Golden Touch Transportation Is A Shyster Car Service

Shonda paid for a private sedan to take her to and from the airport during a recent trip to New York City, but instead she got a shuttle crammed with other people.

When she complained to Golden Touch Chauffeured Transfers, they were combative and lied, even after Shonda enlisted AMEX to help.

A Dallas resident, Shonda’s good time with her boyfriend in Manhattan was bookended by the most classic of Big Apple experiences: dealing with assholes.

Now she’s been overcharged by Golden Touch by $68. She’s miffed.

Shonda: embrace the power of the chargeback. Call up AMEX and get the charges reversed. Boom.

Next time you visit New York, take a taxi to and from the airport. LGA to midtown should cost you around $30, including tip and toll. Both airports have taxi stands which are a bit more regulated than some of these shyster car services. — BEN POPKEN

Shonda’s screenshot of the Golden Touch rental, her letter of complaint and AMEX itinerary, inside…


Shonda writes:

    “Dear Consumerist,

    My story starts back on August 9, 2006. My boyfriend and I decided to take a trip to NYC. This would be my first trip to New York and we decided that since we have a ton of points from our American Express card, we’ll use those to cover most of the travel. Great.

    I go to the American Express rewards website, book our trip through them (turns out it’s actually Travelocity–this will figure later), and during the booking process, we are offered an option of travel to and from the airport through something called Golden Touch Chauffeured Transfers. On the AmEx website, you are given the option of a shared ride shuttle at $17.00 per person, or a car (for up to 3 people) at $73.50. Groovy.

    I decide that since this is my first trip that I want to do it right and opt for the car. (I had visions of being met at the airport by a guy in a suit holding a piece of paper with my name stenciled on it and being led through the city in a nice car, all of that.) So, I click that option, print the receipt and transfer papers and think all is well. Wonderful.

    Fast forward to October 18, the day before we travel. I called Golden Touch as their paperwork says to do so that we can confirm our pick-up. After holding about 15 minutes, I get through to dispatch to Chris, I think his name was, and try to confirm our car. He says that he sees our reservation and to call the local number once we have our bags and the shuttle will come get us then. “Shuttle?,” I think. So I tell Chris that we reserved a private sedan (their word on their paperwork that I printed out) and he acts surprised and kind of pissy and says just call them once we have our bags.

    Neato.

    OK, we get to La Guardia, and I’m disappointed that there’s no man standing there with a piece of paper with our name, but I call the number thinking that maybe they have cars waiting at the airport and then they will drive around to our terminal. I’ve never done this before so maybe that’s the way it works? After waiting around, we call again and they can’t find us. “Where are you?,” asks Chris. “We’re standing outside terminal B. Delta.” Ten more minutes, still no car. My phone rings and “Shuttle 2″ is on its way. Again with the shuttle? OK, so maybe that’s just an internal designation, I think. But no. Sure enough, here comes a van, with people already in it, and we have to pick up someone else. I’m pissed off and want to challenge it, but my boyfriend is tired and just wants to get to the hotel. “OK, I’ll fix it later,” I say. Marvelous.

    So we get to our hotel and the week in New York is more wonderful than I could’ve hope for. I would move there in a heartbeat. Excellent!

    Not wanting a repeat of the shuttle fiasco for our return to the airport, I call Golden Touch on the 23rd, the night before we leave, wait on hold for 20 minutes, get through to Chris again, and tell him what happened on the 19th and that we want our actual car, which paid for, to pick us up. Pissy Chris tells me that HIS reservation doesn’t reflect a car and Travelocity never told HIM it was a car and I needed to fax my reservation to him. Hell no, I think. I’ve already paid for this and through AmEx, not Travelocity.

