They say moving is one of the most challenging life transitions a person can go through. We believe that and have definitely felt that over the last couple months. Our new home state of North Carolina has been incredible, and we can see us living here indefinitely, but getting to this point has been nothing short of a nightmare. A couple weeks ago Chris and I shared what happened with our moving company on IGTV–not for any sort of pity, but to be transparent about the moving fraud we fell victim of, and to hopefully shed some light for other people. Since then, we have received HUNDREDS of emails, comments and DM’s sharing stories of how this has also happened to you, your parents, your loved ones. It has been heartbreaking and also made us want to spread the message even more. Knowledge is power, and we can’t help but feel like if we only knew what to keep our eyes out for, we could have potentially avoided this catastrophe all together.
If you don’t follow us on Instagram and want to catch up, be sure to watch the video below where we share what has happened to us.
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In summary, we hired a moving broker (red flag! more on that later), who quoted us $26,000 for our full service move. We paid a hefty downpayment (red flag). Then after the moving company arrived, the bid doubled. And AFTER they packed up all of our things and drove the truck away, we were told it was going to be $85K. They had all of our things. They drove away. We felt completely helpless. It wasn’t until they arrived at our new home a month later that we were told by the truck driver that a lot of our things were put in a storage unit and not loaded into the moving truck to come to North Carolina.
It has required lawyers and legal action and MORE MONEY to get that storage unit opened but the good news is, we did and the rest of our belongings are actually supposed to arrive via U-pack this week! The video goes into all of the details and where we made mistakes and what we learned. If you’re planning a move–please watch and learn from us!
Many people have asked us to share the name of the company so they won’t use them and sadly, that probably wouldn’t help you. The company we used has already been dissolved and probably started again under a new name, and there are HUNDREDS of moving companies scamming people. We feel like it’s more important for us to do our best to educate our audience on what red flags to be aware of so we made a little graphic you can refer to or share with family and friends. We would love for this to never happen to anyone ever again, and the only way to do that is to share the message!
Keep in mind that these are just things to be aware of and should’t be interpreted as black and white, and some should be weighed more heavily than others. If you see one, proceed with caution. A handful of them? Beware and maybe turn around before you find yourselves stuck and deep in it like we were.
1. RED FLAG: All customer reviews are recent, and the business doesn’t show longevity
This is a sign that the company has possibly been operating under a different name before, received too many negative reviews, and has re-started under a new name with stuffed reviews. The moving company we used was even accredited by the Better Business Bureau and had amazing reviews! However, we didn’t notice that they were all recent reviews (possibly stuffed!). Look for history in the reviews and ask friends for their recommendations.
2. RED FLAG: Hiring a broker
A broker in this case is somebody who acts as an intermediary between the customer and a moving company. A broker gets a share of the moving fees, so in our case, it was in his interest to assign a fraudulent moving company to us because he knew he would get more money out of us as well. The price of our moving costs went up, and his cut of the pay increased as well. We recommend straight up asking “are you a broker?” We also did not know the name of our moving company until they showed up on moving day. Looking online, that company was already getting negative reviews rolling in but since then they’ve shut down and we assume they are already working under a new name. I know that there are probably legitimate moving brokers out there, but I wouldn’t work with one again.
3. RED FLAG: No in-person or over Zoom walk through of your home is conducted
Part of the estimation process should include some sort of a walk through. This is meant to give the most accurate estimation cost, and should be done well before any money is paid, and before any movers show up. Our movers actually had Chris and I send dimensions of all of our furniture, as well as the estimated amount of boxes. After their calculations, we were assured that he’s been doing this for over 20 years and that the price of $26,000 was fair (already double than our original estimate). With that should have come a binding estimate before they come and start moving all of our stuff. This price ultimately changed on moving day when the movers arrived because it was the first the first time the mover was seeing all of the stuff we had. If the moving company doesn’t do an in person (or over Zoom) estimation, that’s a red flag.
