01.26.04

A call to the "In Your Corner" hotline comes from a young man,
a former football player paralyzed in a bicycle accident two years ago. By Brad Edwards


A PT Cruiser would be a dream car for any 17-year-old. It was donated to Kyle after his accident by a well-known college football coach that befriended Kyle during a fundraiser to help pay for the costs of the rehabilitation he needed.
 
The car was sent off to a handicapped conversion shop in Michigan, Freedom Motors Inc. that specializes in converting PT Cruisers. They would make it so a paraplegic Kyle's size could drive it. That costs $25,000, above and beyond the cost of the car.
 
Another company would have to install the hand controls later.

Here's the heart breaker, after all of the work Kyle can't get into it the car.
 
First of all, the converted doors don't open.
 
By pressing a button, the doors are supposed to come open and the gull wing is supposed to come up, allowing Kyle to get in. We press that and we have a jam.

Even worse, when the doors to finally get opened, which kyle can't do by himself, he can't get his wheelchair in.
 
The Morrisons even bought the special wheel chair Freedom Motors said Kyle would need to drive the car. That was another $28,000.
 
But, try as he might, Kyle can't get into the car.
 
"This a major battle here," he said. "I'm already hitting my feet against that box."
 
Yet another problem -- the head room for Kyle is only an inch and a half.
 
Now, the Morrisons said Freedom Motors told them it would be an inch and a half but did not say it would block his vision or be unsafe.
 
The company that was to install the hand controls refused to do so because of the problems. Kyle's father has been battling with the Freedom Motor Co in Michigan to take the car back if they can't make it right.
 
With $42,000 in the car, Freedom Motors said it will only refund $36,000, because they will only pay the wholesale price of the car. That's a little cold-blooded for a company whose mission is to help the handicapped.
 
"Like they've stated to me," Kyle said. "It's still just a business."
 
But it wasn't just business for Kyle. Everything associated with the accident and paralysis costs a small fortune. The PT Cruiser was a dream.
 
"I saw a brochure in rehab about this and thought, 'It looks pretty cool' and I talked to Bob Stoops about it and he was nice enough to help me get it with Norman Chrysler Jeep," he said.
 
But that bubble has burst. Now, Kyle will have to get a converted van and he'll need all the $42,000 in that cruiser to get that done. But, Freedom Motors won't go that far.
 
The company told me they can't refund any more than $36,000 because the car was not purchased from them, they just converted it. They claim they were given the wrong dimensions for Kyle, leaving him little headroom. It's not their fault, they contend. And, again, the company's vice president told me "business is business." And he won't budge.

But the company's web site has this message on its home page:

"Our mission statement:
To build and sell the best accessible conversion vehicles with the best service as judged by the customer.

We strive to serve our customers daily. This website includes detailed information on how we do business and about our custom vehicles. We are proud to offer a warranty on 100% of our work. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us either via phone at 1-888-625-6335 or via email. Also, please be sure to request your free videos and brochures!

We know that you will be pleased with the quality of our products and services. We are looking forward to a successful relationship between you and our staff."

I'm Brad Edwards, In Your Corner.
 
And, just to give you an idea of the expense: the conversion of the car for a handicapped driver cost $28,000. Then the conversion for hand controls so Kyle can drive is another $50,000.


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