My car service company never showed up, and it never explained why

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By | June 18th, 2017

When Michael Tolcott books a car service to take him to the airport, he expects his ride to arrive as agreed. But when the vehicle doesn’t turn up, he is left scrambling to get to the airport and trying not to miss his flight.

Now Tolcott wants to know exactly why the car didn’t arrive — and what, if anything, he’s entitled to.

Tolcott’s story is a lesson about the vagaries of transportation: of how it can be unreliable and that, unfortunately, is just a part of traveling. It’s also a lesson about when to fight a company and when to just use your time on something else.

“In February I reserved a limo from Sanibel Limo to take my wife and me to Fort Myers airport,” Tolcott recalls. “I confirmed all the details on the day of travel, but the car never showed up.”

Now that isn’t helpful — not when you have a flight to catch.

The car service hadn’t called Tolcott to say that they weren’t coming to collect him. And when he called it, to see where the car was, no one answered the phone. Luckily, he was able to find an alternative service at the last minute.

“The ride to the airport and the ordeal through long and slow security lines, was extremely stressful because we did not get to the airport as early as we had planned,” Tolcott recalls. “We finally got to the gate at the last possible minute.”

While Tolcott and his wife managed to catch their flight, and he hadn’t been charged for the service that did not show, he wanted to know why the company hadn’t arrived.

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He had, on the way to the airport, managed to speak with the car service provider and an employee had told him he didn’t know why the car hadn’t showed up.

So the next day he called again and this time spoke to a different employee. That employee said they would find out what happened and get back to him.

Somewhat surprisingly, given that he only called that morning, Tolcott emailed the employee and asked for an explanation.

A week later he still hadn’t received a response, so he emailed and called again. This time, the employee who answered told Tolcott that he would get the person in charge to call or email him — and later on that day they did.

“We deeply apologize that we could not service you at the time,” a representative wrote. “Please email, text or call me well in advance for your reservation and I will make sure that we will help you.”

At this point, I admit I would have given up, but Tolcott didn’t. So that day he emailed back asking for a proper explanation. A week later he got a response, again offering him a ride in the future, and with what he thought was “double-talk” as an explanation as to why they never showed up.

Now the response that Tolcott gave to that explanation is something we always advise against: namely saying you will never to use a company again — at least not when you are asking for something from that company.

And if I did need a ride, why in the world would I use the same company that failed to show up last time, failed to let me know that they would be unable to keep the appointment, and even now, after almost 2 full weeks, has still failed to give me any explanation of why that happened?

Why do we advise against such a response? As our own Christopher Elliott explained in a recent story on our site, who would do anything for you if you’ve already decided you’ll never do business with the company again? That’s why we say not to make that threat.

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Undeterred by the responses he was getting, Tolcott emailed stating “I give up. You are not responding to my e-mails.” He didn’t quite give up, however, as yet again he asked for an explanation.

The response from the company?

We strive to satisfy all our customers and we have many happy and repeat clients. On rare occasions we can not take care of everyone because of airline delays, traffic jam etc.

We apologise that we could not give you a ride.

That’s when Tolcott contacted us and asked if we could get to the bottom of what happened.

Our advocates tried to get an explanation, but we couldn’t even get a response from the company — I suspect that at this point it had given up.

So is there a lesson here that we can learn? Well, we never tell any of our readers to give up on a case, if you really want to fight. That has to be your choice. I would however, always suggest, to think very carefully about fighting on and to decide whether, if you do, will you really win.

Time is precious and something you can’t ever get back. So sometimes it might just be better to never use a company again and move on. After all, what price do you put on your time?

Should we keep trying to get an explanation for Tolcott?

View Results

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  • Mel65

    If the OP takes a moment to extrapolate from the data he already has, he has his answer about why they didn’t show up. Namely, either at best they are disorganized or at worst they are incompetent. Time to let this one go.

  • Meredith Putvin

    At any rate, it is a moot point. The fail to show up coupled with a distinct lack of customer service would lead me to find another company in the future. The company was offered a chance to make it right without incurring additional cost and failed to do so.

    Case Closed.

  • PsyGuy

    I voted No, at this point the article is right, the provider just gave up, and what is there to say. they didn’t make it, they didn’t charge the LW, and anything more is just trying to rub their face in it. Don’t do business with them again, and now everyone in the area knows not to rely on them too.

  • Rebecca

    Has it not occurred to the OP that possibly it just isn’t the type of information someone can give him? While it could be traffic or a missed email or some other unprofessional error, it could also be something that the OP (and definitely the general public) just aren’t entitled to know. For all we know, the driver had some sort of personal emergency. I have learned from experience that sometimes you can end up being the jerk if you push for an explanation in a situation where one isn’t necessarily forthcoming. If you push and push, you always run the risk of the person you’re pushing blurting out something. Best to let it go.

