Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Help Me Howard: Bus Battle
If you have a teen in high school you know the homecoming dance is a really big deal. The date, the dress, the transportation. But two teens say the bus they booked turned out to be a big bust, so they put Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser into overdrive to solve their Bus Battle.
WSVN -- If you ask two teenagers how their senior year is going, you get a few answers.
Kristi Voeller: "So far it's been good."
Ali Costanzo: "It's been OK."
Kristi Voeller: "Not the greatest, but ..."
Ali Costanzo: "Not the worst."
The girls may not be decisive about some things, but there is one thing Ali and Kristi know for sure, they wanted their last homecoming dance to be memorable.
Ali Costanzo: "Pretty stoked, yeah."
Kristi Voeller: "We want it to be the best year possible."
Forty of their friends wanted to go to the dance together, and the girls decided to make sure it happened.
Kristi Voeller: "I remember we were going to get two different limos, and then we decided to get one big party bus."
Ali Costanzo: "Because we all wanted to be together and stuff, so we didn't want to pick who is going in who's limo."
Not just any party bus. With everyone chipping in they were able to get what the girls called "a really cool bus."
Ali Costanzo: "It was a double decker, black party bus. It had like leather seats inside, the couch-type things, not regular seats. There was supposed to be a poker-table type thing inside."
Ali says "supposed to be" because, on the day of the dance ...
Ali Costanzo: "Around three or four, the company called us and told us that they were having a mechanical problem with our bus."
The company told them they were waiting on a part and would try to get it fixed. All the kids gathered, waiting for the double decker bus to pull up, and a bus did pull up.
Ali Costanzo: "It was a tour bus, one of those big coach buses you take to Disney World on a field trip."
Kristi Voeller: "So when it pulled up, they all came inside and were like, 'what is this? We didn't pay for this,' so they were really, really upset."
And the bus that showed up was not a top of the line bus either, no working TV, no radio, no fun.
Ali Costanzo: "Everybody was like, they just stared, nobody said anything, and then they tried to make the best of it."
It did get the 41 kids to the dance but the entire time, Kristi and Ali stayed on the phone trying to find out if the double decker party bus would be fixed in time to pick them all up after the dance.
Ali Costanzo: "Instead of dancing on the dance floor, we wasted our time coming out to call our parents, to call the bus driver, to call the company."
Then a strange twist, one of the kids' mothers says she spotted the double decker bus with another group of students from the school.
Ali Costanzo: "When we heard about the black bus, we were really upset."
The girls are convinced the limo company double-booked their bus, leaving Kristi and Ali to take the fall for the foul-up.
Ali Costanzo: "I know seeing their disappointment made me disappointed. I almost didn't want to enjoy my night because I didn't feel right, because I let down a group of my closest friends."
The double decker bus wasn't there after the dance to pick them up. Instead the limo company offered to give back $500 of the $1500 they had paid. The girls said "no."
Kristi Voeller: "So we are really hoping that we can get them all of their money back, so, hopefully, Help Me Howard can help us."
But are the teens entitled to a full refund? For an answer, let's turn to a guy who, for some reason, was never voted homecoming king, Howard.
Howard Finkelstein: Legally the kids are not entitled to a full refund, only the difference between the cost of the double decker bus and the coach bus. As for their disappointment, the law does not recognize that and won't give them money for their loss of memories."
When we asked a supervisor at the limo company if they double-booked the bus, he said "no." That the kids got exactly what they ordered, a coach bus; but, he added, since the teenagers were not happy with that bus, they had already decided to give the kids their entire $1500 back.
Besides a refund, Ali says the company even offered them one night of free limo service. So they have one more great night before high school ends, and they head on to new lives.
Ali Costanzo: "Basically, once we graduate, most of the people won't talk to each other probably, and everybody will be going to their own schools, different states, different towns."
The company kept their word, the kids got a full refund. How can you guarantee you get exactly what you pay for? You can't, but protect yourself by getting everything in writing ahead of time, which the girls didn't do. They told us they just had a receipt.
Busing around a bad problem? Drive it over to us. We won't dance around the issue. We'll just haul off and solve it.
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