KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Quinique Pike has 40 people coming to her birthday party on Saturday. She'd booked a party bus more than a month ago for the celebration.
She never had a clue anything was wrong until she recently discovered the party bus company had already billed her credit card. When she called to ask why, she discovered the company was shut down.
"I was highly upset because I was out $770 and I wasn't going to have a bus this weekend," Pike said.
That's why she called FOX 4 Problem Solvers, wanting to warn others. We told her that the two brothers who had been running KC Party Buses -- Nik and Austen Saylor -- are under federal investigation and have had many of their buses banned from the road for operating illegally -- often without proper insurance or even valid license plates.
Pike was understandably upset that her birthday plans were destroyed. That's where Kirt Snow comes in. He's the big-hearted co-owner of another party bus company. Snow told us he'd be happy to save Pike's special day.
"I knew there wasn't much that could be done except try and get her a bus at a discounted rate and get her taken care of," Snow said.
Snow, who's operated Kansas City Party Bus, LLC for nearly 10 years, said that what's happened to Pike is unfortunately not unusual.
Snow said there are a lot of illegal party bus operators in the Kansas City market. They can shut their doors without warning, and when they are open, will run buses without the required $5 million in liability insurance or Department of Transportation approval.
So how do you protect yourself? Before booking a party bus, you can download a mobile app called Safer Bus from your app store. The app allows you to type in the name or DOT number of the bus company. It will then tell you whether it's legally operating.
The app will also show you how many vehicles it's licensed to operate. That's important. Many shady operators will be listed as having insurance for one or two vehicles. But a quick look at those companies' websites often show they are operating many more vehicles than that -- vehicles that likely lack insurance and safety inspections.
Now back to the birthday girl. Kansas City Party Buses is giving her a bus for her birthday at half its usual rate.
"We know you had a bad experience with another company so we hope you will enjoy this service," KC Party Bus employee Mickey Munoz told a very relieved Pike, who's thrilled that Kansas City Party Buses came to her rescue.