RALEIGH-DURHAM, N.C. — A group of Kerr-Vance Academy students was all dressed up with nowhere to go on prom night after the limousine they had rented failed to show. The 20 friends decided they wanted to ride a Hummer to the prom, and they pooled their money to rent one from a limo service. They found Durham-based Rollz Royce Limousine on the Internet, and they said owner Rich "Skippie" Graham told them everything they wanted to hear on the phone. "I felt that he was a pretty trustworthy guy. I mean, he told us all about it. He was very, very polite," student Victoria Satterwhite said.
Teacher and parent Tina Abbott collected $1,350 from the teens and paid Graham for the rental. Graham said he required full payment up front because he didn't trust teenagers, she said.
The day before the prom, Abbott said she called Graham to confirm the details and was told the limo needed repairs and was unavailable. "I was so upset. I was trying to be calm about it, but I knew I had 20 kids counting on this ride the next day," Abbott said.
"We were all really upset, but we thought, 'OK, at least we're getting our money back,'" student Tyler McDaniel said. The teens and Abbott said Graham repeatedly promised a refund. But they said he no longer answers their phone calls.
So, they called 5 on Your Side for help. A quick check found other teens who said they were owed money by Graham after paying for and not receiving limo service.
Landon Hawkins of Carrboro said he and his friends rented a limo for their prom two weeks after Kerr-Vance Academy students did. Graham called them on their prom day to say the limo was out of service, and they haven't received their $490 back, Hawkins said.
Carl Davis Jr. of Warrenton said he paid almost $700 to rent a Rolls Royce from Graham for his prom. Three hours before the event, he said, Graham called to say the car was broken, and he hasn't provided a refund.
"It's made us all very angry. We want our money back," McDaniel said. The addresses listed by Graham for his business were at his parents' home, a shopping mall, and an office building. There was no sign of Graham or any limos at any of the addresses.
A message on the toll-free number on his website said the company now goes by the name Favor Limousine Service. In a telephone interview, Graham told 5 on Your Side that "everyone can have a refund" when he was asked about the $2,540 he collected for limo services he never provided to the three groups of teens.
"Things don't happen overnight," he said, adding that he would have his "legal department" call 5 on Your Side for more information. No one has called since.
While the students await their refunds, they are warning others to beware. "It's wrong. I mean, you don't do that to people," Satterwhite said.
Graham, again on Monday, promised refunds, he told WRAL's Monica Laliberte.
A representative of the North Carolina Limousine Association described Graham as "a bad seed." She recommends customers check the association's website for members and also recommends they go to the business to see the limousine before renting it.