"I know all the girls felt like princesses that night. I mean you see your handsome date, it's just the best feeling in the world," says Burlingame high school student Roxy Barghahn.
It was all planned. Forty friends would dine out in Burlingame and then op on a party bus to their prom in San Francisco. They paid a company, Think Escape of Hayward, $3,200 for a luxury bus, complete with dance music, karaoke and plasma TVs.
"We were thinking the bus was going to be better than Disneyland. It was just going to be magical wherever you go," says Burlingame high school student Jordan Tandowsky.
All dressed in gowns and tuxedos, they dined out and waited for the bus. And they waited and waited…
"Instead of us being at the prom, looking, you know, amazing like we all would have, we're sitting on Burlingame Avenue," says Tandowsky.
Almost 90 minutes after the scheduled pickup, they had another letdown.
"That spray painted bus showed up. We were so mad … we all poured into the streets," says Burlingame high school student Alex Donati.
They say it was a battered bus.
"The lights didn't work, the windows didn't work."
And worse, it was too late.
"By the time we got there, there was no reason because prom was almost over," says Barghahn.
"[It was] basically an empty dance floor. They were starting to clean up by the time we got there," says Harrison Anixter of Hillsborough.
On top of all that, Think Escape refused to refund their $3,200. So 7 On Your Side talked to owner Rajnish Sud. He did not want to appear on camera but he told us the bus had been stuck in traffic, it wasn't his fault, and he did not owe the kids any money.
"I think they were all very disappointed to be taken advantage of and losing the money because this was their deal," says Patty Anixter, Harrison's mother.
Later Sud told us he would only refund their money if we agreed not to air this story. We declined and we investigated. It turns out Think Escape is not licensed by the state Public Utilities Commission as required for limousine services. Sud told us he doesn't need a license because he hires other bus companies to transport clients. But he would not say who actually drove the kids that night.
"I would have never allowed my son and his date and these people to go off with a company that wasn't licensed," says Patty Anixter.
After we contacted the PUC it opened an investigation into Think Escape.
"The limo company has to provide evidence that they have a license and a permit to provide the service that they're offering," says Julie Halligan of the California Public Utilities Commission.
Halligan says Think Escape applied for a license a week after the prom but the company did not qualify.
"They're missing evidence of liability insurance, CHP certification and enrollment in a drug and alcohol testing program," says Halligan.
The kids felt cheated out of money and some memories.
The students still have not received their refund, but now the PUC has a MySpace page on hiring limousines with information geared for teenagers. See link below.
California PUC MySpace page: Tips on renting a limo