Limo Rentals 101: How to Avoid Limo Scams in 2023

Find out what questions to ask, red flags to avoid, and common scams to watch out for when renting a limo

Please buckle up for this mega information page that will shock you!!! There’s an old expression “You get what you pay for”. Unfortunately, half the time, which is very significant amount, within this industry, you actually don’t receive what you expect. Here are a few insider tips to assist you when choosing a trusted limo company like Presidential Limousine.

3 Common Limo Scams in 2024

First of all it is very sad to say that a few of these limo operators have been stealing the design of our website! They are located in McLean and Springfield, VA. Overall things in the limo industry were pretty shady before the pandemic. Since the pandemic however it has gotten 100 times worse!

1. Companies don’t own the vehicles they’re advertising

Many limo companies don’t actually own their vehicles listed on their websites! They are just for show on their website so they want to look like a bigger company than they actually are. You can tell because they are black and white stocked photos from Google images. As we mentioned previously two of those comanies who practices shady tactics are in Springfield and Mclean, VA. 

2. Shady limo companies that aren’t based in the United States

Pay attention to how the limo operator communicates with you. Professionalism and responsiveness are crucial indicators of a reliable service. Half of these companies phones and reservations are being run from Pakistan, India and some African countries who are clueless about having any knowledge about Washington DC Metro area. They don’t understand English or can’t speak it. If it wasn’t for Google maps they would have no clue of the surrounding cities of the Washington DC metro area. That is because they don’t live here and have no clue where things are. They are in foreign countries and go by American names like Mike, John, Mark, Todd and Sam. If something feels off or if you have doubts about the legitimacy of the operator, trust your instincts and consider alternative options.

3. Drivers aren’t trained or professional

Their drivers are drivers and not chauffeurs. They show up looking worse than homeless people. It is just embarrassing. First of all they are not in a proper suit and tie. If they are in a so-called suit, then there is no tie. The color and material of the jacket don’t match with their pants. They don’t wear clean white shirt, instead they are some off color. The shoes are totally different colors and not proper black dress shoes. If they are wearing a tie, then it is loose, hanging from their neck.

Questions to ask to avoid common limo scams

1. What vehicle (year, make, model, features) will actually pick me up?

At Presidential Limousine, all of our vehicles are within one to six years old. Some vehicles such as H2 Hummer are older because they are no longer being produced. However we are constantly on top of our maintenance to make sure that every single feature inside our vehicles is fully functioning.

When you book your limo, ask specifically what the year, make, model. Also ask what features are included so you make sure you get what you pay for. A common scam is for a limo company to say that the limo you were scheduled for is in the shop for maintenance. If that happens, you should expect a full refund because you are not getting what you paid for.

2. What is the final price I’ll pay, with all fees, taxes, and surcharges included?

With Presidential Limousine, all our rates are All Inclusive! Most companies quote a price without including all their fees to make it seem much less expensive and then when you are about to make the reservation, then they are adding ridiculous and nonsense fees. Make sure to ask what the final price charged to your credit card will be.

You may encounter a quote either verbally or via email that seems too good to be true. These limo companies are only including their time and limo rental in the quote. They may be leaving off items like fuel surcharges, service fees, booking fees, city and state taxes, along with other miscellaneous fees. This leads to the actual price being 20-30% more than the quoted price.

A handful of companies include a 20% service fee and they tell the customers that tip is not included. So in fact you are paying 40% over the price quoted initially.

3. Will the limo I’m booking be guaranteed to be reserved for me on this particular date?

With a Presidential Limousine? Absolutely! God forbids unless something unforeseen happens at the last minute mechanical wise. If that happens, then we will try to replace it with something similar as soon as we possibly can. Many limo companies won’t actually reserve your limo. Instead they continue to tell other shoppers that date & limo is available in hopes of getting a higher bidder. If someone is willing to pay more than you, they will simply cancel your reservation at the last minute.

