Bamboozled: Moving company holds stuff hostage
It has been more than a year and Patrick and Michael Buckley – twin brothers – lost thousands of dollars after a moving company they hired to hold onto their possessions went down.
All they want is their things back.
It all started in June 2016 when Patrick Buckley signed a contract with Fastway Moving of Secaucus. The company was supposed to pick up furniture and other items from his Morristown apartment, as well as his brother’s items. The company would store the items until the brothers had a destination for them.
The move would cost $ 660, paperwork showed. The first two months of storage would be free and then cost $ 105 per month. The withdrawal would cost another $ 660.
On July 6, 2016, workers came by truck and loaded the items. Then the first red flag was hoisted.
“They tried to bill me more that day, but I had emails that showed the cost was $ 660,” said Patrick Buckley, 53.
Two weeks later, Buckley called the company to check storage costs.
Everything was good.
But when fall came winter, Buckley found that he had not received monthly inventory bills.
It took him a while to get to the company, but when he did, a representative said the monthly cost would be higher – $ 247.50 per month – because the stuff was taking up more cubic feet than expected. Buckley argued that this was not what he was promised.
More months passed and Buckley still received no bill.
Finally, in March, he was worried.
“I became concerned and insisted that they send me photos of my things in the warehouse,” said Buckley. “They gave in and sent me six photos, both of the outer wooden boxes and the insides of some of which I recognized my furniture.”
With proof that his things were still there, Buckley wanted to make sure his account was up to date.
He said he had been instructed to send a money order for $ 735 – seven months at $ 105 a month, and the price would go up after that – to an address in Kearny.
Fastway said it never received it so they stopped paying and sent another money order. This one was received, he said.
In April he sent a personal check for $ 247.50.
For the May payment, Buckley said he should transfer money to Abreu Logistics’ bank account.
Bamboozled later learned that this company name was ad / b / a (business as) for Fastway in Pompano Beach, Florida.
By June Buckley had moved to Long Island and ready to arrange delivery.
“I called 50 or more times from June 19-23,” he said. “Sometimes a woman who doesn’t speak English would pick me up. She either disconnects me or puts me on the voicemail I got too many times.”
At one point another woman promised to call the next day to plan the move, Buckley said, but she never called.
He also sent numerous emails, as shown by the paper trail, for which he received several replies but did not give details. Buckley asked for callbacks but never received one.
Buckley next contacted the Kearny and Secaucus police. Everyone sent a patrol car to company addresses, but there was no Fastway Moving to be found, Buckley said.
The Secaucus officer said the building was empty, Buckley said, and the brothers filed a police report.
Buckley also complained to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). He learned that Fastway has an “F” rating with 15 complaints. The company has been cited by BBB for unauthorized use of the BBB Accredited Business Seal and for using an incorrect “A +” rating on its website.
Buckley next filed a complaint with Consumer Affairs. An investigator said he would conduct an on-site investigation and return to Buckley.
Buckley kept calling and emailing the company, but got no satisfaction.
“I think my things are gone,” said Buckley.
He asked Bamboozled for help.
While we asked Consumer Affairs for an update on the case, we did a little digging.
Public records indicate that Fastway was subject to a tax lien of $ 19,310, which was only filed in March. There is also a $ 8,159 ruling against the company in 2016.
The company’s statutes and authority to do business in New Jersey were revoked by the state earlier this year because records show Fastway had not filed an annual report for two consecutive years.
Because Fastway makes interstate movements, it is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
FMSCA fined Fastway $ 50,060 civil in November 2016 for “Multiple Household Goods (HHG) violations under Part 375, two security violations, and unauthorized transportation,” a spokesman said.
There were a total of 15 violations, according to public records.
The agency has placed an “out-of-service contract” which means the company is unable to operate.
This wasn’t good news for the Buckleys.
While Buckley was filing a complaint with FMCSA, we tried to contact the company. Nobody returned our messages or emails.
Meanwhile, the consumer affairs investigator was busy. It was his first visit to the warehouse that had been vacated long ago, Buckley said he was told.
The investigator then had a series of emails with the company on June 30th.
“You are hereby instructed to contact me as soon as possible regarding Patrick Buckley’s HHG that is currently in the care and custody of your company. This is an emergency,” he wrote.
The company replied, saying its office was closed “for financial reasons” and it was trying to find Buckley’s belongings.
The investigator requested a delivery date and contact information for the company owner.
The company said it needed more time to find Buckley’s belongings and the owner, Jean Pierre, was in Brazil.
The July 4th holidays came and went, and on July 5th the company responded with an offer to deliver Buckley’s items on Saturday, July 8th.
“We’re going to use a company to deliver, and you won’t pay anything for that delivery due to what happened,” the company’s email said.
Buckley replied to the company and they set a delivery time between 9 and 11 am on Saturday. But then the company didn’t respond to multiple requests for contact information for the moving companies that would make the delivery.
Buckley was hopeful but not confident that he would finally get his things.
It did not happen.
“I feel bamboozled. Really and completely bamboozled,” said Buckley on Saturday after no moving truck arrived.
He said he was desperate, exhausted, exhausted and sad “from these thieving criminals”.
“Not only did they take my things, they continued this scam. They took my money all year,” Buckley said. “Has my belongings been fenced off? I have no idea.”
Buckley has no choice but to wait and see if FMCSA or Consumer Affairs can do anything further. We will keep you updated on the case.
FMCSA staff urge consumers contemplating a possible international move to visit ProtectYourMove.gov. It provides information on what to look for when hiring an interstate moving company, how to understand moving fraud, search for moving companies in the national database of registered moving companies, file a moving fraud complaint with the National Consumer Complaint Database, and more.
If you’ve been a victim of moving fraud, you can file a complaint with FMCSA through the agency’s National Consumer Complaint Database or by calling 1-888-DOT-SAFT.
Research editor Vinessa Erminio contributed to this report.
Have you been bamboozled? Contact Karin Price Mueller at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @KPMueller. Find Bamboozled on Facebook. Mueller is also the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com.
Stay up to date and subscribe to NJMoneyHelp.com’s weekly e-newsletter.