CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Have you ever heard of rogue movers? Consumer experts explain they’ll charge you more than you agreed and your stuff may arrive damaged or never even get there at all.
Heather McCrea is no rookie when it comes to moving across the U.S. The Northeast Ohio native was moved by her employer half a dozen times.
This time though, she was living in Connecticut and wanted to move home to Cuyahoga County. This move she was doing on her own.
“I was getting quotes all over the place," she said.
She decided on a New York City based company. 19 News decided not to name the company because a police report wasn’t filed in this case.
“They had a really good sales guy. He was so good,” Heather explained.
They had the lowest quote of about $4,200. She signed a contract in May 2017.
“I did the estimate over the phone, without having somebody come to my house," she said.
She only realized later that was her first mistake when it was too late.
When moving day came, Heather said her seemingly easy move became a nightmare.
“They probably got about maybe a little more than halfway loaded in the truck," Heather said.
Suddenly, she said, that $4,000 estimate nearly tripled.
“This is looking like it’s going to be closer to an $11,000 job," she said the movers told her.
Heather had no choice.
“This was on a Friday and I was closing on the house on Monday, so I had to be out of the house,"
She told the movers to stop loading the truck on the spot and came to an agreement of $7,500 total to transport what was already loaded.
That was her next mistake.
When she got to Ohio, she said she was told she would need to pay $3,500 more to even get her items off the truck.
“They have your stuff hostage and they would not unload my stuff unless I gave them a check," she said.
The move cost her $11,000. That doesn’t include the U Haul she rented on her own after the movers told her the truck was too full.
The total was significantly higher than what she insists she was originally quoted.
BBB Greater Cleveland President Sue McConnell calls this a case of rogue movers.
“It’s just a horrific nightmare because we don’t move that often, so typically when you’re searching for a mover, it could be a new experience for you,” McConnell said.
The company Heather used has nearly 50 nationwide complaints on the BBB website.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) shows 80 complaints against the company from 2017 and 2018.
Many of them are complaints for things similar to Heather’s like estimates and final charges, loss and damage, even a complaint for something called “hostage.”
Plus, the company’s license to operate is suspended for failing to pay fines.
According to the out of service order issued in October 2018, it means the company legally can’t operate out of state.
We tried calling them and got an automated recording stating the number was out of service. The company’s website is also no longer in use.
To make matters worse, Heather said many of her items arrived damaged.
“I would probably say 50% of my boxes were open," she explained. “I don’t think I had one wine glass that survived this move.”
Heather said some didn’t even make it at all.
“I didn’t get my chair, to this day.”
Only 25 moving companies in the Cleveland area are registered with the federal government.
FMCSA says movers are required by federal law to give you copies of booklets for interstate moves.
According to the feds, more than 5,900 people filed moving fraud complaints in 2018.
39% of people reported loss to damage or property and 57% of people report being overcharged.
“You might save some money going to one of these rouge movers, but it’s going to cost you a lot more in the long run," McConnell explained.
Heather says for her, it was certainly a learning experience. The chances of getting her money back, experts believe is very unlikely.
“It was bad. It was so bad," Heather said.
Here’s what you can do ahead of time to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.
- · Check out the BBB and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrations websites
- They have both reviews and complaints
- Get insurance coverage for your goods
- Preferably insurance that isn’t provided by the moving company
- Ask if your move is being handled by them or a third party
- Have movers come to your home for an estimate and get the quote in writing
- Make sure the movers get a good look at all your stuff before they load it
- Make an inventory list of all your items and take pictures