Local News

Raleigh Woman At Odds With Rental Car Company Over Skis

Posted September 27, 2001

— Most ski accidents happen on the slopes, but Mavorine Willoughby's accident happened on the highway in what could have been a scene out of one of Chevy Chase's National Lampoon Vacation movies.

She and her family took a ski vacation to the snow-covered slopes of Utah last January, but the trip started pretty roughly. The problem was the magnetic ski racks an Alamo employee attached to the car they rented at the airport.

"We heard this terrible, terrible noise and we looked back and the ski rack and the skis and everything were just blowing away," she said.

Three pairs of skis were damaged beyond repair after being repeatedly run over. They immediately went back to the airport and talked to an Alamo manager who agreed to pay for ski rentals.

He said everything else would be settled, so the Willoughbys went on with their vacation. But when they returned to the airport for the trip home, a different Alamo manager told them the skis would not be replaced.

"He just said it wasn't their fault. It was an act of nature. The wind blew it off, but we argued that the magnetic ski racks are what came off," she said.

So the Willoughbys filed a written claim with Alamo. The company denied it saying it's not "responsible for loss or damage of property left in or on the car."

"It's not right for them to not have to pay for those skis because it wasn't my fault. It was their fault. It was their equipment," Willoughby said.

Next, Willoughby complained to North Carolina's Attorney General. Alamo responded to that, saying the claim was denied because "luggage [was loaded] on top of the skis."

"That was absolutely not true. Every time I would talk to someone at Alamo, I would get a different reason why they wouldn't pay," she said.

Willoughby also complained to Five On Your Side. After a month of conversations, Alamo finally agreed to pay Willoughby the estimated $600 value of the damaged skis, saying it was going "above and beyond."

Though it does not cover the cost of the replacement skis she had to buy, Willoughby is satisfied.

"We got $600 and that's great. It's better than having to go to court," she said.

The Willoughbys are looking forward to trying out their new skis, but they say they will not be using magnetic ski racks again.

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