How to Avoid Scams in the Limo Industry
Not Everything is as it Appears Online in the Limo Industry
With current social media and internet marketing, it is easy for anyone to connect directly to companies and find out more about local businesses, including chauffeured transportation companies. Unfortunately, with all of this access to social media, there is a lack of face to face interaction.
There have been reported cases in the Detroit area of limousine companies scamming their customers using the internet. These chauffeured transportation companies have reportedly opened “fake locations” and store fronts to appear legitimate for online searchers. What these companies don’t tell you is that they are not licensed, have no permits, and even worse, no cars. The company would gladly take your full or half payment and then cancel your run or skip town with the money, never to be found again.
Some companies are using Facebook to bash other local companies, advertise their fake rates, and extend unbelievable discounts to online viewers. The companies have also been creating/buying fake addresses on Google Maps to appear legitimate. This article will help to ensure that you find reputable chauffeured transportation companies and know when you spot something fishy.
Triple Check Addresses
When considering a limousine company on the web, actually look at the “Street view” and “Aerial view” versions of the location. A typical transportation company will have their fleet vehicles on the property and they are visible when using “aerial views” and “street views.” It’s not uncommon to look up the location of a limo company and actually find out it is an empty parking lot or a coffee shop. Make sure to double check, to play it safe or even drive by.
Check out their website as thoroughly as possible. Professional and legitimate websites often have their own domain “limocompanyusa.com” rather than a sub-domain or a hosted site (limos100.wordpress.com, limos23.blogspot.com etc). If the hosted site is only a blog, check for a real domain. Any company owner should have a nice website. Again, just because there is a website does not ensure that it is legitimate, but it is a step in the right direction.
What to look for on a website:
- Do the photos appear to be purchased/look like stock images? Photos on a background are a huge giveaway, or photos with no background
- Does the content seem specialized or generic?
- How much about the company do you learn from the ‘about’ section? Is there one?
- From the website, can you answer the following:
- Where is the company located
- Where are their offices
- What does the office look like?
- What is the company owner’s name?
- How long has this company been around?
Does the company have associations or awards? Though it can be easily faked, search for awards the company has won. Looking for the company on limos.com and the national limousine association in their member directories is a helpful step. Association memberships can also show how involved the company is in their industry and if they are continuing their education on the latest trends.
- Find at least two news articles about the company on Google on legitimate news websites
- Find 7 reviews from different places on the internet
- Use street/aerial views of the location
- If/when you find out the address of the office or lot, type it in to Google
- Does the company name appear as a result?
Too Good to be True? It Might be
Don’t fall for bait and switch techniques, incredibly low rates (shop around first to compare, even), and huge deals, such as 1 hour and 3 hours free, etc. Investigate these deals further.
Most Important of All, Visit!
If an event is important enough to pay for transportation, it is important enough to investigate. Actually go the location and see who is there. Tour the vehicles you are interested in, ask to see insurance and permits. Nothing proves a company’s legitimacy than seeing it with your own eyes.
Posted on March 4th, 2013 in Corporate Travel & Advice, Useful Tips.