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Hiring A Limousine
You can ride in just about any type of stretch limo for a lot less than you'd expect-- if you know how to drive a hard bargain.
1. Assess your finances. A standard limousine (four to six passengers) will set you back about $40 to $80 per hour; a stretch limo (six to eight passengers) runs slightly more--about $60 to $100 per hour. Both have an hourly minimum of four to five hours (although this is usually negotiable). For specialty limos such as a Mercedes, a Hummer or a superstretch (up to 22 passengers), costs can top out at $3,000 for the night.
2. Research, research, research. Be sure the limo operator is licensed and insured. Decide what type of limo you want (standard, stretch, superstretch or specialty) and for how long, based on the event and the number of people in your party. What are you looking for, whether it's a bar, stereo, TV and DVD player, video-gaming system, intercom, sunroof, Jacuzzi, or all of that and a bag of chips. Prices may or may not be posted online. You'll need to do some phone work to get the best deal.
3. Find out the year and make of the limo you'll be hiring, its condition, and the complimentary amenities before you give a deposit. Be sure the deposit is refundable if the limo doesn't meet with your satisfaction. Many limo companies will advertise one type of car and show up at your door with something entirely different. Most list photos of their limos on their Web sites. If quality is a top priority, plan a visit to the limo company and reserve the exact limo that suits your needs.
4. Hire a quality driver. This is crucial--a bad driver can ruin your evening. Make sure the drivers are experienced, professional and know the area. Provide an itinerary to the company beforehand so the driver knows where he or she is going and what to expect. When the driver shows up, be sure to communicate any special needs you have.
5. Ask whose responsibility it is to stock the limo with any necessary party favors ahead of time. Some companies will provide everything you need; others expect you to bring your own. Sometimes you can negotiate a lower rate if you offer to stock the bar yourself.
6. Find out if gratuities are included in the rate; regardless, you'll be expected to tip your driver, so try to keep it separate.
Make sure your limo is ample enough to fit everyone comfortably. If you have six passengers, get a car that accommodates eight.
If you want premium liquor, negotiate that up front, or plan to bring your own.
Ask if smoking (or other activities) is allowed. Even if it's not, most drivers will look the other way if the price is right.
If it's truly a special occasion, don't be cheap. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for: Most higher-end limo companies have superior drivers, vehicles and accoutrements.
Try to clear everything with your driver in advance. He or she is your captain for the evening and can be your best friend or worst nightmare.
Make sure the limo company and their drivers are properly licensed and insured when making your reservation. This will ensure you are dealing with a reputable company.
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