4. RED FLAG: Paying a large deposit up-front
We understand the need for deposits. We work with contractors all the time and this is a very normal part of the game. Our recommendation is no more than $1,000 up front. Before our movers even arrived we paid $7,000, and on the day they left our Idaho house with all of our belongings, we had to pay an additional $63K. At this point we were questioning what reason they even have to drive across the country and deliver our stuff because we had already paid them so much money. When they arrived at our new home, we were threatened to pay another $12K or they wouldn’t unload the truck (they stopped working until we gave them cash) and when we discovered all of our things weren’t even there–we knew we’d likely never see it with how much we had already paid them. DON’T PAY ANYTHING MORE than a small deposit up front. Anything more is a red flag that they could be planning something similar for you.
5. RED FLAG: Being asked for payment in cash
Red flag, red flag, red flag. Cash is untraceable. If they don’t accept basic forms of payment like card, or wire transfers, then run.
6. RED FLAG: Price increases after the movers arrive
At this point you are going to feel like you have no other options. We definitely did. You probably have to be out of your house in a few days or the NEXT DAY, and you’ve already made it this far so I guess you just pay the extra money? No. Not true. If they’re asking for more money than what was agreed upon in your contract, then walk away. They are likely trying to take advantage of you. They might even ask you to pay for the time of their movers up to that point, and for the time it takes to put all the stuff back but you can say no, and you should say no. If they didn’t give you the correct numbers then that’s on them. If they push back and threaten holding onto your stuff until you pay, it might be time to get the police involved.
7. RED FLAG: Not honoring the binding estimate contract after they’ve taken your belongings
If they come and evaluate your belongings, and if they give you a binding estimate, and if they don’t raise the price once they have taken your stuff, they’re likely not trying to take advantage of you. Hopefully you wouldn’t find yourself in this position if you were already on the look out for other red flags. You shouldn’t be expected to pay in full until you have your stuff.
8. RED FLAG: Movers taking your belongings to a storage unit without disclosing its location
To be honest, we didn’t even know that some of our stuff was tucked away in a secret storage unit until we were in North Carolina. The driver who delivered all out stuff actually tipped us off and even gave us one blurry photo he had. Our piano, and table, and treadmill, and countless boxes of unknown belongings were kept in there. We still don’t know if they were ever going to tell us about this unit, or if they were hoping to hold the stuff ransom to get more money out of us. If you ever hear mention of a storage unit without your consent, I would jump in the car right away and follow them there. Again, possibly a time to call the police. Because the storage unit was set up in their name, we weren’t able to access it without taking legal action (that takes time!).
9. RED FLAG: No tracking options given
Ideally there should be a way to track your stuff. Our only way of knowing where our stuff was, was by calling the mover directly and asking for information. He was always extremely hard to get ahold of.
10. RED FLAG: No delivery date given
If they don’t give you a delivery date–red flag. Your contract should even include a clause of what should happen if they do arrive late. An incentive for them to be on-time. To our relief we were given a delivery date, and they did arrive on that date (they technically arrived a day early and we had to negotiate and pay extra for them to hold it for one more day).
Again, these are red flags and you should proceed with caution if you see these when you’re deciding which moving company to use. Definitely walk away if you see even a few of these. Not worth the risk, and you should be able to feel really comfortable and confident with the people moving all of your belongings.
Other things to note is that you might be in trouble if they didn’t bring the right size truck in the beginning and said they’re going to have to get more trucks or put your stuff in a storage unit. And also if they end up hiring more people to help with the move and expect you to pay the difference in that.
Most people only make a move like this one or two times in their entire lives. Military obviously being the exception, but these companies know that. They know that your stability and reality is grounded in this move and you’re likely to get desperate–might have to take out a loan or max our your credit cards. Moving fraud can ruin peoples lives and again, we just don’t want to have to see anybody going through what we did.
Since we posted the video, we do have an exciting update on all of our stuff in the storage unit. We had no jurisdiction over the unit because it wasn’t in our name so we filed a court order to get it opened. After our mover was served, we were able to negotiate that the locks be removed and a crew of family and friends (my heart) arrived with a trailer and they loaded everything in. It was such a happy moment after all that we had been through and we slept really well that night. We hired U-Pack (a moving option that 3 members of our team used and had a great experience with), and we received confirmation yesterday that the truck was picked up and is in transit! Celebrating all the wins with this one.
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