Richards, along with her goods, arrived at her Durham home in March, but she said she's still waiting for the moving company to locate her missing items and pay her claim on items that were broken during the move.
Her biggest problem she said involved how the price for the move jumped more than $2,000 from her first estimate with her moving company, Gateway Moving and Storage. "A lot of hidden costs. It was the most horrible experiences. I've had some bad moving experiences," she said.
Richards signed a contract with Gateway Moving and Storage in January. The first estimate was for $4,300 after she said she gave all of her information over the phone to a representative with Gateway.
Closer to the date of her move from California to Durham, after talking again to Gateway, the next estimate jumped to $4,852. "We check everything off. We are both on the same page, 839 cubic feet, and it's gonna be this amount of money," she said.
On Feb. 28, when the movers arrived at her place and loaded all of her goods on the truck, the total cost for the move jumped again to more than $7,000.
"I say I don't have another $2,500. I didn't plan on spending $7,200 dollars on this move," said Richards.
Richards said they did offer to take items off the truck, but she'd have to pay the drivers to do that. "Now they turn nasty because all of my stuff is on the truck. I'm hostage," she said.
Richards paid what they were asking, and once the moving truck arrived in Durham, she couldn't believe what she saw. "When he opened that truck they had literally just thrown that stuff on the truck to get it here as fast as they could get it."
Everything was unloaded, but Richards said that led to more frustrations because items were damaged and she was missing boxes on the inventory sheet. Richards filed a claim with Gateway Moving and Storage for the loss and is still waiting for her claim to be decided.
Richards' experience is not unique, according to the Better Business Bureau. Gateway Moving and Storage has an F rating, and the BBB warned customers to use extreme caution due to unresolved customer complaints.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also has 13 total complaints filed on the company so far for 2019.
I got in touch with Gateway Moving & Storage, and a representative said they worked with Richards the entire move but that Richards agreed verbally and signed contracts related to the terms and conditions of the move which includes that there could be an increase in price.
The representative added, "The company has the customer on a recorded line going through what is called a verbal verification process. This process is mandatory for all customers and is company policy. The customer is required to verbally agree to the terms and conditions of the contract, as well as verbally agree to the terms of payment received from the customer." The representative added everything Ms. Richards paid for, she received.
When it comes to her damaged items and missing boxes, a representative with Gateway said, "On April 15, 2019, we received Ms. Richards claim form, and it was submitted to the claims department. At this current moment, the last update is that it is still pending investigation. Once there are missing items which are in the process of being located. The damaged items will be reimbursed, and final monetary supplement will be dispersed, once we either find the missing items or if need be, add the reimbursement of missing items to the total of the damaged items." The representative added that processing could take up to 120 days, due to investigative processes.
As for the BBB F rating and complaints, a rep said they don't pay for accreditation with the BBB, and blame their F rating on that.
The Troubleshooter Takeaway
- Do not sign blank contracts or agree to anything over the phone
- Look if the estimate is binding or non-binding
- Non-binding means it's just the mover's best guess, the final price is not determined until everything in on the truck and the services are provided
- Binding means they are required to honor that price as long as nothing changes from the inventory list
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has these tips on how to protect your move. You can also look up the company on the FMCSA's National Consumer Complaint Database where you can file interstate moving fraud complaints.
Here are "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move."
State law enforcement, transportation, and consumer affairs agencies are responsible for pursuing suspected incidents of moving fraud. You can find those agencies by state here.