The 100 CLUB: Inflammatory Fleet Disputes

Posted on August 19, 2009 by LCT Magazine

LARGEST FLEETS ISSUE: By now, LCT's Black Book August issue should have reached most of our subscribers. We know this because we've received the first "complaint eruption" about fleet numbers certain companies report. Think of it as a hallowed annual industry tradition --- the chauffeured transportation version of a FIGHT CLUB! The buzz just works to our benefit.

FLEET WHISPERS: It's interesting how the vast majority of complaints come from listed companies' direct competitors. And how many ask to, SHHHHHH, remain "anonymous."

Before anyone else cites allegedly false fleet numbers, we simply ask that you read p. 19 in the August issue before perusing the list. Some of the past complaints have turned out to be sour grapes, while others are indeterminate, and a handful legitimate. We are making it a policy this year that if an operator or reader alleges false numbers to us about a certain company, then we will inform the target of the complaint of the accusation. It is only fair. It has happened too often that a company has been accused of bogus numbers, and then we find the numbers were right after all. Meanwhile, needless drama and gossip all the way around.

Now for a word on public records of limo/livery permits. We included a few permit lists in the issue this year that we were able to get in time for publication as a supplement to the big picture. But such lists are not always what they seem, which is why LCT has always given more credence to insurance records. Case in point:

Recently, an operator looked up the limo/livery licenses of a company that we had featured in LCT Magazine and found the company had fewer vehicle licenses registered in its CITY of operation than what was reported in the magazine. He then posted this information on a public discussion forum, claiming how LCT is loose with the liars. Upon closer examination, the company actually did have the fleet vehicles it claimed. It turns out that the CITY regulated sedans only and limited registrations to FIVE per operator. Stretches, however, were required to have a STATE registration only, but not city permits. In order to run more than FIVE Town Cars, this operator had a relative form a second company and register FIVE more Town Cars with the city. If you simply looked up this operator's registrations in his city, you would only see FIVE vehicles -- not the stretches registered with the state, and certainly not the other five sedans registered under the name of the relative's company. 

The bottom line is that this company did not APPEAR to have the vehicles it reported, but legally had exclusive 24/7 ACCESS to the fleet total it cited.

Please remember that the Largest Fleets list includes vehicles owned, and/or leased, AND/OR operating exclusively under that company's name.

The above example I cited is particularly unfortunate because a small operator needlessly had his reputation and company name maligned based on an incomplete picture. LCT -- by virtue of being the predominant B2B magazine, digital content provider, and trade show venue in this industry -- routinely gets badmouthed in certain quarters. That just comes with the territory, so we can take it. But it's far worse when that happens to a small, independent business trying to succeed in a recession.

And while I'm on this subject, a few more notables:

  • We had to scramble and remove malicious comments from one of our e-newsletter articles this week about a group of Nashville operators who have formed the Tennessee Limousine Association. We are well aware what certain desperate "competitors" are capable of.
  • I have found the people who are most vehement about dismissing the Largest Fleets list as irrelevant are often the ones who take it the most seriously and complain about the numbers the loudest.

How goes the saying? What one objects to the most, one is drawn to on the sly.

Please proceed carefully.

Martin Romjue, LCT editor

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