Defenders' hidden cameras expose dirty secrets in limo business
Defenders: 'Limo King' tries renting out limos he doesn't actually own
DETROIT – People in the limo business are exposing those who give the industry a bad name. The Local 4 Defenders went to find a man who rents out an excalibur limo and calls himself the Limo King.
"My name is Kevin Dietz and here is my problem; we are getting complaints about you not owning any of these. You don't own these limos at all," said Local 4 Defender Kevin Dietz.
The first instinct of the "King," whose name is Mike Debinski, was to hide his face and flee.
"You don't own any of these cars," said Dietz.
"I'm helping to rent them out for my friends," said Debinski.
"You just have a website pretending to own cars and you don't own anything," Dietz said.
The Limo King has a website full of luxury cars. The problem? They're not his. So when Debinski says he can rent you one, he can take your money but he can't really guarantee the limo you see online will show up -- because they are not his cars.
"If you say you're a booking agent, maybe, but you don't, you say you own all these limos?" asked Dietz.
"Wow," said Debinski, slamming his car door.
And with that the King is on his way -- or is he? After crashing his Corvette and realizing his car is boxed in, the Limo King has little choice but to face the Defenders. Dietz showed him his flier advertising his fleet of luxury limos.
"You are not a limo owner," said Dietz. "This car is not yours."
The Defenders called the Limo King to rent out a pink party bus. Debinski doesn't own it but was happy to meet the Defenders at the bus and take their down payment, promising to hold it for the night needed -- May 2.
"There are prom kids that are going to want it but you are booking with us, so we are going to hold it for you," said Debinski.
The Limo King then rents the pink bus from the actual owner for less than he charged the Defenders and pockets the difference.
The next day when the Defenders sent in another customer to rent the same pink bus on the same night -- May 2. The pink bus can't go to both customers.
"Do you own that pink party bus," asked Dietz.
"We help rent it out for (a) buddy there," said Debinski.
"And if someone rents it over the top of your person, what happens?" asked Dietz.
"We don't double book it," Debinski said.
"You do double book," Dietz said.
As the Defenders went into the limo shop to talk to the real owner of the excalibur limo, Debinski followed them in and got an earful from the limo owner. He called out the Limo King, saying he is deceptive.
"You're a referral service, you're not a limo company. Tell people, be honest with them," the owner said. "When you're telling people that this is my business, these are my cars, that is a lie."
It's customers who pay the price, he said, customers who order online or order over the phone may run into guys who can't deliver on your big day.
The Defenders asked professional limo operator Patrick Mifsud about the dangers of limo booking agents like the Limo King.
"In the limo industry, if you show them a car, you should give them the car you show them," said Mifsud. "They act like they have the cars when they don't have the cars, and are making promises they shouldn't be making."
Mifsud said renting limos from people who don't own the cars is risky because they usually can make more profit by sending you an older car from a less reliable company.
"They might not have the right licensing, they might not be drug testing, so you don't know what's gonna show up, so you're taking a chance with your friends, family and kids," said Mifsud.
The Limo King is still running his business. Experts said if getting the right limo is important, take the time to go and see it, ask for proof of ownership and get it in writing which car will show up.
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