    So I called AmEx travel and tell the very nice young lady (Jessica?) what has happened and she says that yes, AmEx travel works through Travelocity, and that she will call Golden Touch and straighten everything out for me and would I mind holding while she did it. OK, so I hold…and hold…and hold…and Jessica comes back on to tell me that she is still holding with Golden Touch so bear with her. OK, so I hold…and you get the picture. Finally she comes back and says that all is taken care of and that our car will be there at 11:00 the next morning. Beautiful.

    Aaaannnnddd, 11:00 am on October 24…guess what shows up? Another shared ride shuttle van and they want us to wait 30 minutes for the other passengers. “NO, I was supposed to have a car, my receipt says so, we confirmed last night, blah blah.” Too bad. We have to take the shared ride van.

    I’m not happy. I get home to Dallas and I want a refund. Hell, I would’ve been happy with a refund of the difference in price (Let’s see: 2 people in the shared shuttle at $17.00 x 2 trips = $68.00. We paid $73.50 for the ride from the airport and $62.50 for the ride to the airport. That’s a difference of, hey, $68.00!) So we’ve paid twice what we should have and didn’t get what we paid for. Lovely.

    I called Golden Touch and got Vincenzo. I tell him the situation and he says he will research it and get back to me in a few minutes. A few HOURS later, no call. So I call him back and now he’s not available. Of COURSE, he isn’t. What was I thinking? So I send an email. No response. Of course not. Now I come to the conclusion that I’m not getting my money back and no one cares. I think this is a scam but I can’t make them return calls or emails. Fantastic.

    Now we’re into November and I find an old copy of Reader’s Digest at the doctor’s office and there is Consumerist.com. Now, I may never see my money again, but here’s the deal: How many other people have been scammed out of money this way, and how many other people will they do it to? I can fax you all of the details because I’ve kept the paperwork. I don’t know why I kept it but I thought some day I might be able to do something about this scam.

    Either this is all Golden Touch, in which case Travelocity and AmEx should know about it, or two or three of the parties involved know about it and are involved in a scam together.

    Sorry for the length but there it is.

    Keep up the great work.

    Regards,

    Shonda

    P.S. My boyfriend wanted me to mention that we had no problem with the drivers. I even have the name of the driver from the return trip to the airport. (He was the best. An immigrant from Russia from 20 years ago, he was all, “America is the best country! Best place in the world! Such freedom!”) Basically, we don’t think the drivers had anything to do with this.”

Screenshot of choices:

http://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2006/12/goldentouchclip-thumb.jpg?w=522&h=515

Itinerary:

—–Original Message—–
From: American Express Travel [mailto:service@americanexpress-travel.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 09, 2006 1:09 PM
To: (redacted)
Subject: American Express Travel Reservation – New York La Guardia Airport Trip

[snip]

Ground Transport Details:
————————-
______________________________________________________
Provided By: Golden Touch Chauffeured Transfers, New York (LGA)
Tel: 1-800-253-1443
Date: Thu Oct 19, 2006
Type: Airport To Hotel
Quantity: 1 Car (3 per Car)
Status: Ground Transfer Confirmation – 21378XXXX
Voucher: (redacted)
NOTE: You must use the link above to print this voucher.

______________________________________________________
Provided By: Golden Touch Chauffeured Transfers, New York (LGA)
Tel: 1-800-253-1443
Date: Tue Oct 24, 2006
Type: Hotel To Airport
Quantity: 1 Car (3 per Car)
Status: Ground Transfer Confirmation – 213785512
Voucher: (redacted)

NOTE: You must use the link above to print this voucher.

______________________________________________________
Trip cost details:
——————

All prices are shown in U.S. dollars:

2 adults
Flight + Hotel Price: $2,213.08
Taxes and Fees (Flight + Hotel): $323.47
Golden Touch Chauffeured Transfers, New York (LGA) (Includes Tax): $73.75
Golden Touch Chauffeured Transfers, New York (LGA) (Includes Tax): $62.50

[snip]

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. humphrmi says:

    IMHO all the shuttles in NY are rip-offs. They promise you more than they can deliver, and then overworked and surley drivers give you grief when you ask for what you were promised. Their handling of arriving passengers at LGA is chaotic at best. Last time I took SuperShuttle, I was jammed into an already full van with my kids and no room for a child safety seat, then the driver shagged us all around uptown and midtown hotels to drop off other passengers first on our way to our downtown hotel.

