Bad buses may be hurting legitimate limo businesses - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

FOX 8 Defenders: 'Bad Buses' may be hurting legitimate limo businesses

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Last month, FOX 8 Defenders showed you the man behind the so-called 'Bad Buses' is a convicted felon.

We also reported that Sean Lewis was wanted on an outstanding warrant for theft by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office. The Defenders have learned Lewis remains wanted at this time.

Consumers say Lewis is the same guy advertising limos and limo buses online, but what shows up is not what they paid to have transport them, they say. School buses have shown up to transport passengers on several occasions. Another consumer claimed a limo with no air conditioning and a burned out headlight broke down so many times, a group of high school seniors missed their prom.

The Louisiana Public Service Commission, which regulates motor carriers, says Louisiana Limousine Inc. and other online companies connected to Lewis and offering passenger vehicles do not have the authority to even operate. Still, we've highlighted four examples where the vehicles on 4th Street in Marrero, in Jefferson Parish, transported passengers all across the region without the proper motor carrier license.

Now, add Slidell resident Cat Fonseca to that growing list of frustrated consumers.

"I didn't really intend to pull up in a 15 passenger van, and you know, trying to get out of a 15 passenger van with your wedding dress on is like not really a glamorous look," explained Fonseca.

Fonseca had no choice but to use the van she rented for friends and family because the stretch Lincoln limo she paid Louisiana Limousine Inc. for never showed up on her wedding day. She remembers receiving a text message from the company, saying there was a tire problem and the limo would be late.

"I'm like ready, at the front door, like me and my bridesmaids and my dad. We're all at the front door just waiting, thinking [the limo driver] is gonna' pull up any minute and we're gonna' go," recalled Fonseca.

They waited patiently, but 30 minutes before she was supposed to be at the church, she said someone with the limo company called.

"He said ‘yeah, I'm just gonna' give you a refund,' and I was like wait, what are you saying right now?" she said. "He was like, I'm not doing it. I'm not doing it."

That was on her wedding day in February.

To this day, Fonseca says the limo company has never refunded her.

"I don't think that he had any intention. I think that he just thought that I would let it go," explained Fonseca.

"It pretty much hit home for me when I saw what was going on," said Dyrin Riculfy who owns Millennium Limousine in Chalmette.

He says Sean Lewis and the ‘Bad Buses and Limos' used Millennium's name to do business. People looking for his Millennium Limousines would accidentally call one of Lewis' many companies and ask, 'Is this millennium?'

Riculfy says the person on the phone would answer 'yes.'

"Just common courtesy, customer courtesy. No, you didn't reach Millennium, but we are such and such, we can help you? It would have been perfect, but to tell a client that you've reached this is Millennium Limousine Service -- that's wrong," said Riculfy. "It hurt us tremendously."

While Lewis doesn't have a motor carrier license, Riculfy and Millennium do. Millennium's Louisiana Public Service Commission number is 7520. On its website, the PSC lists all regulated carriers. Under Millennium and that number, you'll find all of their vehicles that are licensed to operate.

"The most important thing is the insurance," said Riculfy. Also, he says the state conducts an overall inspection of vehicles once a year.

"[The PSC inspecting agent] looks for everything. He looks for head lights. He looks for fire extinguishers. He's looking to make sure the client can get in and out of the vehicle, making certain that the windows roll up and down, making sure the air conditioning works, making sure that the vehicle is just a safe vehicle to ride. Period," said Riculfy.

Since the ‘Bad Buses and Limos' aren't licensed, they're not getting those inspections, meaning consumers have no way of knowing whether they're safe or carry the proper insurance.

This leaves Cat Fonseca with many questions.

"All of what you've shown has shown that he's dishonest and he puts people at risk. So why is he still allowed to operate a business? If he was operating a restaurant and everybody was getting food poisoning every day, you wouldn't be allowed to stay open, would you? No, somebody would be in there saying ‘no, you have to close down.' So why is it okay for him to be driving these limos all around all over the place?"

Many of the consumers who've reached out to FOX 8 Defenders have since filed complaints with the public service commission, which tells us it is actively investigating.

FOX 8 tried reaching out to the limo service in question. This week, they were still taking limo reservations. We also asked to speak to the owner or Sean Lewis, again for a response to our reports, but the call taker hung up on us.

If you have a consumer concern, call the FOX 8 Defenders and volunteers with the National Council of Jewish Women or fill out our brand new online complaint form here: http://www.fox8live.com/category/234780/fox-8-defenders

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