I-Team Investigation: Is a local limo service taking customers on an unfair ride?


by Andy Treinen


Posted on February 10, 2011 at 7:20 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 11 at 11:18 AM

Lousville, Ky (WHAS11) - It a WHAS11 I-Team investigation into a limousine company with a lengthy list of complaints against it. The most recent complaints were after the Justin Beiber concert at the KFC Yum! Center.

So, WHAS11's Andy Treinen asked for some help from the city and got it, and then the I-Team went to work.

It was an abrupt ending for Affordable Limo Service in Louisville after years of taking customers for a ride, in more ways than one.

Most recently Kim Hoffmann and her daughter, Taylor, say they got burned on Taylor's birthday. They were part of a group that booked an affordable limo during Bieber fever. "She basically cursed me out on the phone and then hung up on me," said Kim, talking about a company representative.

Kim says the company was late, and then refused to pick up others in the party just 10 houses down. Kim said despite booking the limo for four hours, they were told it was only a pick up and drop off. "They told us on our way down there they might not pick us up and I said ‘what do you mean might not pick us up?’ So at that point, I poked my head through the window and I said ‘look you've got four children here. You can't leave them stranded’,” claims Kim.

Kim says she spent the entire concert in the lobby on the phone with the company, other transportation options and eventually police after she was told the company would only come back if she paid more money. Kim said her refusal to pay more prompted the woman to curse at her and hang up the phone

But police found out that night, and the city has known for some time, that catching unlicensed limo companies isn't easy.

"It’s sort of like trying to catch lightening in a jar," said Jim Mims, Louisville’s Director of Codes and Regulations.

WHAS11 first started looking into the company in May 2010 after several complaints during prom season and the Kentucky Derby.

We reported the company uses several names including: Ground Transport and Above the Clouds.  After the story aired, more people shared their complaints, along with calls from former employees and even an ex-wife. We learned that the owner of Affordable Limo Service is John Ballard.

In 2003, John Ballard was arrested, accused of robbery and impersonating a police officer. He also spent time in federal prison for credit card fraud. We shared that information with Mims. "This type of stuff is very disturbing, it needs to be dealt with, and gosh I would welcome learning more about where these operators stay, and at what times and I can assure you we will be after it," said Mims.

So, WHAS11 went undercover, armed with cameras and a small army of undercover officers offering support.

Find out what happened tonight at 11. You'll also hear some of the conversations captured inside the limousine with our undercover camera.

And we want to share a tip with anyone out there booking a limousine, or any other service online or via telephone: know who you're dealing with before you ever turn over your credit card information. And know where you would go for answers if something goes wrong.