A nine-year-old girl was left feeling devastated when a limo pulled up to take her on a birthday ride. Young Alice-May Henderson was supposed to feel like a pampered princess on the journey but was left bitterly disappointed. Angry mother Debbie claims the trip for the birthday girl and four friends was spoiled by the condition of the “clapped-out” limo which arrived. Now she is demanding compensation after complaining about a cracked window, split upholstery, the smell of fuel, and discarded wine bottles. Debbie had made the £200 booking with website Compare Limousines which passed the job to a local firm. Debbie said she was dismayed when the vehicle pulled up outside - after Alice-May had been getting a two-hour beauty treatment - for the next surprise on her big day.
She said: “At 3 o’clock a clapped-out run-down dirty and dinted limo drove up.
Words can’t describe how bad it was.
The kids were upset just by the look of it and I could not believe what I saw inside when we got moving.
There was a smashed cracked window, wine bottles left behind by a previous customer, junk like soft drink cups, oil diesel cans, even loose wires, it was so dangerous for kids.
The carpets were filthy and pulled up and the smell of the fuel was so bad we were all coughing.
I do not believe the limo should have been on the road at all, never mind for a child’s birthday party.”
Debbie said there were signs of rust, and dents in the bodywork, leading to the impression the car should have been driven straight to the scrapyard.
Debbie had also ordered a pink Hummer but the car which turned up was white and black.
The trip was from the family home to the Metrocentre at Gateshead.
Debbie, 43, of Gateshead, said she had been impressed when she made the booking after looking at the website.
She said: “It sounded an amazing way for the five girls to have fun so I paid them £100 by card with another £100 to be paid to the driver.
The first thing I noticed that was the colour was not pink and the outside of the vehicle looked as if it had seen better days.
I told the driver I was unhappy but he said if he didn’t get the money the girls ain’t getting in so I paid him not knowing just how much worse it was inside.”
Debbie said she complained to Compare Limousines and was at first told she would be getting a full refund but no money has been paid.
She said: “I can’t believe I have been treated this way. It’s appalling. I will never trust another limo company again.”
Compare Limousines promise customers their special occasions will be remembered for a very long time and Debbie said that is the case but for the wrong reasons.
The company was set up by two limo drivers who launched it to provide affordable and reliable bookings.
A spokeswoman for the company said Debbie’s complaint was exaggerated.
She said: “It is not as bad as she made out.
“The girls were having a good time and were singing along to the music.”
Asked about the broken window and the diesel fumes she said: “It was only a little crack and there was hardly any smell.”
She went on to say “we get these complaints all the time” and she compared the complaints to delays in flights where passengers demand compensation for trivial reasons.
She refused to reveal the name of the local firm which the booking was passed to.