Hiring a Limousine
employed for professional reasons, such as airport transport and other client
services, and entertainment purposes like weddings, proms, concerts, regional
tours, etc. But whether you rent a limousine for business or pleasure,
preparation is key to having a safe and successful experience. Before you sign
a contract, the Better Business Bureau suggests the following steps to make
sure you get the service you want on your special day.
to know what your basic needs will be before you begin shopping for limousine
service. The date and length of your event, the number of people in your party,
pick-up times and the number of pick-ups necessary all help determine what type
of vehicle you'll need, how long you'll need it for, and whether the company
can accommodate your wishes. Price may factor into your decision, but keep in
mind the least expensive option may not be the most reliable and efficient.
- Expect a minimum hourly booking.
Minimum bookings may range from a standard three hours up to eight hours
for an event like the prom. Few, if any, limousine companies will rent for
just one hour because of the cost of preparing the vehicles and hiring
- Understand rental costs will vary by
time of year, type of vehicle, days used (weekends cost more), geographic
area, and the distance traveled.
- Budget for more than one vehicle if
booking for a large group. Specify the number of passengers who will be
traveling, and remember it may be difficult to comfortably fit a large
number of adults into one car, particularly if the occasion calls for
formal attire. Limousines do come in several sizes; however, larger
vehicles will cost more to rent.
- Book adequate time for your event. Do
not assume you can add extra time on the day of the occasion, as many
companies will have additional bookings to cover, particularly during spring
and summer, peak seasons for weddings and proms.
Find a Company
When you know
your budget and what you'll need from a limousine service, start shopping
around. A few phone calls should offer a general range of the fees in your
area; fees much lower than average may indicate a company who cuts corners on
issues like safety and driver training. Interviewing a company in detail may
help prevent delays or no-shows on the day of your event.
- Allow yourself plenty of time to do
your shopping. Seasonal events, such as proms and sport excursions may
require several months prior to shop and reserve a limo. Weddings often
require a longer reservation period.
- Ask friends and relatives for
- Check with your local BBB for reliability
reports on the companies you are considering.
- Be cautious about shopping for
service on the Internet. Online sites are often "brokers" who
don't own any limousines but actually farm out reservations to affiliate
companies in your area. Costs may be higher to accommodate the broker's
fees, and service may be questionable because technically you are not the
company's client but the broker's. If you prefer to shop online, look for
sites that offer a guide to companies in your area but allow you to deal
directly with the company yourself.
- Call at least three different
companies for estimates and services provided. Never shop by price alone.
- Check references. A reputable company
will be happy to supply referrals from satisfied customers.
- Ask if the company belongs to any
industry associations, such as the National Limousine Association (NLA).
Members of these associations must often abide by special insurance
regulations and service rules that maintain a high standard of customer
- Make an appointment to examine the
limousines: previewing may save you disappointment on the day of your
event. Inspect the vehicles inside and out and note the cleanliness of the
offices and presentation of the staff. A poorly organized visit may
indicate potential problems when it comes time for your occasion.
- Find out about chauffeur training.
Professional service is critical to your enjoyment of the day; choose a
provider who offers a training program and places a high value on the
caliber of their drivers.
- Ask about insurance and permits. Get
a copy of the certificate of insurance. **Note: If you plan to use the
company's services over an extended period of time, for example with
business clients, contact the insurance company directly and ask to be
added as "named insured". If the coverage should lapse for any
reason, the insurance company will notify you.
- Check for certification, especially
vehicle operating authority, safety certificates and driver licensing. If
a service is taking you or your party across state lines, you should check
with that state's Department of Motor Vehicles for regulations and
- Determine what contingency plans the
company has to get you to your event should a vehicle break down or become
involved in an accident; for example, for emergencies the company may have
a reciprocal relationship with another carrier.
- Ask if the 15 to 20 percent standard
gratuity for livery service is included in the fare estimate. Be prepared
to tip in cash; almost all chauffeurs prefer it.
Get It in
narrowed your choice down to one limousine service, try to get a written
contract; a company that will not supply a contract may not be confident in
their ability to fulfill.
- Know the company's cancellation
policies and get them in writing.
- Do not agree to pay more than a 50
percent deposit. Keep in mind a 25 percent deposit and full payment before
the event date are standard guidelines.
- If possible, pay the deposit and
balance by credit card. You will be in a better position to dispute the
charges if your vehicle is late, dirty or doesn't show.
- Make sure you understand all the
services to be provided. Also, if you have special requests - champagne
for a wedding, a specific car color or make, etc. - be sure the details
are clearly written in the contract as well. **Note: The more specific
your requests, the further in advance you should reserve and pay for your
- Request a written contract within one
week of leaving your deposit, and keep a copy of the contract until after
the successful completion of your event.
New York State Attorney General
400 7th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20590
of Transportation (USDOT)
400 7th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20590
This report is
general in nature and is not intended as a reliability report on any company, service