05
Jul 15

Don’t Be Fooled By Phony Online Reviews

The Internet is a fantastic resource for researching the reputation of companies with which you may wish to do business. Unfortunately, this same ease-of-use can lull the unwary into falling for marketing scams originally perfected by spammers: Namely, fake reviews and dodgy search engine manipulation techniques that seek to drown out legitimate, negative reviews in a sea of glowing but fake endorsements.

The home page of Full Service Van Lines.

The home page of Full Service Van Lines.

Perhaps the most common example of this can be found among companies that offer moving and storage services, an industry that consistently ranks in the top 10 across the United States for consumer fraud complaints.

Trust your family heirlooms and other belongings to a moving company without scratching beneath the surface of that glowing review online and at best you could end up paying way more than the agreed-upon price once the company has all of your possessions loaded onto the truck. In most cases, the consumer horror stories about moves-gone-bad also include tales of massive damage to the customer’s stuff — if indeed the customer’s stuff ever arrives.

Even people who are steeped in the ways of the Interwebs can get bamboozled by slick search engine manipulation tricks. Last month I heard from David Matusiak, a longtime reader and information security professional who hired a Florida-based moving company that got five-star reviews from dozens of sites. Unfortunately for Matusiak, many of those “review” sites appear to have been set up and maintained by the people behind the company he hired.

Based in Morrisville, NC, Matusiak had just landed a job in California that wanted him to start right away. So after a couple of hours of reading reviews online for a reputable moving company, Matusiak settled on Full Service Van Lines based in Coconut Creek, Fla. Now, more than 30 days after his truckload of belongings left his home on the East Coast, Matusiak is still waiting for his stuff to arrive in California.

HUGE RED FLAGS

Matusiak said he read page after page of glowing reviews about Full Service Van Lines. Little did he know, the same email address used to register fullservicevanlines.com was used to register many of those “review” Web sites, which naturally list Full Service at the top of their supposed consumer rankings.

Interestingly, if you conduct a simple Google search on Full Service Van Lines, you’ll notice the top review sites — Google and Yelp — have two types of reviews for this company: Very positive and extremely negative, and not much in between.

In retrospect, Matusiak said, the stark disparity in consumer reviews about the company should have been one of many red flags. Another red flag was that the company gave him an estimate for his moving costs over the phone — and refused to send anyone to his home to more accurately and realistically price the move.

The lack of an in-home inspection by the potential moving company is one of the red flags listed at the Protect Your Move site maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the federal agency which oversees the moving industry in the United States.

According to Matusiak, Full Service Van Lines exhibited just about every other red flag listed by the FMCSA, including a requirement that some ($1,441.65) of the total moving estimate ($4,225.52) be paid up-front. The other red flag? When the movers arrived on Sunday, May 24, 2015 to load up his belongings, they showed up in a rented Penske truck — not a company-owned and marked fleet truck as displayed on the company’s home page.

Yet another red flag: As soon as the movers had all of his furniture and belongings loaded onto the truck, the foreman — a guy who Matusiak said had a thick Russian accent and offered his name only as “Serge” — said Matusiak’s stuff took up 375 more cubic feet than the estimate had stated, and that as a result the company would be charging him an additional $2,437!

“He said it had to be paid right now in cash or money order or they were going to start unpacking the truck,” Matusiak recalled. “Since this was on a Sunday afternoon, coming up with that kind of cash was pretty impossible, and I couldn’t risk taking all of this stuff off the truck and finding another moving company to get out to my new job in time.”

So, Matusiak said he told Serge to charge the overage to the credit card that Full Service Van Lines had used to fund his initial deposit. After a heated conversation with someone from Full Service, Serge told Matusiak he needed to take a picture of Matusiak’s credit card and driver’s license. That was the last time Matusiak saw Serge or any of his worldly possessions.

Matusiak said he arrived in southern California on May 28, thinking the moving van would be a few days behind. When the promised delivery date of June 1 came and went, Matusiak reached out to Full Service Van Lines to inquire about the status of the moving van. The manager at Full Service assured him his stuff was on its way, so Matusiak decided to stay in a hotel for a few days. On June 7, unable to get a straight answer from his contact at Full Service about the van’s location, Matusiak moved into his apartment, minus any furniture, clothes or bed.

