Five tips for booking a better town car

There are many ways to get to the airport, from public transportation to sitting behind the wheel yourself. My preferred method is town car. I don’t have my own vehicle, and I don’t like having to hope I’ll find a cab – especially early in the morning or in the rain. Also, I got used to town cars during my stint as a management consultant. Choose wisely, and your trip to the airport will be downright pleasant. But, a bad experience can cause you anxiety when you’re leaving (rushing, missed flights, etc.) or impatience when you arrive and just want to go home.

It pays to do your homework. You do have the power to improve the odds. So, here are five ways to make sure your town car trip is exactly what you need.

1. You get what you pay for
Discount services will send beat up cars sometimes, and the drivers can be a bit unhelpful. But, you can wind up with a great car and excellent service. The problem is that there’s no sure thing. An extra $20 can usually get you better service and a cleaner, more comfortable ride.

2. You see the same mistakes
Everyone has shitty days, so it’s unfair to judge from one error. If you do, you could miss out on years of great service. But, if the drivers are routinely late or go to the wrong terminal too often, it’s time to call another company.

3. Your voice isn’t heard
Any company that makes it easy for you to complain wants feedback – this is important. If you call with a complaint and can’t get anywhere, find a service that will appreciate what you spend. I recently had this problem with Carmel Limo (which also violated #2), and the customer service team provided little help. I e-mailed the corporate office about customer service problems … and was told to contact customer service. That was my cue to move on.

4. Find a good small company
You may have to hunt around for a referral, but it’s worth the effort. You’ll have someone who can vouch for the car service, and the personal touch of a small business will be evident. Also, smaller companies will be more likely to give you the occasional upgrade or other surprise perk.

5. Spring for inside pickup
At some airports, you have to call when you land to have your car sent to you. Usually, you can pay extra to have the driver meet you inside: do this. Not having to wait when all you want to do is get home is priceless.

Remember: tip well for great service. It will be remembered and, as a result, is an investment in future treatment.