On Vacation Part 3: Poor Limo Service

Posted on July 13, 2010 by - Also by this author

As an operator, I can be critical and spot all chauffeured errors, but this company really needs to read LCT Magazine and get a clue.
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif.Over the last few LCT blog columns, I have l discussed various service levels I experienced while on vacation and how they relate to delivering excellent customer service in our industry. Building on my vacation series last year, this “second season” has covered the hotel experience, restaurants, and now our limousine experience.
The decision to take a limousine for some excursions was based partially on the fact that we wanted to enjoy fine wine with our dining experiences and also to learn how other limousine services operate in an attempt to improve my own delivery of service to our clients.
Regretfully, I experienced the things that you should never do and my biggest lesson learned was to pay attention to what my own chauffeurs might be doing, saying, and failing at. Given the fact that I used the same company two nights in a row, there was no mistake that there is plenty of room for improvement. Remember, my plan wass to experience limousine service from the customer point of view.
That said, my pickup was scheduled in advance at the Hyatt Huntington Beach days ahead of time. I suppose I should have seen the problem when I provided all the information to the company including my e-mail address for a confirmation and no confirmation came. I called the company to inquire about it and was treated as if I was out of line for asking for a written confirmation when the agent said, “We discussed all your information by phone.”
I arrived at the hotel’s porte’ couchere, expecting to see the limousine to be waiting for us. None was in sight. This was a bad sign since we had guests to pickup and guests with us at the hotel. Needless to say, I was embarrassed when there was no limousine there when we walked outside 15 minutes late. This gave the chauffeur a 15-minute grace period to be late. I had called the company in advance to let them know we were running late. They provided me with the chauffeur’s cell phone number just in case I needed to contact him for any reason. Thank goodness they did so as I had to call and ask where the heck he was. He advised the hotel valet staff had asked him to move and he was not allowed to wait for us at the front door of the hotel. He stated he was “right around the corner.” The response time would indicate he was further away than “just around the corner.”
I later spoke to the valet staff to tell them I would be expecting a limousine the following night and as a guest of the hotel I would appreciate it if they did not run my limo off again. I was told they would have asked the chauffeur for my last name and rang my room and they would never have run him off knowing it was for a hotel guest.
The chauffeur was dressed casually with shirt tails out, no tie, and looking pretty casual for my formal night out with guests. I told the chauffeur that we would be having dinner and expected to be at least two hours in the restaurant so if he wanted to go get a bite to eat and return back he was more than welcome to do so. With that offer, he asked me to call him about half an hour before we were ready to leave and he would come back for us. He stressed that he needed the lead time to get back to Huntington Beach from his home base in Long Beach. No one said anything about driving back to the home base. I suggested he go get a quick dinner.
The service delivered the following night was not anything better and the second chauffeur repeated many of the same mistakes. This leads me to believe those mistakes are not considered mistakes to this company but a normal way of operating. It was disappointing to say the least and made me thankful I am aware of and abide by the standards that I do.

— Jim Luff, LCT Contributing Editor

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