  • Alan Gore

    All they have to do is say “driver had a sudden personal emergency – the next ride is on us.” Instead, he got total radio silence, no attempt to get a new driver out to the customer. This is typical of a company circling the drain. Don’t feel you reflexively need to protect them.

    When you book a car or shuttle service, always check with people in your community to see what they rely on for the same kind of ride. There is always at least one that everyone uses. I have had good luck with Supershuttle back when we lived in their urban service areas.

  • Altosk

    Sounds like they subbed the job out, the subcontracted limo just didn’t show and now they don’t want to admit they sub out jobs.

  • greg watson

    A simple explanation………………..whatever it was, would have been enough. But to ignore the customer means the company has been put on my ‘don’t even consider’ list.

  • Jeff W.

    Unless the Tolcott’s knew the driver specifically assigned to pick them up, then there would be no confidential information. The simple excuse of the driver was sick would have sufficed. Odds are they were short-staffed or there was a scheduling overlap.

    Regardless, I think he was also looking for more than just an apology. Some goodwill gesture, like a free ride or coupon for the next time.

    One of the reasons why Uber and Lyft are becoming more dominant in this market space…

  • Rebecca

    I completely 100% agree with you. I just reread my comment and realized I didn’t make it clear. The company is absolutely in the wrong and I don’t want to protect them. The only point I was trying to get across was that when a company gives the customer a run around like this, so long as he’s not out any money, it’s better to let it go. Multiple emails and phone calls demanding nothing more than an “answer” can backfire. Someone at the company is likely to get irritated by the constant messages from someone that isn’t a customer and was refunded. They may very well say something along the lines of “well, if you must know, my wife suffered a late miscarriage and I was concerned with her and thus ignored you”. It’s not worth the energy, it’s best to leave a negative review and move on.

  • AAGK

    Maybe it got a flat, driver called in sick, better booking at a higher price, forgot about his reservation, identified him as a customer who would later be annoying….. does it matter ?

  • AAGK

    The time was when it never changed them and they procured alternative travel.

  • AAGK

    Maybe the OP contacted the service with some other irrelevant question and it decided he would be annoying so it just blew him off and didn’t even care. Rude of the company ….. but it doesn’t seem upset about this or the publicity.

  • Bill___A

    One could just come to the conclusion that they messed up. The OP’s made their flight so there aren’t any damages.

  • cscasi

    A quick call to him as soon as the company knew it would be unable to transport him as agreed (for whatever reason), would have been the right thing to do so he could have had time to get other transport. It’s obvious that the company did not have anyone else to send, unless it lost his reservation. In any case, it should have given him a straight answer from the beginning.

  • Tricia K

    Should we continue to work for an explanation? To what end? He and his wife found alternate transportation, made their flight (albeit with some extra added stress) and aren’t out anything. The ride service apologized. It’s time to move on and use a different service for their next trip. We occasionally use a car service to avoid parking at the airport (it isn’t cost effective until we get to the 7 day period) but could always drive ourselves if they didn’t show up on time. In addition, I set a pick up time that allows us some options if the driver doesn’t show up (the company I’ve used here in the Twin Cities is usually early).

  • LonnieC

    Oh,come on. The company clearly was in the wrong. And the OP was inconvenienced by that. However, after his first request for an “explanation” was not satisfied, he should have simply walked away. He did not miss his trip; he was not out any money; what could he really expect? To waste weeks in a futile attempt to get an explanation was foolish. Let it go. Lesson learned: never deal with that company again. Enough.

  • Jenny Zopa

    A true consumer advocate website would publish the name of the offending company so future consumers would actually be able to make use of this story and avoid them….

  • Carchar

    The one time we called for a taxi to take my husband and me to catch a local commuter train to NYC, it didn’t show up. My husband was going for an important follow-up surgeon’s appointment after major surgery. However, we still could take the next train to get to the doctor on time. I called the taxi service to ask what happened and to send someone to pick us up in half an hour. We received an apology and assurance that a driver would come. No one came. We called the doctor to cancel the appointment. After several minutes on hold, a receptionist came back on to tell us that they had made the appointment in error. We needed another 2 weeks of healing before they could take his stent out. So, while we were happy that we were spared a 2 1/2 hour trip to the doctor’s office for nothing, we made a note never to call that taxi company again.

  • TobySparky

    You do realize the name of the service is in the article, correct?

  • Lindabator

    correct – they really do not OWE you an explanation – mea culpa is all that is required – and since he never paid – moot point.

  • Jenny Zopa

    My fault, I missed the name of the company. I stand corrected.

  • joycexyz

    Absolutely. And he should be very vocal about the “I don’t give a damn” attitude. Hope they go out of business–the sooner the better.

  • joycexyz

    There’s a great invention out there called the telephone–comes in both landline and cell versions. Yes, emergencies happen. Is it too much to ask for someone to call (using aforementioned invention) if they could not fulfill their obligation? BTW, I rather like his pushing for an answer.

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