One of the problems with the limousine industry is that it’s completely insular. Unless you work inside a limo company, it’s almost impossible to understand how it operates. From the outside it may appear simple, but in reality, many companies use a complicated set of business practices that are inherently dishonest. From hidden surcharges to inflated travel times, it’s really easy to get ripped off. When looking for limo transportation, you should always use due diligence to find reliable and honest companies.
Discounts – If you’re planning to book more than two cars, ask for a discount. Limo rates are set arbitrarily and are variable depending on the time of year/week/day. If you plan to give a service a lot of business, it will be worth your while to negotiate a lower rate.
Ask For A Contract – Make sure you get everything in writing. A contract should include the following: (1) Year, make, and model of the limo. (2) Rates, including the gratuity and surcharge (3) Deposit and cancellation fees. (4) Company’s liability in the event of a breakdown or no show.
Review Cancellation Policy – If problems arise, you should be able to cancel your reservation. Cancellations are common occurrences for limo companies so feel free to ask about the policy and get it in writing.
Passenger Capacities – Advertised passenger capacities for stretch limousines are incredibly misleading. When you book a stretch, inquire how many seatbelts are in the rear passenger compartment. This will give the limousine’s true seating capacity. Another thing to consider is weight. When setting the GVWR, manufactures assume that everyone in the vehicle weighs 150lbs. If you’re going to exceed this, consider renting a larger limousine.
Surcharges – Cheap limo companies love their surcharges. Discounted services may be inexpensive upfront, but they usually make their money with surcharges. One surcharge (10%) that covers high fuel costs and inflated workman’s comp rates is acceptable, anything else is nonsense.
Hidden Charges – In addition to surcharges, you should also be on the lookout for hidden charges. Reputable limousine companies only charge for parking and airport tax. Also, be aware of bogus taxes. Limousine service is not subject to local or state sales tax.
Travel Time – In theory, an hourly limousine trip should be billed from the time a limo leaves the garage to the time it returns. Unfortunately, due to the dynamics of geography and traffic, limousine companies have fixed travel times. Some companies like to pad this time, but the industry standard is one hour. This entails 30 minutes to the pickup location and 30 minutes back to the garage.
Overages – If you book a limo for an allotted period of time, find out what happens if you go long. In most cases, a company will bill in 15 minute increments until the run is completed. Unscrupulous services will charge by the hour or simply bill you for another run. For example, if you book a run for six hours, and go over, the service will ding you for another six hours
Call Ahead – After you’ve booked a run, call 48 hours before the pickup to confirm the reservation. It’s unusual, but runs do slip through the cracks of the computer system. By being proactive and calling ahead, you may be avoiding a huge problem.