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Five On Your Side 'Instrumental' In Settling Rent-To-Own Payment Mix-Up

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Hundreds of Triangle students participate in school bands and orchestras.

Many rent-to-own their instruments, but when a Wake County parent's agreement did not work out, she called WRAL's Five On Your Side.

Musical instruments can be expensive, but regardless of the price, most people want credit for their payments.

Kathy Miller said that was not what happened to her.

Her son, Clay, said he liked to play the bass because it is a big instrument with rich sound.

"I want to be kind of a jazz musician when I get older and a lot of jazz players like the upright bass," he said.

Miller signed a rent-to-own contract for the bass with Mars Music in August of 2000. She agreed to pay $84 per month.

In late 2002, Mars Music went out of business and sold her contract to McFadyen Music.

By January, the Millers said they had paid about $2,200 for the bass, but when they called to check their account balance McFadyen Music said its records showed the Millers paid less than $500.

"It was like you were punched in the stomach. We felt really upset and couldn't understand what the deal was," Miller said.

She said a representative told her that if she could prove what she paid, they would credit her for half the amount.

"I said that's not good enough. I just couldn't afford that. That was just a lot of money," said Miller of the $1,700 credit difference.

McFadyen Music did not change its mind, so Miller called Five On Your Side.

Mike McWhorter, manager of McFadyen Music in Raleigh, blamed botched paperwork on Mars Music. He said it had incorrect information about the Millers' payments and whoever offered the half credit had made a mistake.

"I think the folks she had talked to there just got confused and obviously an error on their part, but everything's happy now," said McWhorter.

He immediately credited Miller's account. She paid the balance and now owns the bass.

Clay said it has given him more incentive to play.

McWhorter said he has heard from other parents who said they had similar problems with their Mars Music payments. He said he credited customers who could prove their payments and said he will help anyone else in the same situation.


Monica Laliberte

Five On Your Side Producer:

Lori Lair


Greg Clark