims Court would cost about $50 for filing fees and process serving. My time to appear in court would take about an hour to sit through other cases adding another $50 (on the conservative side of value) so I am out $100 out of the gate.
What would you have done?

— Jim Luff, LCT Contributing Editor

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