ORLANDO, Fla. — Action 9 exposes the high risk for consumers hiring movers online, especially if the companies are based in South Florida.
Our investigation found more complaints are triggered by moving companies in that part of the state than any other.
“Is this a $4,000 slap in the face?” Ulrich asked.
“Yes, of course it is,” Donna Curry replied.
That’s how much money Curry lost after hiring a South Florida company to move her belongings.
Online, she found Move Smart Relocation, located in Boca Raton, and paid a $4,200 deposit.
Curry claims the truck didn’t show up on moving day and before rescheduling, her family sent her the company’s social media reviews.
“What are you seeing online?” Ulrich asked.
“Terrible things. Terrible things. I mean there was nothing good,” Curry said.
She discovered Move Smart is actually a broker that gives estimates, collects payments, then hires other companies the consumer didn’t choose to make the move.
“How do you feel about the company now?” Ulrich asked.
“Oh my God,” Curry replied.
Action 9 checked the Move Smart website and the only disclosure that it’s a broker is in fine print below the copyright.
Curry demanded a full refund. A year later, she’s still waiting on a response, so she called Action 9.
Ulrich went to Move Smart’s South Florida address, listed on its federal license. Ulrich discovered Move Smart had moved out long ago.
A manager answered Ulrich’s phone call, but he would not say where the company was located.
“Here it is a year later and you still have her $4,200,” Ulrich said to the manager on the phone.
“Like I said, anything like that would have to go through our representation. Have a great day,” the manager replied before hanging up.
At the same address that Move Smart was supposed to be located, another moving company with a controversial record had moved into the office. That company had already been kicked out for not paying rent.
Within 30 miles of Interstate 95 north of Fort Lauderdale, Action 9 found at least a dozen moving companies that are responsible for hundreds of customer complaints. Most of those in just the past year involved hidden charges and property that was held hostage.
Action 9 reviewed complaint histories from the Florida Division of Consumer Services to uncover the moving menace in South Florida.
Some companies we had already investigated after local customers felt burned were also located in South Florida.
Sarah Bowie told Action 9 the mover charged five times the original estimate. The broker she called was in Delray Beach.
Victoria Harris blamed a broker after it took six weeks to deliver her furniture. That company is located in Boca Raton.
Luis Soto of Polk County told Ulrich that after hiring a moving broker he was hit with thousands of dollars in hidden fees. State records list that business inside of a strip center in Pompano Beach. Ulrich went to that location looking for answers.
“I’m here about a consumer named Luis Soto. He says the estimate was doubled,” Ulrich said.
“So what are you looking for?” a manager replied.
“I’m trying to get his money back,” Ulrich said.
Two state agencies link at least three different movers to that same location. According to federal regulators, those moving companies generated 550 customer complaints since 2018.
Another manager approached Ulrich and said all those companies are gone.
“This is not the moving company?” Ulrich asked.
“Get out,” the manager said.
“What company is this?” Ulrich asked.
“Get the ***** out,” the manager told Ulrich.
Since COVID-19, federal regulators say customer complaints nationwide about movers holding furniture hostage have more than doubled.
Finding a moving company online is a real risk.
“I really think people should check everything they do,” Curry said.
When hiring a mover, protect yourself, especially if there’s a South Florida company address.
Avoid brokers, insist on in-person estimates and use a credit card to pay.
There is a federal website, protectyourmove.gov, that helps consumers avoid bad movers. Consumers can also file complaints on that website.