Getting taken for a ride

May 12, 2008

by Jen Bakken

Delano High School students enjoyed their prom despite the cold and windy weather April 26.

I’m sure there were some students who were rather upset that winter hadn’t left Minnesota in time for prom.

Paying for prom tickets, tuxes, dresses, flowers, pictures, and beauty salons are things students and parents take in stride.

All of these things are worth paying for because students, and parents alike, hope prom will be a memorable occassion.

However, this year, there was more than just wintery weather for some Delano students to remember about their prom.

This year, they were taken for a ride, but not the ride they paid for.

Approximately 30 students put their hard-earned money (or their parents’ hard-earned money) toward the rental of a double-decker bus.

Each student paid $48 to reserve their spot on the bus. Many of these students were seniors, including my son.

They didn’t want just a regular limo and wanted to ride together with as many friends as possible. A double-decker bus seemed the perfect option.

It was very obvious they were excited about this unusual means of prom transportation.

Unfortunately, their excitement turned to anger when the evening before prom they had no transportation at all.

Classic Auto Limousine in North Minneapolis claimed they didn’t have the appropriate insurance forms and could not transport the students.

Of course the company had already been paid for the service they were unable to provide.

So, on the night before prom, these students were left scrambling around trying to figure out how everyone would get to and from prom.

Parents were left worrying about all these kids on the roads after losing their “safe” means of transportation.

Ironically, Fox 9 News featured a report about situations like this entitled ‘Risky Rides” May 1.

Investigator Jacqueline McLean exposed how some of these companies skirt safety rules and the other dangers associated with rental transportation.

Classic Auto Limousine, the company the Delano students rented the double-decker bus from, was also mentioned in the Fox 9 report.

According to the investigative report, Classic Auto Limousine filed bankruptcy last year.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation said at the time of the Fox News investigation, Classic Auto Limousine didn’t have a license to operate, and there is a pending investigation regarding complaints against them.

Delano area parents have contacted the Better Business Bureau and the Attorney General’s Office regarding the company and this unfortunate situation.

The mother who helped arrange the double-decker bus has refunded the money back to students, and charges are being disputed through her credit card company.

At the time I wrote this column, this mother’s credit card had yet to be refunded.

A Classic Auto Limousine company representative, who refused to reveal his name, stated, “This was a terrible situation for everyone. We were unable to clear insurance form E through the state in time to safely transport.”

He admitted that this affected four scheduled rentalsm and the proper insurance forms weren’t in place until just last week.

You can view the Fox 9 investigative report on their web site by searching for “Risky Rides.”

Fortunately, the Delano students were able to have a good time at prom despite the cold weather and the double-decker dilemma.

This may be a good life lesson for the high-schoolers, and all of us. Unfortunately, you can’t trust everyone or take them for their word.

There are always those who are ready and waiting to take advantage and take us for a ride.