    But there are good car services, not shuttles. I like Carey. They’ve always done right by me. If you google “carey” they come up pretty much top of the list. Also I recently had a very good experience with Empire, although that was out of Newark, not New York.

  2. Sheik says:

    I once took a car, not a cab, from Astor Place to a hotel right by Newark Airport. The dude got lost we had to go over the bridge three times. It ended up costing us $100, and the driver was swearing at us the whole time. Needless to say Ill take a taxi next time.

  3. acambras says:

    Yeah, a cab is just as good. It costs a lot less and the drivers know what they’re doing.

    I think a lot of people who’ve never been to NYC have this image of NYC cabs as being filthy and unsafe vehicles driven by charlatans who speak no English. Actually, NYC cabs are pretty strictly regulated — you know what you’re getting.

  4. homerjay says:

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:
    C H A R G E B A C K!

    If nothing else, it will get their attention. You also have a pretty good chance of getting ALL your money back if they don’t dispute it properly.

  5. Sheik says:

    Homer…
    Very few cars take cards. Ive only ridden in one the whole time Ive lived in NYC. I have never seen a private car company that took cards, but can’t vouch for them cause I stopped using them long ago.

  6. Sudonum says:

    Sheik, I think Homer was referring to the fact that Shonda made all these arrangements though AMEX. The easiest card in the world to dispute a charge with.

  7. cindel says:

    I’ve always take the Supershuttle so I’m know what I’m getting however I refuse to prepaid which is what their services are now required to do. I always tell them CASH ONLY.

  8. weave says:

    I had opposite experience many many years ago when I was just 20 and naive. In my area, airport shuttle vans are referred to as airport limos for some reason. When my new wife and I arrived at SFO we had to figure out how to get to the hotel and saw a sign for an airport limo service, picked up the phone, the price was reasonable, and we got picked up by a stretch limo and got a private ride downtown. Was fun!

  9. A cab ride from DIA to Downtown Denver? $50 bucks.

    For Boulder, it’s like $75.

    And people say NYC is expensive.

  10. valkin says:

    Shonda, you’re dealing with Amex and they jump all over this kind of stuff. Dispute the charge. There’s no way you’re paying for this.

  11. homerjay says:

    Sheik:
    She clearly prepaid for this via the website using AMEX. If she was paying in the shuttle, this would have eliminated a bunch of the problem since she would have paid the lower price. As it is she paid for something she didn’t get.

  12. Hug It. says:

    All-State (212-333-3333) is just as crappy. They’ll just blow you off rather than sending a communal van. Horrid.

  13. Papa K says:

    I landed a cab from LaGuardia to 42nd and 6th for $40 – my friend from brooklyn said it’d be about $45 – and I found the cabby when I landed. His name was Tony, drove a beat up van, and got us there quick. I love New York.

  14. Denver International is in the next county right? It’s an hour from downtown.

    I love NY cab drivers. The best ones tell stories the whole way. Had one where we argued baseball for 30 minutes. I told him about deadspin. Huzzah!

  15. Technically it is in the same county [Denver], but it’s way out in BFE. It takes about 30 to 45 minutes to get downtown [with no traffic].

    The best bet is to take a limo [they're only $25 one way] or the RTD shuttle [was $5 last time I think].

  16. LeviPelican says:

    Taxi schmaxy – For Manhattan the M30 bus and subway are awesome if you’re money conscious at all. Very predictable.

    I’d say across the board, shuttles these days SUCK whether you’re being picked up at home or from the airport (recent experience with this at LGA and in San Francisco, but at least the shuttle service refunded my money).