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Pinellas County

St. Pete woman said moving company tried to rip her off

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) - Britany Mathews says Direct Movers, the company she hired to pack up her stuff and move her from Pittsburgh to St. Petersburg, tried to rip her off.

“It was guaranteed not to exceed the quoted price, which was $1,469. It was to be paid in three increments, deposit, pickup and drop-off.”

After they loaded her goods, they told her the total price was going to be $6,000 because it weighed more than they originally thought.  

Then there was the contract.

“I was skeptical about missing amount blocks," Mathews said.

But she decided to go ahead with them after they assured her it would be fine.

When the movers showed up in Florida to deliver her things, Mathews went back and forth with the driver, refusing to pay more than what she agreed initially.

“I was this close to being homeless,” she told him.

The driver told her, “In the first place, you told me what it is and I understand what it is.”

He kept assuring her he was trying to work with her. Then he called the owner.

The owner told her he would take the price down from $6,000 to just $2,500 on top of the $900 she had already paid.

Beyond that, he wouldn't budge. Neither would she.

Mathews called St. Petersburg police. The owner wouldn't budge with them either and after two and a half hours of back and forth, they finally agreed Mathews would only pay the balance of what was originally owed: $500 in cash, and she could get her things.

Pinellas Consumer Protection said people need to investigate thoroughly and always look out for red flags. 

“Any red flag where you're going to see a blank contract or missing spaces,” said Doug Templeton.

 And ask lots of questions.

Here are some other tips from www.protectyourmove.gov:

Here are the “red flags” to look out for:

  • The mover doesn’t offer or agree to an on­site inspection of your household goods and gives an estimate over the telephone or online — sight unseen. These estimates often sound too good to be true. They usually are.
  • The moving company demands cash or a large deposit before the move.
  • The mover asks you to sign blank or incomplete documents.
  • The mover does not provide a written estimate (can be binding or non-binding).
  • The mover doesn’t provide you with a copy of the Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move booklet and a copy of FMCSA’s Ready to Move brochure, which movers are required by federal regulations to supply to their customers in the planning stages of interstate moves.
  • The company’s website has no local address and no information about their registration or insurance.
  • The mover claims all goods are covered by their insurance.
  • When you call the mover, the telephone is answered with a generic “movers” or “moving company,” rather than the company’s name.
  • Offices and warehouse are in poor condition or nonexistent.
  • The mover says they will determine the charges after loading.
  • On moving day, a rental truck arrives rather than a company­-owned or marked fleet truck.
  • The mover claims, “You’ve got more stuff than estimated!” Should this occur, be sure the mover provides a revised estimate that you both sign listing the additional items and/or services as well as a price that you both have agreed to and signed BEFORE they begin packing or loading. They should also provide you a copy of this new estimate.

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