Presidential Limousine guarantees in writing that the vehicle you’re renting will be available for your booked date. Pictures on our website are actual pictures of the limo vehicles owned entirely by Presidential Limousine.

Bait and switch limo scams

Most of the limo companies don’t own even a quarter of the fleet that Presidential Limousine owns. So they will reserve you the limo that you are interested in and right a couple of days before your special event, they will call you and will drop a bomb on you. That bomb is that their limo broke down and they will do a so called “free upgrade” to their old and beat up and smelly party bus. So now your special day is ruined because you did not get that beautiful and shiny stretch limo or a stretch Hummer that you were looking forward to getting for your special wedding day or your birthday. These companies have no shame and morals.

Do you remember when 3 years ago, 20 innocent people were killed in NY because they were riding in a 20 year old Excursion limo??? That is true!!! A 20 year old Excursion limo was being operated by a Pakistani operator who fled back to his country after that horrific tragedy. Until today he is missing and no one is responsible for the death of the 20 people who lost their lives in such a horrific accident. Sad part is that about a dozen operators in the DC, VA and MD are still using the same 20 year old vehicle. It is an Excursion and Ford stopped producing it on 2005. If they offer me that for FREE, I would not get in it. My life is too precious to save a few dollars! 

There are no local and state enforcement what-so-ever in the limo industry at all here in Washington DC and the states of Virginia and Maryland. It would be too late if a tragedy such as NY would happen here in the DC metro area. We are constantly complaining to these local and state officials and nothing is being done about it. We have taken numerous photos and videos of illegal operators and have submitted them to the enforcement agencies and they have turned their back on us. All they do is just send those gyspy and scam operators a letter, that’s it. Are they waiting for a disastrous incident and a major casualty to happen like it did in NY in 2008 before they take any action? For more innocent people to lose their precious lives? Belowis a detail of the tragedy:

The tragic limousine crash in Schoharie, New York, on October 6, 2018, involved a modified 2001 Ford Excursion limousine. The vehicle failed to stop at an intersection, crossed a parking lot, and eventually crashed into an embankment near the Apple Barrel Country Store.

Here are some key details about the incident:

  1. Casualties: The crash resulted in the deaths of 20 people, including the limousine’s driver, all 17 passengers, and two pedestrians in the vicinity of the crash.
  2. Investigation Findings:
    • The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducted an investigation into the crash. Their preliminary findings indicated issues with the vehicle, including inadequate maintenance and brake system failure.
    • It was revealed that the limousine had previously failed inspections, and the company that owned it, Prestige Limousine, had a history of safety violations.
  3. Vehicle Modification:
    • The limousine involved in the crash had been modified from its original state. Such modifications can affect the safety and structural integrity of the vehicle.
    • The NTSB found that the modifications did not meet federal safety standards.
  4. Legal and Regulatory Implications:
    • The incident led to increased scrutiny of the limousine industry and raised questions about the regulation and oversight of limousine services.
    • The tragedy prompted discussions about the need for stricter safety standards and increased enforcement.
  5. Criminal Charges:
    • The owner of Prestige Limousine, Nauman Hussain, faced criminal charges in connection with the crash. He was accused of allowing an improperly licensed driver to operate an unsafe vehicle.
  6. Impact on Regulation:
    • The Schoharie crash prompted calls for regulatory changes to enhance the safety of stretch limousines and other modified vehicles.
    • New York state subsequently passed legislation aimed at increasing oversight of the limousine industry and implementing stricter safety measures.

The Schoharie limousine crash remains a tragic event that highlighted the importance of ensuring the safety of transportation services, particularly those involving modified vehicles. The incident led to increased awareness of regulatory shortcomings and the need for more rigorous oversight to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Operators are operating without proper business license, without proper insurance and without proper “For Hire” or “Limousine” license plates. They will show up to pick you up in a vehicle with a private tag with personal or maybe no insurance and no proper business license at all. 

