Where’s My Stuff??!!

Rather than inundate you with the pages and pages and pages of background research I have…I’m going to address this with bullet points about HOW this happened…and how you can prevent it from happening to you….

 

*Here are your rights as a North Carolinian when dealing with movers: Rights. If you are using a North Carolina mover, make sure that they are certified with a “C” number…you can call 919/733-4036 to find out if your mover is. That number *should* be displayed in their advertising. If your mover is from another state…call that state’s Department of Consumer Affairs (or the like) to inquire what the regulations are surrounding movers and whether or not your mover is registered with the state. Note: not all state’s require and or enforce regulation. (Reason why there is very little that Trish can do about her situation.)

*Trish found this company on a Google search. On a customer information site she put in her information (date of move, estimated boxes, location, etc). She was inundated with bids soon after. I tried the same thing…I went on movers.com and put in the basic parameters that Trish used…my phone began ranging off the hook in minutes and continued for days! These websites send out your information to many different companies. Essentially you are putting all of your contact information onto the ethers…and you dont know where its going. Kathy Graham of the Coastal Carolina BBB says ALWAYS DEAL LOCALLY. People in your area have likely worked with the movers in that area. You can ask around. You can check out their reputation on the BBB’s Website. Also, if you deal with a company you can meet and speak with in person…if something goes wrong you know WHERE to go..and WHO to speak with.

 

*Another note on using the web to search for companies….any time I am looking for a product and/or service…yes, I use the web to look for suggestions, much like Trish did…however, when I find a few that I’m interested in…I always type the company’s name along with “review” into the search bar. This usually pulls up any customer reviews of a business. If you see an onslaught of poor ratings and negative reviews, bring those to the attention of the company and ask for an explanation. Sometimes competitors post bad reviews online to steal business…but sometimes customers have real reason to complain! The day after I met Trish I did exactly this on “JYS.” If she had done the same she would have seen much of what I was able to extract from consumer reviews online….and I bet she would have hesitated on her selection. Also see if you can contact the people who posted those reviews to get specifics…this is how I got more information on JYS’ background…by following up on those posts to see if they were credible. Please, please, please…always cross check with the company…their response will tell you a lot about whether or not both good and bad reviews have any weight.

 

*Trish was demanding from day one that JYS tell her WHICH storage unit they were using. Interestingly, there is one right down the street from her house….but they decided on Carolina Storage…and denied her the information about that location. When she called they never seemed to remember which unit they had signed a contract with..or they simply wouldn’t return her call. If your moving company says that they are going to place your items in storage…make sure that YOUR contact information is on the storage contract and that you also have a copy. Not only did Trish not know where the unit was…she also didn’t know that the rent on the unit was only $100…while she was paying JYS $287.

 

*Carolina Storage checked out with the BBB. I sent emails and made calls to Rocco Campagna (also known as Rocky) but he never responded. I have the email receipts and I also spoke with the manager Pat August. I simply wanted to know why he had gone to his own auction. Mr. Campagna is a local entrepreneur who has done quite well for himself…which is why Trish can’t figure out why he went to a unit sale…from what I observed…many of the units are just filed with people’s odds and ends…sometimes just junk…and no one is supposed to know whats in the unit until the crack it open. Eventually I heard from their lawyer, Jefferey Keeter whose office is in Downtown Wilmington. Jeffery and I had a long talk…he was very helpful. He gave me the North Carolina statutes that say that an owner CAN go to his or her own auction as a buyer. Carolina Storage followed the rules surrounding the auction. He gave me the  long “Communications History” between Carolina Storage and JYS where the company had tried to notify them that rent was due…and gave fair warning that the unit was going up to bid. None of those inquiries were returned.

 

*Their lawyer told me that Rocco had basically given the stuff he bought back to her when she contacted him. Trish tells a different story. She told me that her encounter with him was downright scary. They got into an argument and Rocco didn’t have answers to where her antique bed and her personal computer were (I have not been able to confirm the buyer of the computer…Trish says she has narrowed it down to him.) The bidders at the auction, who I also spoke with, said that he was “bullying” and that he dominated the sale of Trish’s unit…buying up most of the items and then proceeding to search through other people’s boxes to find what he wanted. While it is…unfortunate….that someone would be so disagreeable to others…its not illegal…nor is his purchase. Trish’s concern was the situations’ peculiarity…she just wanted answers from Campagna and didn’t feel like she was getting them. I really hoped that Rocco would speak with me about this. Until he does…I can only report to you the perspective of the bidders and of Trish.

 

* Tracing JYS..and their new identity – 24 Hours Moving – was months in the making. If you want to do a background check on a moving company use the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. They provide very thorough information on a moving company’s complaint history. They were able to connect me with officials in Florida (at their Consumer department…NC has one too) who provided me with the actual reports. The FMCSA says that 74% of other national moving providers have a better safety record than JYS. 24 Hours didn’t have much of a history. Interestingly, the FMCSA says that they DID have a complaint form 24 Hours that dated back to *2005*….(but didn’t they change from JYS to 24 Hours in the winter of 2008??!!). Officials at FMCSA say that could be indicative of the company hop scotching from one name (and address) to another. I tried to research that report more but there was little information so I can’t confirm or deny that this is in fact the case.

 

* My communications with the movers were….”challenging” shall we say?? Their phones work…and then they dont. Here is their website. The same people (Lisa Lopez and Eran Still) can be traced to both companies. The address for each company (JYS and 24 Hours) always seems to differ depending on the documentation but the phone numbers and street addresses always stick. Lisa engaged in a few email conversations with me…they are EXTREMELY hard to understand. I spoke with a friend of Eran Still who said that the whole company was “a big mistake” and that Eran was “incompetent.”

 

* Here are some important questions to ask your mover that the FMCSA sent me:

  • Is the company registered with the state? Note that not all states require and/or enforce registration.
  • How long has the company been in business?
  • Does the company offer extra services, such as packing, unpacking and storage?
  • What type of protection does the company offer against loss or damage (full replacement cost, depreciated value, or the basic 60¢ per pound valuation carriers are required to provide)?
  • Does the mover have a good reputation for settling claims?
  • Does the company offer arbitration for claim disputes?
  • Does the company have a good record of meeting its delivery schedules?
  • Can the company provide proof of worker’s compensation coverage, general and legal liability coverage?

 

*If you run into a situation like Trish’s…or even close…FILE A COMPLAINT so that detectives can start working!  Call 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238). You should also contact your State Attorney General’s.

 

* Trish’s home was estimated to be worth $100,000. Her homeowners insurance wont go to cover this. ALWAYS check out your mover’s insurance!! They need carrier insurance and that insurance amount should be the value of what’s inside. When I called JYS’ old insurance provider…she told me that JYS was insured for about $5,000….(remember…Trish’s home is worth $100,000). You can also investigate a mover’s insurance on FMCSA’s website.
*Finally, from the many conversations I’ve now had with Federal and state officials about movers…there seems to be a consistent opinion about state “hot spots.” I’m told that Florida and Texas are likely places of origin for dubious moving companies because the regulations surrounding movers in these states are more relaxed (as compared to others). New Jersey and California were also mentioned….just something to think about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. Nice post! Keep it real.I have looked over your blog a few times and I love it.

  2. Thanks for posting these useful information. Keep them coming

  3. Interesting points! I was actually thinking about this topic last night and this morning (particularly how to incorporate it into my own blog). Thanks for the tips, bro!

  4. Great job with the info. How did you find it? Please let me know.


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