by: Diana Davis Updated:
ALPHARETTA, Ga. - A ride on a prom bus turned out to be anything but a party for some north Fulton County teens.
Sixteen couples booked a more than $2,000 ride through Partybusnow.com for the Alpharetta High School prom Saturday night.
The website promised a luxury limo equipped with room for 36 people, big screen TVs, surround sound and leather seats.
Instead, the students told Channel 2's Diana Davis they got a much smaller SUV that they said was in bad shape.
"There was no AC, the radio didn't work. It was just
awful," senior Michael Natale said.
"The ceiling was hanging down, wires were hanging out," added senior Matthew Derito.
Derito's father told Davis that when the limo first pulled out both parents and the kids joked about its poor appearance.
"We looked at it. We didn't think it was our limousine and we said, 'Thank God we didn't call that limousine company because it looked like, frankly, a jalopy," Doug Derito said.
Derito agreed to pay the driver cash since he had no other alternative to get the kids to dinner at a midtown restaurant.
The limo was already late and with no room for all the kids, parents drove those who wouldn't fit into the limo to the restaurant.
Derito said the driver promised a proper substitute limo would be ready after dinner to take the kids from the restaurant to the prom, then home to Alpharetta.
Instead, they got a hotel-style shuttle bus that sat just 16.
Senior Joe Albano told Davis it was so crowded at least 15 kids had to stand and fell to the floor when the bus made sudden stops.
The students said the driver didn't have his eyes on the road, but was watching a basketball game on his smartphone perched on the dashboard.
Georgia's Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols said anyone booking a party bus or limo should check first to see if it's listed on the PSC's website. Partybusnow.com is not.
Echols said being listed on the website offers some guarantees
"That means that we check them out. We've made sure they have proper insurance. We've looked at their documents to make sure that they are sound as a company. If they are not listed with us, if we haven't had the time to check them out, then we don't have any recourse to really go after them," Echols said.
Davis went to the address listed on the Partybusnow.com website. It was a mail drop with no party buses or limos in sight.
Davis also called the man Derito said told him was in charge of the company. He did not return the call.
Since the parents paid
cash, there's little chance they'll get their money back.
Echols told Davis his investigators will look into the matter.