Grand Strand woman waiting for broker to deliver her belongings months after move from California

Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 8:43 PM EDT
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SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - It’s been months since a new Surfside Beach resident sold her house and most of her things before heading for South Carolina.

The remaining belongings, she had movers take, and that’s the last she’s seen of them.

Clare Rosensteel and Michelle Lequia are still waiting for a couple dozen boxes of photos, family-made artwork and other mementos to arrive from California.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), “moving brokers are sales teams that book your move and sell it to an actual moving company.”

“They hire a carrier out of wherever it’s going through at the time, and then if they have room on their truck, then they load your stuff up and deliver it to your home,” Lequia explained.

The shipment has made its way from one coast to the next, they’ve been told.

“They were going to Sacramento first, then from there, a bigger truck to be moved here. And again that was March 16th,” Rosensteel said.

“It was supposedly in Texas - broke down. Then supposedly Hackensack, New Jersey now,” Lequia explained.

And there it has remained, according to what the broker, a Miami-based company called U.S. Standard Moving and Storage, has relayed to them. Lequia said the broker told them it remains with a mover by the name of Deluxe Moving, and they’re waiting for a truck that they can load up to bring south.

But as Lequia said, the personal belongings were sent back in March. They were supposed to arrive in 10 to 14 days. The broker hasn’t given many answers, telling Lequia they’re having issues with getting into contact with the moving company itself. Lequia hasn’t had luck either.

Rosensteel is troubled by the thought that she might not see her things ever again.

“It’s everything that I have that’s precious to me. So it’s really been very difficult to kind of start over and move on, just not knowing,” Rosensteel said. “If someone could just give us some information, and reassure us that it’s still here, and it’s eventually going to get here. That would just give me such peace of mind.”

WMBF Investigates brought these concerns to the Better Business Bureau. Renee Wikstrom, with the Better Business Bureau of Coastal Carolina, said U.S. Standard Moving and Storage has an ‘F’ rating and isn’t accredited by the organization.

Ratings don’t fair better for Deluxe Moving, either. The BBB said the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revoked the mover’s license last year. According to records on the FMCSA’s website, Deluxe Moving is still under an Out-of-Service order from the federal government.

The BBB advises doing an extensive search when you’re trying to find an honest mover.

Before hiring a broker or moving company, check with BBB and the FMCSA to see a company’s accreditations. FMCSA also logs complaints, just like the BBB.

“You don’t stay in business that long if you’re not doing something right,” Wikstrom said.

Get an estimate based on weight, not cubic feet, to prevent an operator from being able to manipulate measurements and charging you more.

Make sure to pay with a credit card. If a mover will only accept cash, Wikstrom said it’s likely a scam.

If you do fall victim to shady business practices while moving, Wikstrom said filing as many complaints as you can is your best bet.

“A lot of noise will hopefully bring some closure for them,” Wikstrom said.

You can file a complaint with both the BBB and FMCSA. Wikstrom advised filing a complaint with the Attorney General of each state involved in your move. FMCSA also provides another list of other state regulators across the country.

MoveRescue is also a reputable resource that can provide help to victims of bad moving practices.

WMBF Investigates reached out by phone and email to both companies in this story multiple times on behalf of Rosensteel and Lequia. A phone number associated with Deluxe Moving called us back and asked about the job number. The connection was very poor, and the person on the other line said they would call us back. Despite us trying to contact Deluxe Moving on that line several more times, we never heard from them again.

WMBF Investigates will continue to search for more remedies in order to bring their items home.

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