Growing increasingly alarmed, the North Carolina native said he was able to convince a police officer in Coconut Creek, Fla. to visit the company’s offices there, but the officer ultimately came back and said it was clear that this was a contract dispute — not a criminal matter — and that Matusiak needed to take his claims to civil court.

“I didn’t get a straight answer out of them for nearly a month until I asked a Coconut Creek police officer to go visit them, and they finally told him that it had been sitting ‘in their warehouse in Virginia’ since it was taken from my home on May 24th,” he told KrebsOnSecurity. “They promised to send photos of my items to prove that they still existed and had not been destroyed, stolen or sold. So far, they have yet to send me these pictures despite several requests.”

The week after that, Matusiak said, the company told him it couldn’t get in touch with the driver, and that they didn’t quite know exactly where the truck was.

“They said they thought the truck was somewhere near Texas, but that was pretty much when they stopped talking to me,” he said. “The whole thing has been a nightmare, and I’m hoping it can come to some resolution. I doubt most of my stuff will be in good condition should it ever be returned. And it would cost me tens of thousands of dollars to replace most of it, plus there are things that can never be replaced. Most of the work I’ve produced in the past 12 years existed on those computers.”

A LONG, SPOTTY HISTORY

While the Internet can help companies hide a pattern of misdeeds or crooked practices, careful research into public documents about an organization’s corporate history and company ownership can often reveal quite a bit about this activity. And as it turns out, Full Service Van Lines is just the latest venture by a company that appears to have a history of ripping people off and disappearing with their stuff (the company has not yet responded to requests for comment).

Update, July 7, 2015, 12:29 p.m., ET: I received a response from a Jason Stokes at Full Service Van Lines, who said Matusiak was one of a handful of customers who were inconvenienced by a unpredictable and sudden increase in demand for moving services at the height of the summer moving season. Stokes said Full Service was in the process of sending a truck to pick up Matusiak’s things from its warehouse in Virginia, although he noted that the truck first would need to be loaded with other customers’ items and passed through either Florida or New York before heading to California. “This isn’t something that’s normal for us,” Stokes said of the delays. “We’re going to go above and beyond monetarily to make this right with our customers.”

Original story:

Search on “Full Service Van Lines” at the corporation search page of the Florida Department of State’s Web site turns up zero results. But a search for that company using the “fictitious names” lookup at the same site reveals that this company is registered to a firm in Pompano Beach, Fla. called Moving and Storage Accounting.

A search on Moving and Storage Accounting shows that the company is run by a Grace Metzger and a Maxx Socher. A simple Google search on this last individual leads to several interesting results, including a scathing Ripoff Report listing, as well as several blogs documenting consumer experiences very similar to the nightmare that Matusiak has endured.

Among the search results for Socher is an NBC Miami story from February 2014 that recounts the heartbreaking story of a Florida couple who trusted Ryder Moving and Storage — a moving company owned by Maxx Socher’s brother Joshua Socher and Josh’s wife Jodi under the slightly modified company name Storage & Moving Services Inc. in Pompano Beach, Fla — and ran into the same fate as Matusiak. That story notes that the Better Business Bureau got so many complaints that it awarded Ryder an “F” rating.

In addition, the FMCSA fined the company $50,000 for false and deceptive billing, among other violations. And as noted triumphantly by Movingscambusters blog — a site set up by another victim of Ryder who sought to expose the company’s practices — the Florida Attorney General is now suing the Sochers after receiving hundreds of consumer complaints about the company.

Public records searches also can yield revealing results. For example, searching the FMCSA’s database on “Full Service Van Lines,” produces two results, both for companies in Coconut Beach, Fla. The first Department of Transportation (DOT) license number listed is no longer active, apparently because the operator of that license incurred a high number of consumer complaints and safety inspection violations.

The second DOT license listed — issued to a company by the same name at a different suite number — is active but also includes a number of consumer complaints about final charges and lost or damaged shipments. Oddly enough given this company’s history, the active license for Full Service Van Lines (which is a DBA of “Dr. Schlepper Inc.”), has yet to receive an inspection from the FMCSA.

