Summer is a popular time to move, but the Better Business Bureau warns you need to choose your mover as thoughtfully as you choose your new residence. BBB is getting a steady stream of complaints about a moving service that continues to offer interstate moves despite being ground to a halt by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Classic Moving Services (Classic) which also does business as Matrix Movers, uses a "virtual office" space in Beachwood. The company came to BBB's attention in February, 2015, and complaints soon followed.
Consumers tell BBB the company substantially increases its prices after the initial quote, holds their goods hostage until the increased fees are paid, does not deliver belongings on dates promised, and damages items.
"These are some of the worst complaints we have seen about a moving service at this BBB," said BBB president, Sue McConnell. "The company has an 'F' rating with us at this time." BBB referred this matter to the FMCSA in June of this year.
On July 6, 2015, the FMCSA issued an "Out-of-Service" order against Classic for not having a required safety audit. Classic had 30 days to reapply for the audit, but that time has lapsed.
A search of Classic's DOT# (2558178) at fmcsa.dot.gov results in a "Not Allowed to Operate" warning.
Classic is not allowed to operate at this time, however, their website is still active and the 866-573-8662 line still answers. BBB recently shopped the company by phone and requested a quote for a move from Akron to Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
The call was answered by "Paul" who asked a few questions and suggested we get a local business to do an on-site inventory, then call Classic back for a quote.
A Cleveland consumer used Classic to move to Phoenix. She described her experience to BBB stating, " I paid the deposit upfront and then we agreed on a pick-up date. When the 3rd day rolled around and I still had no call from their dispatcher, I began calling and emailing to see what was going on. They told me that the truck had broken down the day before and there was no way they were picking my items up until Monday. I made them swear to me...that my items would be picked up Monday or I'd be going with another company. They said that was fine and they'd give me a refund at that point if I chose to do so. Monday came and nothing. I began freaking out at noon and the same sales guy called me back to tell me the mover would be coming between 3-5pm that day. When 4pm hit, I called dispatch (who finally answered for the very first time in weeks) and he said he was in Michigan and there was no way he was coming. At that point I told him I'm finding another company and I wanted my refund they promised. Now, they won't give me the refund."
A woman who used Classic to move from New Jersey to Texas claims the company lost many of her items, did damage to her former and new home, and broke an antique stained glass window that she valued at $3600. She also told BBB that Classic nearly doubled the original estimate and would not release her belongings until she paid.
A California woman told BBB her initial $7,000 estimate mushroomed to $14,995 the day before the scheduled move. She was able to negotiate the cost down to $10,000. Then Classic was a "no show."
Some consumers report extreme delays in receiving their belongings, as in this recent complaint: "It's been over 12 days and we still did not receive the stuff and we still don't know where the stuff is. The response is extremely poor and they hang up on us. We are in a desperate stage, living elsewhere with 2 year old since we don't have our stuff to move in. Please help!!!" One consumer waited 52 days for the moving truck to arrive at her new home.
Classic responds to most complaints with a standard form letter that requests documents about the move. It handles its claims through a Florida company, MovingClaims.net. Classic's contract contains language prohibiting customers from contacting "...any state, city, government, insurance, and consumer group such as the BBB, public, media organization, internet website or credit card agency.." until after MovingClaims.net addresses their complaints." To date, almost all complaints are either unanswered or unresolved. Consumers are encouraged to file complaints with BBB (bbb.org/cleveland) and FMCSA (888-368-7238).
When hiring a moving service, BBB advises:
Do your research. Look up moving companies on bbb.org/cleveland. Note the length of time a company has been in business and read reviews from previous customers.
Get at least three estimates. Written, in-home estimates help you make an informed decision. Show the mover everything that needs to be moved (don't forget sheds and garages). Be wary of unusually high or low estimates. If someone says they can give you an estimate over the phone or by email, it's possible they're trying to scam you.
Get all agreements in writing. Read everything carefully and make sure you have it all in writing. Get copies of everything you sign, especially the most important document, the bill of lading, which is the receipt for your goods and the contract for their transportation. Never sign any blank forms.
Know your rights. Interstate movers are required by law to provide you with certain information that explains the moving process, as well as your rights and responsibilities during and after the move. Ask for proof of licenses, insurance, etc.
Protect your possessions. Make sure that your mover provides full-value protection insurance for any lost or damaged possessions. Note that insurance is by the pound, so expensive items such as a flat-panel television may need additional replacement cost coverage in case they are damaged in transit.
Be wary of unusual requests. If a mover asks for a large down payment or full payment in advance, that may be a warning sign. And if a company says it won't return your items to you without more money than you agreed to pay, contact BBB or local law enforcement for help.
Take your valuables with you. Cash, coins, jewelry, photographs and important papers should be taken with you or shipped separately using a shipping service with tracking numbers and insurance.