This is how it plays out: first, a customer googles “limo services near me” or “book limo in x city.” They click on the first or second listing that comes up in the search and either call immediately or look quickly at the business’ listing or website before dialing. They are connected with a call center operator who doesn’t seem familiar with the area but is happy to book a ride for the customer and get their credit card information.
Then, the ride is canceled without warning, the car doesn’t show up, or they get picked up by a vehicle which is clearly not the one they had booked and paid for. Yet a refund turns out to be impossible to get either because the phone number doesn’t work anymore, the company makes up some excuse, or the limo booking agent says that reimbursement has been sent and the money never shows up.
What the customer in this scam scenario doesn’t know is that the limo company that he or she contacted is phony. Or even worse, the company name shown on the listing or website is the name of a legitimate limo operator, but the phone number shown goes to a fake call center.
Unfortunately, this type of scam is becoming more and more common. The same formula is used in a variety of service-based industries, from locksmiths and plumbers to taxi cabs. Chauffeured transportation is just one of the newer targets for this type of fraudulent activity.
How Limo Customers Are Being Scammed
People who have fallen victim to fake limo operator websites are sounding the alarm about the rise of scams.
Customers report phony limo rental businesses using fake physical locations. According to Aristocat Chauffeured Transportation, “companies have also been creating/buying fake addresses on Google Maps to appear legitimate.” Then they find out, only when it’s too late, that the limo rental or party bus service they intended to hire is not licensed, has no permits, or–worst of all—no vehicles.
And others have been cheated by Facebook and Google ads for fake limo companies. They also report being lured into the trap by advertisements for super low rates and unbelievable discounts. Recent news points to this being a growing problem; according to Business Insider, “Facebook and Google are failing to crack down on fraudulent ads placed on their platforms.”
They’ve also been tricked into doing business through booking websites that look legit and may even use the name of a real operator. However, the contact information posted on the site directs potential customers to fraudulent call center or an unauthorized operator.
What Limo Customers Should Do to Spot a Fake
Potential limousine customers should be on the lookout for scams. This includes checking out the businesses website to see if information is accurate and up to date. The domain and url of the website should include the name of the company and not a bunch of random letters and numbers. Look at their contact information to verify that it is a local business in the area where the rental is requested.
If a customer is unsure about the legitimacy of a business or its address, a quick check on the street view or aerial view on the map should be able to confirm this. A real limo operator will have a verified address with fleet vehicles parked on the lot.
It’s important to confirm that the operator is licensed and if they are members of nationally recognized transportation operator organizations. Also, look on Google, Facebook, Yelp and other sites to see what real customers have to say about a specific limo service.
Be weary of offers and promotions that seem too good to be true or advertised prices that are way below average. And finally, customers can call or visit to get to know a business before working with them.
How You Can Protect the Name & Reputation of Your Business
- Keep your business’ website up to date. It’s also a good idea to hire a trusted company to maintain your website, ensuring that security issues are addressed, prevent tampering and protect your client information.
- Clearly display your license and permit. On your company website, social pages, business cards and fleet vehicles, put the relevant license and permit information where it’s clearly visible.
- Only work with reputable service providers. Whenever outsourcing some part of your business, be sure to thoroughly vet your service providers. Check that they are compliant with all relevant state and federal regulations and that they are in good standing in their industry.
- Become a member of the BBB and NLA. These organizations work to protect the interests businesses and the private driver transportation industry.
- Encourage customers to write a review. Testimonials and customer reviews are hugely important for all types of activities these days. Ask your happy riders to leave a comment on whatever channel they prefer. This will help confirm for new and potential customers that your activity is real and trustworthy.
LimoLive24 – Earn Your Customers’ Trust
Our experienced call agents are dedicated to the livery industry and trained to provide reliable service for hardworking livery operators and their customers. We are proud sponsors of the NLA and Chauffeur Driven and our company works with some of the most reputable names in the business.