Finally, while the Better Business Bureau is hardly the arbiter of which companies are legitimate and which are potentially crooked, the BBB’s consumer complaint listing on Full Service Van Lines fairly well tracks Matusiak’s awful experience.

Matusiak says he’s in the process of documenting his case and sending the supporting evidence to regulators and law enforcement in Florida and North Carolina.

“I’m trying to piece this all together and contact relevant authorities,” he said. “It is complicated by the nature of being in multiple states. Each office I contact merely asks me to get in touch with another state. It looks like I’m at the will of this company and can only wait. Without broader attention I doubt they will do much and they may close this company before I can take any legal action.”

Matusiak told me that in hindsight, he definitely should have spent more time investigating the history of Full Service Van Lines and its owners. But he said he doubts most consumers would do that before-the-fact.

“I certainly didn’t think that all of the review sites would be run by them,” he said. “But also, I don’t think the average consumer could or should have to do all this research on federal and state filings just to find out if a company is legitimate.”

Whether consumers should have to do this or not is debatable, but it seems fairly clear that there is simply far too much money to be made in moving scams and far too few consequences for people engaged in this type of fraud.

For example, several states have begun cracking down on “reputation management” and “search engine optimization” (SEO) companies that engage in writing or purchasing fake reviews, but the fines being enforced for violations are likely a fraction of the revenues that companies gain by engaging in this deceptive practice. It’s worth noting that Full Service Van Lines’ home page says the site was created by a company called Affordable SEO Miami, a reputation management firm that lists as its address the same location as Full Service Van Line’s license with the Department of Transportation.

I hope it’s clear that consumers investing in high-dollar services would be wise to spend some time using the resources available to look up public records on companies before doing business with them. True, it is easy even for computer-savvy people to get snookered by fake reviews and search engine manipulation tricks, but public records can be powerful tools in the hands of the wary consumer. Caveat emptor!

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104 comments

  1. This is why I don’t trust google and yelp…everyone has free access. I put more faith in Angie’s list because you must pay a membership fee for each review.

    • Here’s a specific reason I am highly suspicious of the inner workings of Yelp. Before she passed away, my mother was the customer of a wheelchair and medical supply company in Los Angeles. This company is the absolute best at what they do. So I wrote a 5-star review after she received a motorized wheelchair from them. I could have easily provided receipts that proved everything I said was 100% true. But not even 60 seconds after I posted my 5-star review of this company, the Yelp algorithm flagged it as an illegitimate review. I later tried again with a review that said the same basic thing, but was worded entirely differently, and it happened again. This has never happened with any other Yelp review of mine. So as a result, I am highly suspicious of the entire Yelp machine.

      • Delilah–I had the exact same experience when I wrote an exceedingly glowing review of a produce market in Fountain Valley, some distance from my home in Long Beach.

        The market specialized in produce from small farmers in Orange County, and the produce was magnificent, and the prices were lower than many of the major chains in this region.

        I regularly drove there once or twice weekly to buy their wonderful things, and I was always dismayed that the place wasn’t more heavily trafficked.

        Among other reasons, I hoped my review would generate some greater interest in the place, but after two or three days Yelp removed it from the site. To my utter regret, the place, which apparently had a 5-year lease and a 5-year option, closed 2-3 years ago when the option expired.

        I had no pecuniary interest in the place, and no relation of the owners, but only an interest in buying exquisite produce and trying to share a healthy lifestyle with others who might want the same lifestyle.

        I gathered from Yelp’s act of removing my review that maybe I was attempting to intrude on a pay-for-play situation without having actually left anything else of value at the door. Ralph L. Seifer, Long Beach, California.

      • I’ve been on Yelp for awhile, and I own a business that relies heavily on Yelp reviews so I’m quite sensitive to how things work there. We have not yet bought any advertising on Yelp, so our experience is purely organic.

