Thursday, 30 October 2014

Vintage Bus Hire Ltd: the case of the bruised bridesmaids

Hiring a vintage bus for your wedding is a cute retro touch. It’s also a way of showing consideration for your guests and ensuring they get back to their accommodation safely. Unfortunately, for one set of wedding guests it didn’t quite work out that way.

The company in question was Vintage Bus Hire Ltd, based in New Romney. The bride’s parents chose this company for their daughter’s July 2014 wedding because it seemed like a classy, reliable business. They were reassured by the promise on the website that “The staff at Vintage Bus Hire have a wealth of experience providing buses for weddings. " They had no idea that this short journey would be an upsetting experience involving multiple injuries.

The bride’s parents booked a London Routemaster Bus through Vintage Bus Hire Ltd. It was hired to transport the party from the ceremony at Rye Town Hall to Udimore Village Hall for the reception, then back to Rye after the reception. The journey from ceremony to reception went fine.

After the reception, the bus arrived at 11pm as agreed for the return journey. There were two members of staff on board, the driver and another man. Both were dressed very casually and  behaved in an unfriendly manner, which struck several wedding guests as inappropriate – surely the point of hiring a vintage bus rather than a regular bus is to be part of the wedding experience?

One of the bridesmaids asked the driver if he could stop on the way back to Rye to drop off some of the passengers, including the bridal party. The driver seemed reluctant to do this, arguing that he couldn’t be expected to know where to stop. People described various landmarks to help him pinpoint the place but he said he couldn’t be expected to look out for them. He said that if people wanted the bus to stop anywhere except the final drop-off point, they should ring the bell when approaching the place.

So, as the bus approached the desired drop-off point, a guest rang the bell. The driver stopped the bus and several passengers got up to disembark. At this point, for no apparent reason, the driver began to pull away again. So, a guest pressed the bell again to signify that people wanted to get off.

At this point the driver suddenly braked into a violent emergency stop, the force of which was felt by everyone. The people who had been standing were thrown backwards onto the floor. A passenger who was standing on the stairs hit his head. Several people were hurt and shocked - including a pregnant woman and six young children.

Astonishingly, there was no apology from the driver or his colleague, despite the tears, the injuries and the massive upset. Both representatives of Vintage Bus Hire Ltd were defensive and rude.

It was a nasty ending to a lovely day. The next day, the father of the bride telephoned Vintage Bus Hire to complain. The person who answered the phone immediately became argumentative – again, no apology - and hung up on him. They are now refusing to discuss the incident at all. Vintage Bus Hire have also ignored a written complaint.

This blog post has been written to warn anyone thinking of using Vintage Bus Hire Ltd for their wedding transport. If you need any more persuading, there are photos of the bruises.