They do not have proper legal names. Instead some og the examples are “DC party bus”, “party bus Virginia” etc. 

Uber limo scams

If you are looking for a sedan or SUV, 8 out of 10 limo operators use Uber drivers with their own cars and SUVs to come and pick you up. So, by giving those Uber drivers work, they keep a small percentage as a profit. So you think that you will be getting a nice, clean and a professional driver? Think again! You are being picked up by the same old Uber driver who just dropped someone off and now he is on his way to pick you up with casual attire and with the same dirty car which hasn’t been cleaned, vacuumed or sanitized. How can you trust putting your young kids and loved ones in the same vehicle with someone who is not regulated with no background checks and someone who has a felony record and hasn’t been fingerprinted. It is a very common practice in this industry.

At Presidential Limousine, we cannot stand the word Uber! We own our own fleet of impressive vehicles and have our own professional chauffeurs who have been vetted with a full background check and have been fingerprinted. They go through our excessive training and constant polishing to make sure that the consumers are receiving their money’s worth.

Of course on the other hand Uber and Lyft are getting away without having a proper licensing, insurance and documentation because they are lobbying and bribing those congressmen, local and state officials. They are not a transportation company, they are simply an app and a technology company.   

Party Bus limo scams

Don’t trust those beautiful and amazing looking pictures of the party buses on these limousines websites. When they pull up it is not the same party bus that the pictures are posted from. It doesn’t even look close to what they have been advertising. That is the reason that they are so cheap. When you read their reviews, all the previous customers talk about is how half of the amenities inside was not working, water was leaking from the roof, smells very bad from the odor of the previous parties with the alcohol spillage and especially after the last trip it was not detailed, AC does not function properly on a hot summer day and the stereo is shot which is a big ordeal. We are proud to say that Presidential Limousine is the only top limousine company in the entire DC, VA and MD area with brand new and immaculate party buses. 

Sprinter / Executive VIP limo scams

What consumers need to learn is that all the limo style Sprinter’s maximum capacity is 12. If someone is selling it to you for more than 12, they are trying to rip you off, are lying to you and are being dishonest. Even in our 12 passenger Sprinter limo, it is for 12 NORMAL size adults. Our suggestion is not to have 12 people because you will be complaining and you will not be comfortable. So imagine all these other companies that are trying to sell them with the capacity of more than 12. It is shocking and they have no conscience.

As far as quality is concerned, they are all not the same. What makes our Sprinters different from the competition is the high end amenities that have been added to our vehicles, especially high end suspension systems for a much smoother ride. Consumers normally don’t think about these small but pertinent details. 

Most of the companies carry your basic factory Sprinters which should be half of the price that we are charging.

What are the risks of choosing the cheapest limo company?

Risks You Accept When Shopping for the “Best Price”

  1. Your limousine doesn’t show up. You might miss your concert, late for your wedding or special event!
  2. Your car service is late – you miss your flight.
  3. A 2001 model limousine (rusting at the seams) arrives at your door when you were expecting a modern limousine. Instead of being lavished in luxury, you are embarrassed and disappointed. Your limousine chauffeur exercises poor customer service with your company’s most influential client. You lose the account.
  4. Your limousine breaks down on the freeway during transport to your wedding. You and your bridal party are late to the most important day of your life. But hey, you saved $75!
  5. Your limousine gets into an accident and doesn’t have proper insurance to cover the damages involved in your injuries.

How to avoid bad limo service?

Don’t be the customer whose ‘limo got into an accident’ or ‘limo company lost the reservation’ or ‘your limo is around the corner for the last hour’ or ‘the limo is still in the shop for the last 30 days’. Cover yourself by getting a signed contract and shopping smart. Shopping on price alone is dangerous. Unethical limo operators will not hesitate to drop a reservation to pick up a better paying fare.

Here’s another article if you want to learn more about what to know before you rent a limo.

Presidential Limousine

2100 M St. NW # 170-193
Washington, DC 20037

(703) 347-6900

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