Bamboozled: Tape told the tale

 

Dayna Miller decided to stop at Sam’s Club in Edison to pick up a few items during a break from her job as a weight loss counselor.

Miller parked her 2007 Chrysler Sebring in the Sam’s lot, but before getting out of her car, she called a friend to see if she needed anything.

“Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man running at my car, and simultaneously heard a very loud boom as two carts stacked together crashed into my car,” said Miller, 45, of Clark. “The man running was the lot attendant.”??????????????????

Miller said she got out of her car to inspect the damage with the attendant.

They found a pretty sizable dent on the fender above the front passenger-side tire.

“He told me he tried to stop the carts from hitting the car, but he wasn’t fast enough,” Miller said of the attendant. “He said he’d never seen that much damage from carts.”

Miller said she asked the attendant to get the manager. The attendant told her to go inside the store and ask for the manager to fill out an accident report, she said.

So Miller said she went inside the store and waited for the manager.

When the manager arrived, Miller said, she asked if she needed to call the police.

“They handle these issues internally and it wasn’t necessary to call the police,” she said the manager told her. “He said he needed to take pictures — we went to the lot together — then I should shop and he’d need approximately 20 minutes to fill out the accident report.”

So Miller shopped, and when she was done, the manager handed her a copy of the accident report, she said. Miller said the manager told her she’d hear from the store’s insurance company in three business days, and in the meantime, the manager said he’d talk to the lot attendant and review the videotape of the lot.

Miller said three business days passed, and she didn’t hear anything. So she waited a little longer.

On Feb. 23, she received a letter denying her claim.

“The letter stated a customer left the cart in the lot on a windy day and they weren’t responsible,” Miller said. “I immediately called the claims rep. I wanted him to understand that it was two stacked carts and the lot attendant was working right there.”

Miller said she left a detailed voice message asking the rep to call her back.

No one returned her call.

Upset, Miller turned to social media.

She posted a picture of her damaged car, along with news of the denied claim, on her Facebook page.

Friends suggested she also post it on the Sam’s Club Facebook page, so she did.

fb“Sam’s ignored my post,” she said. “They have an active moderator responding to people on the page in real time, but the moderator ignored my post. I then commented directly to the moderator on other people’s posts, hoping to get a response. I was still ignored.”

Another friend suggested she contact Bamboozled, so Miller did.
ASKING FOR RECONSIDERATION

We examined the damage, the accident report and the claims denial letter.

Nowhere on the accident report did it explain that the cart attendant was working with the carts when the incident occurred.

It said, “Cart allegedly involved in damage to customer/member vehicle,” and the “Incident description” said, “Cart hits car.” It also said it was a windy day.

To a question on the form that read, “Does the store manager want to pay for this?” the manager wrote, “No.”

Based on the very limited information provided in the report, we can see how the claim was denied.

“We can only pay damages that are Wal-Mart’s fault,” the denial letter said. (Wal-Mart is Sam’s Club’s parent company.) “Based on our investigation and review of the claim, it appears that another customer left out their shopping cart and with the inclement weather it was blown into your vehicle. There is no proof of negligence on the store’s part…”

We reached out to Sam’s Club with Miller’s story and we asked it to take another look. It said it would, including a consultation of the video of the incident.

Later that day, Miller had good news.

“This is amazing,” she said. “I just got a phone call from the store and they are willing to pay in full. All I need to do is get one estimate from a local shop and fax it to a phone number, give them the claim number and they will mail me a check.”

Good news, indeed.

We reached out to Sam’s Club again to see why it changed its mind.

“After reviewing the video, it appears two carts unfortunately hit the member’s car. According to the video, the associate was helping load another member’s car when he heard a cart start rolling. He turned around and saw the carts rolling and ran to stop them but did not make it on time,” a spokeswoman said. “We apologize for the incident and look forward to resolving the issue with the member.”

We asked if the company had any comment on the lack of detail in the manager’s accident report, and if we could see a copy of the video. Our further requests were not answered.

Dayna Miller holds the accident report and claim denial letter she received from Sam's Club after she said her car was damaged by runaway shopping carts. Robert Sciarrino/NJ Advance Media

Dayna Miller holds the accident report and claim denial letter she received from Sam’s Club after she said her car was damaged by runaway shopping carts.
Robert Sciarrino/NJ Advance Media

Miller was very relieved.

“My car isn’t a new car, but I take very good care of it,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe they were rejecting the claim. Thank you. I’m so happy now.”

We’re glad we could help.

Have you been Bamboozled? Reach Karin Price Mueller at Bamboozled@NJAdvanceMedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @KPMueller. Find Bamboozled on Facebook. Mueller is also the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com.

 

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