Did you know that many limousine companies operate without insurance? And, that you can be held liable is there is an accident? When shopping for a classic limousine, make sure that the company you choose is licensed with the Public Utilities Commission and has a PUC permit number. If they do not have this number, they are operating illegally.
This means that they are not properly insured which means you can be held liable if there is an accident. The state of California requires at least $750,000 in liability insurance per vehicle to acquire a limousine license.
If the company is not licensed with the PUC, alcohol is illegal in the vehicle. It is your responsibility to insure that the company you hire is properly licensed. Even if you get a PUC number, make sure that you verify it. Some limousine companies will only list one limousine in order to get a PUC number. This means that only one limousine is insured with the proper insurance. Get the PUC number and VIN number. Contact the Public Utilities commission at 415-703-3115 or 415-703-2063 and give them the PUC and VIN numbers to verify.
Please read this warning from the PUC: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUBLISHED/NEWS_RELEASE/15129.htm
Get a written quote with everything clearly spelled out. Many companies will have hidden costs that can range from 20 - 25% more than what you were quoted. These hidden costs can consist of sales tax, license fee, service charge, PUC fee, travel fee, refueling charge, etc. The sales tax is a made up fee; there is no sales tax on limousine rentals in most states. The license fee and the PUC fees are fees that the limousine company pays for operating as a limousine company. These are not fees that should be charged to the customer. Always ask to see the company policy on how they handle overtime charges. Many companies will charge an hour for just 15 minutes of overtime. Other limousine companies will charge a much higher hourly rate than the original hourly booking rate.
Make sure you are really getting what you pay for. Some companies will disguise an Austin Princess as a Rolls Royce simply by installing a fake Rolls Royce grill. This is not a Rolls Royce! Other companies use kit cars with fake Rolls Royce grills. Some will identify these various "fakes" as Rolls Royces on their web site. Others will only call them Rolls Royces on the phone or in person, out of fear of false advertising lawsuits from the local district attorney. The really clever ones will simply allow you to think it's a Rolls Royce, when you see the "Rolls Royce grill".
A few companies get really "creative". They start out with a Lincoln or Chevy Suburban chassis. Then they install vintage styled kit car bodies on them. To create the appearance of a genuine Rolls Royce, they simply install the fake Rolls grill. To create the appearance of a genuine vintage Cadillac, they simply install real vintage Cadillac bumpers and headlights, etc., which is fine. However, the problem is when they refer to it as authentic, or allow you to think it's authentic. Adding aftermarket parts (or even real parts) does indeed change the appearance of the kit car. However, it does not change what the car actually or legally is. Most of these companies take the position that what the customer doesn't know, won't hurt them. If it truly is no big deal to misrepresent what a car actually is, then why do they it? We at Classic Limos know why they do it. We think you do as well.
Pictures from the internet can be deceiving, always inspect the vehicle prior to reserving it. If you do not inspect the vehicle, you may be very disappointed on your very special day.