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Bus companies leave customers stranded; refunds uncertain

Buses parked at the offices of Classic/Luxury and

Buses parked at the offices of Classic/Luxury and 7 Bus lines in Bohemia, Sept. 7, 2016. Credit: Ed Betz

Three Long Island bus lines that carried visitors to the Hamptons and commuters to Manhattan left hundreds of riders stranded after the companies abruptly went out of business last week as part of a bankruptcy proceeding.

Bohemia-based Hampton Luxury Liner, 7Bus and Classic Coach suspended service after Labor Day, when a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee told them to cease operations.

Lauren Wire, 28, of Manhattan, was hoping to spend last Sunday tasting wine at vineyards on Long Island with five friends. The four-hour wine and music tour she booked through deal site, paying $165 for two, didn’t happen — the tour bus never picked up a group of about 40 people waiting in midtown Manhattan, she said.

“We then decided to rent a car for more than $200 and went out to the Hamptons because we had people visiting from out of town,” said Wire, adding she disputed the Pulsd charge with her credit card company.

Mareza Larizadeh, chief executive of Pulsd, said the company was not informed by Hampton Luxury Liner that it would be ceasing operations. The bus line had bookings with Pulsd through Sept. 25, but its last tour with the company was on Sept. 4, he said.

“We are refunding all of our members who were unable to go on the wine tours,” Larizadeh said Tuesday. “We have already processed $3,400 in refunds for our members since Saturday.”

LivingSocial, another deal site, also has been refunding customers who were unable to use its vouchers for tours with Hampton Luxury Liner, a company spokeswoman said.

Last week, a federal bankruptcy judge in Central Islip approved an auction to sell the 27 vehicles belonging to the three bus lines. The auctioneer guaranteed a minimum of $2.35 million from the auction, which may occur in mid-October.

“Unless the sales generate enough money to pay the secured creditors, [customers] may not be paid,” said Marc Hamroff, managing partner of the Garden City-based law firm Moritt Hock & Hamroff.

Hampton Luxury Liner filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2015. Classic Coach filed in March. 7Bus has not filed.

Salvatore LaMonica, an attorney for court-appointed Chapter 11 trustee Allan B. Mendelsohn, said yesterday that those who believe they are owed money should file a claim with the bankruptcy court in Central Islip.

Mendelsohn said customers would “get paid ahead of other creditors,” but cautioned that Big Shoulders Capital, a Chicago-area financing services company that owns the buses, has to get paid first. Big Shoulders is owed more than $2.5 million.

Customers who booked directly with the bus lines may be able to file a claim up to $2,850, said bankruptcy attorney Gary Fischoff, a partner at the Berger, Fischoff & Shumer law firm in Syosset. But if customers bought a deal through a website, they should try to get a refund from the site or dispute the charge with their credit card company.

“Anyone who has a claim should file it now, so they don’t miss the filing deadline,” Fischoff said.


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