After six months of marriage, disasters on one's wedding day usually don't seem quite so disastrous anymore. But Barbara Stone Moront still feels a Clinton limousine company treated her with utmost shabbiness on the day she tied the knot -- and I feel the same way.
Barbara wanted two limos to transport the wedding party from her home to the church, and then from the church to the reception. Exclusive Limousine Service agreed to provide the limos for $308.60, and to have the first pair of them at Barbara's door by 1 p.m. on May 19 for a 1:30 wedding.
However, the limos didn't show up until 1:25 p.m. By then, most of the wedding party had left for the church in private cars. Barbara ended up being so late to her own wedding that she delayed the wedding that was scheduled immediately after hers, and ended up with many fewer pictures than she had planned. Not exactly the stuff dreams are made of.
But the tackiest part was yet to come. After the ceremony, the drivers refused to continue on to the reception unless they were paid $208.60 in cash on the spot. (Barbara previously had put down a $100 deposit.)
Back and forth the discussion went. The company hadn't said anything about cash-only when Barbara made the reservations. Tough, said the drivers. Would they accept credit card A? Credit card B? A check? A promissory note? No, no, no and no, said the men with the keys.
They did agree to deduct $28.60 from the tab because the limos had been late to the first stop. But that was all the compromising they would do.
Finally, Barbara and her very new husband bailed out and went on to the reception in a private car. Other members of the wedding party went by limousine to the nearest automatic teller machine, where they withdrew $180 in cash and forked it over. Only then did the limo drivers finish the scheduled trip.
The next day, Barbara called Exclusive and complained to Scott Reid, a vice president. He said that because $28.60 had already been knocked off the bill, he wasn't going to do any further adjusting.
But his final statement to Barbara really took the cake. He told her that if she looked in the phone book from 1989, "I would not find his company, and I wouldn't find it next year, either. He told me that he changes the name of his company from year to year to avoid complaints such as mine."
I tried to reach Scott Reid several times over the last few days. Each time, I left a message. Each time, no call came back. To while away the hours of waiting time, I looked up Exclusive Limousine Service in the 1989 Prince George's County phone book. Sure enough, it's not listed.
Can such name-switching possibly be legal? According to Dave Johnson, of the Better Business Bureau, and a couple of lawyers who are experienced in the area of consumer law, it is. A company can change its name to avoid angry customers as often as it likes, even if fairness is squarely on the side of a bride left in the lurch.
Dave Johnson says there's no foolproof way to protect yourself against such treatment. He suggests obtaining references before you order a limo from any company, and he says it's always a good idea to get a company's refund policy in writing. But Barbara did neither of those in advance. As a result, says Dave, there's not much she or anyone else can do after the fact.
Barbara Stone Moront now lives in Worcester, Mass., where she's a doctor serving her residency. She says the limo mess "was the only flaw in an otherwise perfect wedding day."
But to make Barbara late to the altar for no reason, to force her wedding party to go to an ATM machine while dressed to the nines, to stonewall Barbara when she tried to set things straight . . . I'd say Exclusive Limo (or whatever it's called this week) needs a crash course in how to run a business.
Got your tickets yet? As we ageless wonders used to say back in the 1950s, it should be a humdinger of an evening. How could it be anything else? Little Anthony is coming to town.
To celebrate Levey's 10th year at the helm of our annual Children's Hospital fund-raising campaign, we've decided to throw a party. It's scheduled for 8 p.m. to midnight on Dec. 1, at the Ramada Renaissance Hotel, 999 Ninth St. NW. The idea is to dance, dance, dance to the music of Little Anthony, whose "Tears on My Pillow" was one of the biggest hits in rock and roll history.
Tickets to Bob Levey's Happy Days Dance are $35 apiece. For every ticket sold, The Washington Post will contribute $10 to Children's Hospital. Although the flavor of the evening will be 1950-ish, partygoers of any age are welcome. Reservations may be made through the Post's public relations department at (202) 334-7969. The mailing address is 1150 15th St. NW., Washington, D.C. 20071. Checks should be made payable to The Washington Post.