As the Allegiant airline employee pushed Valerie Roberts down the ramp to her airplane at the Clearwater, Fla., airport May 3, she reminded the man to take good care of her property.
"I said to him: 'Now remember, this is my wheelchair,'" she said. "He said: 'Oh, yes ma'am, yes ma'am, we got it.'"
When she boarded the plane bound for Rockford, her wheelchair was gate-checked and she was handed a claim number.
Several hours later, after the plane touched down in Illinois, the 63-year-old waited patiently to exit, allowing the other passengers to leave before she made her way to the front.
When she finally got off the plane, her wheelchair was nowhere to be found.
It took airline employees 30 minutes to find a replacement wheelchair, she said.
"They had a little bitty children's chair there," Roberts said. "I barely fit."
When she complained that her wheelchair was missing, an Allegiant employee had her fill out some paperwork.
"She said she'd get it back to me within 24 hours," Roberts said. "She said: 'We're going to find it.'"
But her wheelchair didn't show up the next day. Or the next week. Roberts said she called the airline repeatedly and was told each time that her wheelchair would be delivered to her house immediately, but it wasn't.
Still without her wheelchair May 14, Roberts emailed What's Your Problem?
The Rockford resident said she has used a wheelchair for almost 20 years, since breaking her back in two places in an auto accident. She is permanently disabled, meaning that although she can walk short distances, she cannot walk more than half a block at a time or stand for prolonged periods, she said.
Her fold-up wheelchair, which cost $939.75, is extra large to fit her frame and completely portable, she said.
Without it, she missed a doctor's appointment. With two relatives graduating soon, Roberts said getting her wheelchair back quickly was imperative.
"It's been almost two weeks," she said. Allegiant "keeps saying that they're going to send it to me, but I haven't seen it."
On Tuesday, the Problem Solver called Jessica Wheeler, a spokeswoman for Allegiant Travel Co. Wheeler called back a short time later to say the wheelchair had been located and shipped to Roberts via Federal Express the day before, prior to the Problem Solver's call.
In fact, the wheelchair arrived at Roberts' house at 1:03 p.m. Tuesday. But there was a problem.
It was broken.
"It weeble wobbles," Roberts said. "It looks like they scrunched it together and jammed it into someplace."
She said she tried to sit in it but it seemed too damaged to use.