When a couple says "I do," it's supposed to be a memory of a lifetime, but one Louisiana bride and groom said they'd like to forget what happened before they got to the ceremony.
"I'm in my dress you know. Makeup is on, and I'm calling and talking to this guy, and I'm just crying because my family isn't going to make it to my wedding," said the consumer. She and her new husband, who asked not to be identified by name, planned to travel with their immediate families on their big day.
"We were gonna go from the north shore to the ceremony on the south shore and back to the north shore altogether so we could have a little party on the bus," she said. She searched online for transportation, and what stood out on Louisiana Limousine Inc's website was the company's large fleet of buses.
"I even asked if it was going to be a white bus or a black bus. He (call taker) said whatever you want. I said, well I want the white bus because it's a wedding," explained the consumer.
Her email reservation with Louisiana Limousine Inc. detailed the time and route for $800.
"I was gonna be charged a $200 deposit that day, and the additional $600 on the day that the service was provided, but I ended up getting charged the full $800 that day," she said.
When she says she asked about getting a look at the bus in person, "he said that we weren't allowed on the premises.. you know that we couldn't come see the bus."
One month before her big day, she says she confirmed the important details. Fast forward to the actual wedding day, and the couple opted to take pictures before their limo bus's 3 p.m. pickup.
"We were in the middle of pictures, and I thought oh what time is it? 3:05, bus isn't here. We'll give em a few minutes," she explained.
She says the driver called to say he hit traffic and was getting on the Causeway to head to the north shore. After that, the couple says if they were going to make their own wedding, they needed to leave at that moment. They say they grabbed their marriage license and photographer and headed to the south shore.
The whole time, she kept an eye out in the opposite direction of the Causeway for a white limo bus that was supposed to pick up their families.
"By the time they had arranged everybody (family members) in what car they were gonna ride in, the bus had shown up. It was a red and black school bus that had shown up.. an hour late," she said.
The $800 white limo bus turned out to be a red and black school bus with the website www.badbuses.com in big letters on the side. She said all the windows were down, and it had no air conditioning. The couple's families never boarded the bus.
The bride and groom turned to the FOX 8 Defenders to investigate. We searched the LA Secretary of State's website and found several registered limousine companies with similar names, but no listing for "Louisiana Limousine Inc."
Then, we searched the phone number that the local couple used to contact Louisiana Limousine Inc. and found several other limo companies advertising that same number, including badbuses.com, the name on the side of the school bus.
"That is rather peculiar. I'm not sure if it's illegal, but it is in some cases a way to confuse the consumer," said Cynthia Albert with the Better Business Bureau.
The websites advertise big fleets, but we couldn't find any images of that school bus. Also, none of those sites lists a physical address.
We dug some more, and found a location on 4th street in Marrero. Behind a locked fence, we located what appears to be the same red and black school bus that showed up on the couple's wedding day. The facade of the building says "Limousine Service" and that same phone number on Louisiana Limousine's website.
The Louisiana Public Service Commission says it regulates charter buses with 16 or more seats traveling 10 miles beyond their parish of domicile. An LPSC spokesperson told FOX 8, "Louisiana Limousine, Inc. (or any of the names listed on those websites) do not have LPSC authority to operate."
"It makes me mad that this company is able to do this to people," said the local bride.
The Better Business Bureau has advice to avoid this kind of wedding day disaster.
"Don't go by a website because they can put anything on a website and don't go by a brochure either. You want to go by the place of business, and say this is the one I want, is that available?" explained Albert. She added that you want to spell out every detail in a contract or reservation and never pay the total cost up front.
When we visited the Limousine Service address in Marrero, the fence around the building was locked. We called the number on the building, the same number listed on Louisiana Limousine's website, and the person who answered would not tell us the owner's name.
The call taker said he could get a manager to call us back, but explained the owner would "never call us back."
The local couple says the company didn't refund the $800, but their bank credited their account and will investigate.
If you have a consumer complaint, call the FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women at 877-670-6397.
Sunday, August 31 2014 3:28 PM EDT2014-08-31 19:28:29 GMT
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