        The biggest factor that seems to drive which Yelp reviews are shown vs. hidden is overall participation. If you write five reviews or fewer, or only one or two per year, you are very likely going to get filtered. People seem to join Yelp to write one really good or one really bad review, get hidden, and then jump into conspiracy rants. I’ve written dozens of reviews from glowing to glowering, and none are hidden. I get frustrated when people create Yelp accounts to write nice reviews of my business, and then stop and their reviews get hidden. All we can do is encourage them to contribute to Yelp more often.

        Anyway, if you read the filtered reviews you’ll note that virtually every one is from a user with five or fewer reviews written. This is a legitimate – if primitive – method of filtering out fakes (lots of ways around it, but it probably solves 95% of the problem).

        • The best way to disprove all the yelp conspiracy theories is to simply look at how horribly rated the scum sucking SEO companies are rated. If you could pay to manipulate Yelp companies like YEXT would not have 1 star.

          http://www.yelp.com/biz/yext-new-york

          All the reports you hear about Yelp are either from people who rarely use it or businesses who try to manipulate it and can’t therefore it must be stacked against them somehow.

          Yelp is very very transparent you can still see all the hidden reviews.

        • In most cases, what you’re saying is absolutely correct about filtered reviews on Yelp and reviewers with a limited amount of reviews posted. But in my case, I’ve had an open Yelp account almost since the beginning of the website and I already had a track record of several years worth of posted reviews when this one about the medical supply company was yanked immediately after I wrote it, not once but twice.

          It’s funny because I wrote a scathing Yelp review about a property management company that stayed up for years. A lawyer friend eventually advised me to remove that review because even though it was 100% accurate, I did call them a slum landlord. (So did the 100+ others who had posted almost identical comments several years before I did.) Not only did I call them a slum landlord, but I said next time I’d rent an apartment in hell before I’d ever again in my life give these people a dime of my money, because “at least the devil has ethics, morals and standards of common decency. Blank company has absolutely none.” That review (long ago removed by me) stands as one of my truly shining moments of personal satisfaction.

    • Angieslist changes rank for companies that pay.

      They don’t hide this fact and have flat out told it to me that my A rated business would not show up in the first page of search results unless I paid them.

      They are a horrible company that doesn’t even make an attempt to pretend they are not horrible. They will gladly strong arm you and send you actual screen shots showing that you are not showing up in search results no mater how well reviewed you are unless you pay.

      It was shocking to me how up front and sleazy they are about it.

      • FKA Curmudgeon

        Agreed. I’ve joined Angie’s list twice thinking that the service would be useful, especially when moving (once within a city, once across the country). But my experience with them was that they were basically useless.

        • I’m pretty suspicious of the mechanics of Angie’s list tbh. I hired a local appliance mover who was barely competent. I never reviewed them, but the owner spent his entire time ranting about how “stupid” yelp and craigslist people are and how he was just going to stick to Angie’s list. That told me really all I needed to know about AL.

    • These days you can’t even trust the company. I showed up and started loading my stuff into a truck and they told me to get out!

  2. Donald J Trump, Millionare I own a mansion and a yacht.

    Real good article

    • Wow.. only a millionaire? You lost a little wealth. I guess this post shows how anonymous it can be on the web.

  3. A year ago I was going to buy a moving services package from either Amazon Local or Groupon, but before I completed the purchase online, my friend asked her husband about it. He shook his head and told her: “Tell her that price is way too low. There’s no way a legitimate moving company could afford to send out two men and a truck with a promise of four hours of service for that low of a price.” The quoted cost for this job was $179.00.

    I also wasn’t impressed with the company’s Yelp reviews because they all sounded fake. There’s a way real people talk and then there’s a way that shills talk. Shills will often swear that something changed their lives for the better, or they “couldn’t live without it!” and the product being reviewed is a .99 cent bag of ballpoint pens.

    I ended up renting my own mid-sized uHaul truck and paying friends to help us move. The final cost, and this includes the cost of feeding everyone, was just about equal to what I would have paid the professional moving company. But as my friend’s husband pointed out, by renting our own truck and paying friends to help us move, we also kept control of the entire moving experience from start to finish.

