(Memphis) It's that time of year.
All across the MidSouth there are proms, graduations and parties.
Parents should be careful if they plan to put their kids in a limousine.
The On Your Side Investigators found three ways to tell whether a limo company is legit, so your kids don't get taken on a wild ride!
It's the party on wheels every teenager seems to want.
"She and her friends got together and decided they wanted to go for a limo ride," says Fiona Yanok.
"They're not really asking to drive the car anymore, they're asking for a chauffeur, they're asking for a party bus, they want to do what they see on television," explains Brian Hawkins, Master Chauffeur at T-Star Limousines.
We saw party buses tricked out with stripper poles that light up and sometimes there's even booze on the ride.
"It's a trust factor," says Hawkins. "Will kids try to drink," I ask? "Kids are kids," Hawkins replies.
However, the danger doesn't stop with issues like underage drinking.
There have been reports of fatal accidents across the country.
Plus, the On Your Side Investigators found reviews online and complaints with the Better Business Bureau that reveal service problems like extra charges, late drivers or customers simply not getting what they paid for.
"People rented one vehicle, and when the time came for whatever reason it was a different vehicle," explains BBB President Randy Hutchinson.
Thankfully, Yanuk had a good experience. She rented a limo for her daughter who turned 12, on the 12th in 2012.
"She was really excited, she got all glammed up with the sparkly jewels and the nice dress," explained Yanuk of the evening.
Yanuk says she found the company she used online, "It was really the conversation with the owner that really put my mind at ease, when he said he had children, when he said he'd done this before."
If you're planning on renting transportation for your kids anytime soon, you may want to dig a little deeper.
The On Your Side Investigators found three, easy ways to spot a legit limo service and they're all on the car!
First, look for a big sticker on the dash window.
Hawkins explains that for 2013, those stickers should be yellow, "That's all you should see."
The sticker means the company has a permit with the city of Memphis.
They're color coded by year and have an expiration date.
Next, check out the tag.
"There are going to be two letters on the tag that you want to look for, it's going to say CB. That stands for commercial bus," adds Hawkins.
So, if the tag looks like the one on your car, you might want to go with someone else.
Finally, if the company transports in certain vehicles across state lines, which happens frequently in the MidSouth, it must be registered with the Department of Transportation and that number should be on the car.
"That number is really a social security number, if you will for that company," Hawkins says.
In fact, there's a way to pull up the company's safety history and inspection reports online with that DOT number. (List of Memphis carriers registered with the DOT)
It may all seem like a lot of work, but chances are if you're renting a limo for the event, you don't get a do over!
A few other tips:
- Look for the driver's ID badge. In Memphis, the city issues them, so it's an official badge.
- Tour the facility and check out the company's fleet. What you see online may look a bit different in person!
- When kids are involved, establish ground rules.
- Get a written contract.
- Discuss a contingency plan. For example, what happens if the vehicle you contracted for is out of service? There should be a back up plan already established.
Here's a list from the City of Memphis Permits Office:
2013 Limousine/Shuttles Services
6236 E. Shelby Drive
Onyx Town Car
Last Minute Transportation
745 E. Trigg
2735 Stateline Rd W
Spirits of Excellence
8526 Spruce Tree Cove
1225 Des Arc
Need to rent a motor coach, limo or bus for an event? See who is federally certified in your state.
File a complaint about a bad limo experience:
Federal Motor Carrier Administration Consumer Complaint Database, or call 1-888-DOT-SAFT (368-7238).
MidSouth Better Business Bureau-(901) 759-1300