Consumer Protection Tips for Special Spring and Summer Events
HARTFORD, May 2 – Despite April’s chilly weather, springtime marches steadily forward; the traditional peak of special events is just a few weeks away. As families prepare for weddings, proms, graduations, road trips and other special events this spring and summer, the Department of Consumer Protection offers these reminders and tips.
Before renting limousine service for a special occasion, consider the size and type of vehicle you want and decide how many hours you need. Visit websites of local limousine and livery companies to view their vehicles and packages. Prices may or may not be posted online, but always call to confirm prices and availability. Check with friends and family for names of reliable companies.
“You want to be sure you’re dealing with a reputable business, so make sure the company is licensed in Connecticut and fully insured,” Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein said. “Ask for the company’s Connecticut permit number and then check with the Department of Transportation at (860) 594-2868 to verify that the company is in good standing. If your limousine ride will take you out of state, the operator needs an interstate permit in addition to the Connecticut permit.” Before booking, ask the company for references and call them.
If you have a specific request, be sure to communicate that with the company and include it in the contract in writing. Specify the year and make of the vehicle you'll be getting, its condition, and any complimentary amenities. Popular “party buses” book early. It’s a very good practice to visit the company in person to choose the exact vehicle you want and specify it in your contract. A few days before the event, contact the company to confirm the specific vehicle, any special requests, the pickup time, location and end time. Note that some special requests may incur additional charges; all should be clearly written out in the contract.
Be sure that you and the company mutually agree and understand the ending time for the rental. Some companies calculate it as the time your last passenger gets dropped off, while others determine that it’s the time the driver pulls back into its company parking lot. Also, confirm whether there is an extra charge to get dropped off at a location other than where you were picked up.
If possible, use a credit card for your deposit and payment. Paying by credit card may afford you some protection if unexpected problems arise.
As a parent of a teen attending a special social event in a shared limousine or party bus, you and the other parents may agree to meet before the bus or limousine arrives to take pictures. This is a great opportunity for you and the other parents to reinforce the rules and laws about teens not drinking alcoholic liquor, in a group setting with all the kids. It is also provides an opportunity for a designated parent to meet and speak with the limousine or bus driver and emphasize the importance of the rules for the evening.
“Before the limo leaves, it’s appropriate for you as a parent to advise the driver that you are not ok with your child drinking alcohol in the vehicle, and that you’re aware that the driver may be held responsible if law enforcement sees drinking in the vehicle by underage passengers,” Rubenstein said.
If the limousine that arrives is not as described in your contract, you should immediately contact the company to request a replacement. Some consumers have been promised one type of vehicle and without warning, been provided with a limo that was not as promised and totally unsuitable. If the company has no replacement immediately available, you may decide to utilize the available vehicle but request a price adjustment afterward. If you do not receive satisfaction from the company, you may file a written complaint with the Department of Consumer Protection at email@example.com.
For gentlemen renting formal wear, shop early for the best fit and selection – at least a month in advance, preferably two. Ask friends and relatives for names of shops they have found reliable. If possible, rent from establishments that have items in-store; if you have any last-minute changes or needs, they will be better prepared to help you. Have measurements taken at the store when you reserve your items. The sales associate should measure around the chest (including and excluding the width of the arms); the waist at belt height; hips; neck; and sleeve length from the center of the back. Ask whether the rental price includes minor alterations.
Rentals cost between $120 to $180 plus tax for pants, jacket, shirt, tie, cummerbund, shirt buttons, cufflinks, socks and shoes; additional items cost extra. When you leave a deposit, ask for a receipt that specifically details every item you’ve reserved and includes the date the items are due back at the store. Go in for a final fitting one week before the event for any slight adjustments or alterations.
When entertaining, don’t allow underage guests to drink alcohol in your home or anywhere on your property. Connecticut laws against serving minors extend to private property as well. Likewise, don’t serve any guests who are already inebriated, and for everyone’s benefit, have a variety of non-alcoholic beverages on hand.
“The minimum drinking age is 21 in Connecticut because we know it saves lives,” Commissioner Rubenstein said. “‘Bending the rules’ is breaking the law and putting family and friends in harm’s way.”
The Commissioner said his agency continues its ongoing collaboration with local police departments and the Governor’s Prevention Partnership to identify and take enforcement action against businesses that sell alcoholic liquor to minors.
“We intend to have a strong presence in local communities in the upcoming weeks and months,” Rubenstein said. “Retailers must also do their part to help assure that this year’s party, prom and wedding season is safe for everyone.”
The Department of Consumer Protection works to ensure a fair and equitable marketplace, safe products and services for consumers in Connecticut. For more information, visit the Department’s website at www.ct.gov/dcp.