    • Delihlah, That’s nice when it works, but some people don’t have that resource to turn to. Worse, you impose on them and yourself a great deal of potential liability in the occasion of injuries and damage to property, your’s or someone else’s, en-route accidents in traffic or equipment breakdowns with no protection of transportation of your stuff if it happens, possibly crimes against the transporters or other issues. All that stuff happens. Liability of all sorts is one of the extremely expensive problems that licensed and bonded companies and insurance provide for. So I’m responding specifically in case anyone should blithely think your solution is really that safe or better. You are lucky.

      Thanks Brian for a tremendous story and that DOT resource!! These people and scams are so subtle, we (well, ME) go right back to vulnerable/gullible any time I haven’t had enough sleep or coffee. Human nature is to be trusting when we are not positively on guard. THANKS AND CARRY ON!

  4. Mike Schumann

    As a rule, I mainly read negative reviews. These are usually very insightful. Sometimes you can tell that the negative reviewer is an unreasonable jerk, and the net affect of the review (at least to me) is a positive.

    Trip Advisor is another great example. Looking at positive reviewers and what else they reviewed can be very illuminating. I always take everything with a big grain of salt.

    • I once read a negative review of a set of cabins in the woods because there was no TV. Well, that was a huge plus for me, because it meant no loud TV sound through the wall from the neighbours! 😉

  5. And don’t store your life’s work on computers you hand over to someone else! Cloud it, baby!

    • Trolling!

    • Ain’t “clouding your life’s work” exactly that? Storing your data”on computers you [virtually] hand over to someone else”.

    • Better yet, take your computers with you, not the moving company.

    • Clouding has it’s own substantial risks, if you read some of Brian’s prior articles and the comments they include. I’d invite Brian to keep your comment on as evidence that trolls can show up anywhere and that they do serve a purpose to make us all that much more aware.

  6. I’m amazed that a talented IT professional made such unbelievable mistakes as failing to get multiple quotes or checking with at least the BBB (one phone call or online BBB search takes just a few minutes). Worse yet, he placed key equipment and/or files on a moving van? Ouch!

    Caveat emptor, yes, but it’s also true that you really do get what you pay for.

    FWIW, I did an interstate move a few years ago. It’s never painless, but it didn’t take long to get multiple quotes, most of which were from movers affiliated with national companies. Their prices weren’t that much higher than local “independents,” and there were no lingering issues.

    One other caveat: I moved my own tech gear and files. It meant an extra trip, but I know the equipment was packed and treated well and transported in a temperature-controlled vehicle (my SUV). No amount of insurance could have covered the true value or even replaced large parts of it.

    It’s too easy for us to forget that not all the online crooks are hackers — many ply their evil simply by manipulating Google or Yelp or even paid sites like Angie’s List. It’s a shame that law enforcement is stretched so thinly that it can’t go after the many Serges and Maxxs out there.

    Thanks, Brian, for reminding us that, all too often, life online is still the wild west…

    • Our move was an in-town move of 3 miles, and my husband said he wanted to move all of our tech gear over in the two weeks before we moved into our new apartment. We brought things like our laptops and desktop computers concealed in rolling suitcases over a few at a time, so we didn’t attract any extra attention. My husband’s logic was that in the past, things have always gone missing on the day of our move, including once, a microwave oven. It wasn’t particularly valuable, but somewhere in between the old apartment and the new one, the microwave disappeared.
      So definitely it’s worth the extra effort to keep your laptops and similar devices under your control, rather than handing them off to a stranger during a move.

      • “We brought things like our laptops and desktop computers concealed in rolling suitcases over a few at a time, so we didn’t attract any extra attention. My husband’s logic was that in the past, things have always gone missing on the day of our move,”

        I like this idea very much, will use it on our next move, however long it is. Great idea.

  7. “I put more faith in Angie’s list”

    Don’t trust Angie’s List. They allow companies with negative reviews to pay to have said negative reviews removed and replaced with positive ones.

    http://advanceindiana.blogspot.com/2015/02/angis-list-posts-fourth-quarter-profit.html

  8. Elizabeth White

    NEVER leave anything on the computer. Save everything in two places, on a flash drive or an external hard drive, and in the cloud, Dropbox, Amazon, Google, someplace in the ether.

