It’s a routine ritual for every car owner – getting the oil changed. But one Midlothian grandma’s oil change was anything but routine.
When Roberta Slayton took her car to Midlothan’s Wal-Mart Supercenter this week, she was told the oil change would take about 30 minutes.
"So I went into Wal-Mart,” said Slayton. “I was going to do some browsing and snacking, and I didn't get probably halfway in and they paged me. I thought. ‘OK, this is kind of weird.’”
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When she got back to the bay, she saw her SUV smashed against the wall of Wal-Mart’s auto center.
The hood was crumpled like an aluminum can and part of the bumper lay on the cement floor. But the mild-mannered grandmother of 13 worried about the elderly Wal-Mart employee who had taken her keys.
"I was just more worried about the gentleman,” said Slayton.
But she said Wal-Mart rewarded her compassion by insisting that she pay to have her SUV towed.
"Their deal was 'get a hold of your insurance have somebody come tow it away,'” Slayton recalled. “And I said, ’I didn't do anything wrong. Why should I have to do that?’”
But a manager insisted she bear the expense of having her vehicle towed. And that’s not all. She said a representative from Claims Management, Inc., the casualty claims administrator for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., told her that the investigation of the incident would take two weeks and the company would not pay for a rental for Slayton.
"According to them, the throttle hung and caused the accident,” said Slayton.
Slayton drove the SUV every day and says she never had trouble with the throttle. And as the owner of Flowers by Roberta in Midlothian, she relies on the vehicle to make flower deliveries.
Now she's depending on a loaned SUV and looking for a used car which she can buy for cash. And as a business owner herself, Slayton says she’s shocked by Wal-Mart’s response.
"You know they [Walmart] say they’re family-owned,” said Slayton. “We are family-owned and we take pride in what we do and the service we give to people because it does come back on you.”
NBC 5 Investigates Consumer Unit contacted Walmart. Shortly after our call, company leaders agreed to pay for Slayton’s rental vehicle.
A spokesman told us by email, "We are investigating to determine what caused this accident, and we're working directly with Ms. Slayton to resolve this as quickly as possible."
NBC 5 Investigates will continue to follow this investigation.