What a bunch of hacks!
The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission last Friday raided a cab stand set up by Ikea at its Red Hook superstore, beginning an investigation into the apparently illegal use of the name “Cobble Hill Car Service.”
That name has long belonged to a company owned by Vito Balsamo, who learned about the imposter after The Brooklyn Paper wrote about the new cab stand — and after he started receiving complaints from passengers who said the imposter company overcharged them.
“I’m the guy taking all the heat. People are calling me saying, ‘We thought you had a reputable company,’” said Balsamo, who opened Cobble Hill Car Service in the 1960s. “I don’t want to be responsible for anything these people [the car service] might do.
“I’ve received 30 complaints,” added Balsamo. “One guy said his wife and daughter were charged $285 to take a bathroom set over the bridge [into Manhattan] in a van.”
The phony livery company operated for more than two months until last week, when a lawyer for the genuine Cobble Hill fleet informed Ikea of the apparent name infringement. The dispatch stand near the exit to Ikea then took down the sign.
Then, the TLC moved in.
Ironically, Ikea brought in the sham company to restore order to the welter of drivers jockeying for illegal pickups in front of the store this spring, which in one case led to one cabbie attacking another driver with a baseball bat.
A spokesman for the Swedish home-furnishings giant said it was duped by the name-copying company.
“We were under the impression there was some sort of loose affiliation with Cobble Hill Car Service,” said Joseph Roth.
Ikea promised that a smooth ride for customers is just around the bend.
“We are investigating that all interaction with customers with this particular representative and car services, in general, are straightforward and accurate,” Roth said.
— with Robert Voris
©2009 Community News Group
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