    Move with your computer and anything else that is irreplaceable in the car with you, even if it means hiring a larger vehicle.

    If you move from coast to coast, which I admit I have never done, find someone reputable on the coast you are moving to and ask them what company they work with, or what company they can recommend. Use the Yellow Pages, not the Internet.

  9. This kinda stuff is what makes Consumer Reports so worthless.

    If you want to let everyone else do your thinking for you, you shouldn’t be surprised when bad things happen.

    I completely understand that moving is a serious pain that no one really enjoys. But, ya gotta do what ya gotta do. No one on Earth is going to respect your things like you will (this is normal and it is what should be expected).

    • What does this have to do with Consumer Reports?

      • What does this have to do with Angies List?

        It’s the same thing. Following what someone else tells you to do…what someone else says is best for you…what someone that has no skin in the game thinks is right for your particular situation…people blindly following someone else’s lead without a care in the world instead of taking some measure of interest in their own activities enough to formulate their own thoughts on things.

        “I don’t need to know or understand….I’m paying them, consulting them, metting them….so they can tell me what I like.”

  10. Margaret Casey

    After receiving outrageously high quotes for a short 50-mile in-state move, I discovered that I could rent my own truck and hire movers on either end to first load and then unload our belongings. I would recommend this to anyone moving. You keep possession of your stuff at all times, you supervise the loading and unloading, and the cost is a fraction of what a full-service company (legitimate or illegitimate) charges.

    • We needed to move 1/2 of our belongings and leave the other half for “staging,” then move the remaining items at time of sale I priced movers and container services and found them to be extremely expensive in my situation–two moves.

      The I did as you did. I rented U-Haul trucks, hired “my people” through them to load, and again hired “my people” to unload in Florida. Was easy and I had full control of our belongings the whole time.

  11. It amuses me that so many of you are recommending he put his files on ‘the cloud’ (dropbox etc)…on a security blog website.

    • Awww…Brian’s not responsible for what readers put…and it shows there are people who read really CAN benefit from learning more. After all, knowing tech stuff makes you smart about everything, business, etc…which might make YOU the guy a scammer might actually want to deal with. If he was writing for people who don’t need to know, his day job would be parking cars.

  12. Robert Scroggins

    I guess it is best to do businesses with the top names in a field. They may cost more, but they have a legitimate business with legitimate locations, and they have an interest in keeping a good reputation with their industry, the Better Business Bureau, and their customers.

    Regards,

    • That is generally true. I have found that the individual driver and affiliate have a lot to do with how well things go and how much damage may be done to your belongings.
      One on 2,000+ mile move, I used a local affiliate of a national firm that had a good BBB rating and everything went well with everything delivered on time and nothing was damaged. A year later brought another not 2,000+ mile move and I again used the local affiliate of the same national firm, after again checking the BBB rating. In both cases, I paid to have the moving company pack up everything. This time, everything was delivered a day later than estimated, the driver was too busy talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone to supervise the unloading, and things were damaged, including a PC.
      Fortunately, I had made a complete backup of the PC, which traveled with me, rather than the movers. So after replacing the motherboard on the PC and restoring the backup, I was good to go.

      • Edited my above comment to fix typo:

        That is generally true. I have found that the individual driver and affiliate have a lot to do with how well things go and how much damage may be done to your belongings.
        One on 2,000+ mile move, I used a local affiliate of a national firm that had a good BBB rating and everything went well with everything delivered on time and nothing was damaged. A year later brought another 2,000+ mile move and I again used the local affiliate of the same national firm, after again checking the BBB rating. In both cases, I paid to have the moving company pack up everything. This time, everything was delivered a day later than estimated, the driver was too busy talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone to supervise the unloading, and things were damaged, including a PC.
        Fortunately, I had made a complete backup of the PC, which traveled with me, rather than the movers. So after replacing the motherboard on the PC and restoring the backup, I was good to go.

