Half a home: Family missing half their belongings after movers fail to deliver
Approximately 950 people are moving to Florida each day, according to the 2020 ISG World Miami Report.
Stacy and Jim McCool are some of those people. They left behind the cold, Connecticut winters for Stacy’s health.
“If I shiver, and it really affects the MS and the Lupus because my bones are being affected so badly,” McCool said.
McCool and her husband hired General Moving and Storage (High Priority LLC), a Florida-based company, in late August 2020 to do the move – or so they thought.
“We thought that it was a moving company and then later found out that it was a broker,” McCool said.
A different New Jersey-based company with three different names, Pack Rite Movers, Easy Moving LLC, and Let’s Move America, showed up to take their approximately 80 boxes. Weeks later and behind schedule, McCool said only half their boxes arrived.
“The gentleman laughed. They didn’t seem to care.”
The McCools estimate they are out thousands of dollars’ worth of items, including Jim’s clothing, patio furniture, kitchen appliances, power tools, shelving, and Stacy’s son’s brand new, $600 mountain bike.
“My son’s bike I want to replace because he rides his bike to the bus stop. I’ve learned here in Florida, bus stops are actually a mile-and-a-half. But do I have the funds to be able to replace my son’s bike at this time? No. Why? Because I need to make sure that I have silverware.”
The McCool’s said when they called Pack Rite about what appears to be their replacement policy, the company offered them just $150.
Movers who cross state lines need to be authorized by the federal government, and they are assigned a Department of Transportation number.
To research a company, run the number on two different DOT websites. This site [safer.fmcsa.dot.gov] will provide a company snapshot, indicating if they are authorized and what they are authorized to do. For example, General Moving and Storage is listed as a broker, not a carrier.
The second site [ProtectYourMove.gov] will help you research the mover, listing the number of complaints and what they are related to.
WINK News discovered Pack Rite has more than 75 complaints on file since 2019. Then, after the McCools’ move, the company lost its interstate moving license. The DOT listed involuntary revocation as the reason.
Bryan Oglesby with the Better Business Bureau suggests making a checklist when you move.
“Ask the mover specifically for their licensing information, the legal name of their company, how long they’ve been in business, the owner’s name and information, and where they’re physically located,” Oglesby said.
Oglesby adds that when you try to hire a mover, the business should show up in person or virtually to eyeball what needs to go on a truck.
“If you have a mover just giving you a general quote over the phone, based on feedback that you gave them, how many boxes are sitting around your house and how many pieces of furniture that is not going to be the most accurate quote that you’re looking for,” Oglesby said.
The BBB website says it is illegal to charge more than 110% of the estimate before delivering goods, even if there are more boxes or goods than anticipated.
If there is an extra charge for additional goods, they can only charge an additional amount after delivery and unloading.
Movers can charge extra sums for unanticipated events such as climbing extra stairs, but these cannot exceed 15% of the total cost.
If the estimate is “binding,” they cannot charge more than quoted in the estimate.
Legally, the estimate must include all packing materials such as blankets, tape, etc., unless the customer does not want them included in the estimate.
MORE: BBB Moving Advice
If the move is within the same state, regulating agencies can be found here.
As for the McCool’s, they have filed complaints and are slowly replacing what they can.
“It’s going to probably take me years to replace everything that they’ve taken from me,” McCool said.
WINK News reached out to General Moving and Storage, the Florida-based broker who set up the move, and they hung up on us.
WINK News also reached out to the mover, Pack Rite, and they did not respond to our request for comment on this story.
And the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and the DOT, would not say if they are investigating Pack Rite.