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The Sham Story

This whole Web site is dedicated to helping you understand how to protect yourself against becoming a victim of a moving sham. To protect yourself, however, you have to understand exactly what the sham entails.

Below is a story that illustrates how easily an individual can fall victim to a moving sham. The names, dates and locations have been changed, but the message is unaltered. Before you hire a moving company imagine what it would be like if you were Tylor Crestin.

I needed to relocate from Scottsdale, AZ to Sarasota, FL. I had a great job lined up in Sarasota and was focusing on my career change. I know moving is a detailed process, but I was optimistic it would go smoothly for me. After all, I had plenty of time to research and prepare for the move and unpacking would be a snap, as my family and I could take our time doing it while acclimating to the new location. Unfortunately, it was a nightmare that I soon will not forget.

Everything started out smoothly. I obtained a moving quote from what I thought was a reputable moving company and was satisfied with the bottom line and the specifics of the contract. I did notice it mentioned providing packing material, but no price was outlined for this material. How expensive could packing material possibly be? It's a necessity for every move and I was sure it was provided at a minimal charge.
Mistake one - assume nothing.

The day of the move
The movers were due at my home at 8 a.m on Friday. By 11 a.m., they still had not arrived. I called the moving company. Santiago, the dispatcher, could not explain the lateness and assured me the movers would be there soon. I was under a time constraint to vacate my property in Scottsdale. I needed to be out by the next day, Saturday, to assure I and my belongings arrived in Sarasota before I had to start my new position on the following Monday. I thought a week and two days would be plenty of time. In addition, the moving company wasn't concerned about the deadline when I made the arrangements.
Mistake two - make sure the moving dates are in the contract.

Four hours after what I thought was the scheduled pick-up time, the movers finally show up at my door step. They seemed unorganized and weren't concerned they were four hours late. I was frazzled and was only thinking about the lost time. They assured me they would get everything loaded in the truck and we would quickly be back on schedule. It wasn't until half of my possessions were loaded in the van that I realized they were already running over on the amount of space that they said I would need. I immediately called the company and was quickly assured that there was nothing to worry about.
Mistake three - when someone says "don't worry" that's when you need to start worrying. Settle any overages before they finish loading the truck.

The moving van was finally packed after eight long hours. It's 8 p.m., I'm tired and have to prepare to sleep on the floor before the start of my long drive the next morning. When I set up the move, I was told my possessions would be in Sarasota by Wednesday. As the driver is leaving and after I signed a form I admit I didn't read thoroughly, I'm informed he's going to pick up a few more loads on his way to Sarasota. "Don't worry," he says. "Shouldn't delay my delivery."
Mistake four - forgetting about mistake number three.

Enjoying the Drive to Sunny Sarasota This was probably the only time during the move when I wasn't overly stressed. I was a little worried, but deep down, I was hoping everything would turn out fine in the end. So, we got off to a bumpy start. The movers technically still started the drive on Friday. They scheduled a few pickups on the way, but I'm sure this happens all the time. They are professionals and do this for a living. They must know what they are doing; otherwise they still wouldn't be in business.
Mistake number five - forgetting about mistake number one.

Arriving in Sarasota My family and I arrive safely in Sarasota. We're all looking forward to a new city with new opportunities. The walk through and closing went fine on the house. It was scheduled for Wednesday morning, hoping that would give us enough time to get things settled before the movers arrived by 2 p.m that same day. We were right on schedule, except for one thing no movers and more importantly no moving van with all of my possessions. I refused to panic, this couldn't possibly be happening to me. At 2:30 p.m., I hear the sound of a diesel engine coming around the corner. Thank goodness it's the moving van I knew I didn't have to worry (already forgot about mistake number three). The van stops in front of my drive way and the driver hops out and walks up to me with a clip board in hand. "Got a little problem," he says. "Your items were heavier than estimated you owe us $2600 more than the original estimate, plus there's an extra fee for the packing material. We can't unload the truck until you pay the difference in cash."

I was filled with rage. How dare they try to hassle me out of more money? Who did they think they were? When I refused to pay the difference the driver merely said, "That's your decision, but you're not getting your stuff until we get the money for the extra charges." After a few more choice exchanges, the driver turned around, got back in his rig and drove off with my possessions.

What could I do? I called the moving company and, to my dismay, the phone was disconnected.

Paying the ransom To make a long story short, I had to pay the additional charges. I tried to get it resolved, but after several days of achieving nothing I was forced to weigh the situation (no pun intended). My possessions cost me much more than $2600 (plus packing supplies, an additional $730). I had already started my new job and my family needed their things. I paid the ransom and finally had my furniture, clothing, toys, kitchen items, etc. delivered. Of course, to add insult to injury, many of my items were damaged and several boxes of my children's toys were missing. I'm in the process of filing a complaint but haven't had anything resolved yet.

If you take anything from my experience, make sure you watch for all the warning signs and do whatever you can to avoid becoming a victim of a moving scam. They are real and it could happen to you if you aren't careful.

Moving Links
How to Protect Yourself Against a Moving Scam
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Types of Estimates
A mover's estimate can take three forms
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
FMCSA's Moving Site
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Rights and Responsibilities when you move