  13. A bit strange bit if I click on your Google link, a RipOff report shows up on third place…

  14. How are Grace Metzger and a Maxx Socherstill alive?

  15. Things I found without trying:

    “Interesting that Full Service Van Lines was formerly Moving and Storage Accounting Service Inc. (listed agents are Grace Metzger and Maxx Socher) are merging with Remax Van Lines which is listed as a fictitious name for Moving and Storage Accounting Inc. (listed agents are Grace Metzger and Maxx Socher).”

    http://movingscambusters.blogspot.com/2014/01/things-i-found-without-trying.html

  16. Years ago I made a local move with a local moving company that I’d had success with in the past. Fortunately, I paid an extra $100 for $10,000 insurance coverage. When my goods arrived, I couldn’t believe all the items that were missing. After a year of harassing the insurance company, I finally received the $10,000 check to replace my missing goods. Moral: even companies that were once reliable can go downhill. Always, always, always pay up for extra insurance on a move. It’s a pittance compared to the value of your goods.

  17. Check the Broward county official records search for Socher. Nothing seems to stop them.

  18. No reputable interstate moving company would ever bid on a job without seeing the contents of the residence.
    Always get what is called a guaranteed not to exceed contract. This means that if the actual weight exceeds the contract weight, the moving company is responsible for the excess cost.
    There is no “best” moving company but as a rule always start with the major carriers. They don’t ask for money up front, a major red flag.

  19. In California, ALL mover ads must display a valid CPUC CAL-T license number. You can verify movers and moving companies with the PUC at 1-800-877-8867

  20. If Maxx’s driver get into traffic court as much as he does, it could be bad:
    https://www.clerk-17th-flcourts.org/Clerkwebsite/BCCOC2/OdysseyPA/case_search_results.aspx?hidSearchType=party_case&txtLastName=socher&txtFirstName=maxx&txtMiddleInitial=&txtBusinessEntity=&chkAdvSearch=0&cboCourtType=&txtDateFiledOnOrAfter=&txtDateFiledOnOrBefore=&sbmPublicParty=Submit&user_type=&DisplayCitation=yes&DisplayType=Criminal&StatusType=&AllStatusTypes=1&SearchType=&CaseType=

    oh, wait, they do:
    https://www.clerk-17th-flcourts.org/Clerkwebsite/BCCOC2/OdysseyPA/case_search_results.aspx?hidSearchType=party_case&txtLastName=&txtFirstName=&txtMiddleInitial=&txtBusinessEntity=moving+and+storage+accounting&chkAdvSearch=0&cboCourtType=&txtDateFiledOnOrAfter=&txtDateFiledOnOrBefore=&sbmPublicParty=Submit&user_type=&DisplayCitation=yes&DisplayType=Criminal&StatusType=&AllStatusTypes=1&SearchType=&CaseType=

    Maxx is also known as Justin t in Broward county civil dockets:
    https://www.clerk-17th-flcourts.org/Clerkwebsite/BCCOC2/OdysseyPA/case_search_results.aspx?hidSearchType=party_case&txtLastName=socher&txtFirstName=maxx&txtMiddleInitial=&txtBusinessEntity=&chkAdvSearch=0&cboCourtType=&txtDateFiledOnOrAfter=&txtDateFiledOnOrBefore=&sbmPublicParty=Submit&user_type=&DisplayCitation=no&DisplayType=Civil&StatusType=&AllStatusTypes=&SearchType=&CaseType=

    Grace Metzger is no stranger to the court system having been a defendant:
    https://www.clerk-17th-flcourts.org/Clerkwebsite/BCCOC2/OdysseyPA/case_search_results.aspx?hidSearchType=party_case&txtLastName=metzger&txtFirstName=grace&txtMiddleInitial=&txtBusinessEntity=&chkAdvSearch=0&cboCourtType=&txtDateFiledOnOrAfter=&txtDateFiledOnOrBefore=&sbmPublicParty=Submit&user_type=&DisplayCitation=no&DisplayType=Civil&StatusType=&AllStatusTypes=&SearchType=&CaseType=

    Felony grand theft and fraudulent use of credit card in 2006. :
    https://www.clerk-17th-flcourts.org/Clerkwebsite/BCCOC2/OdysseyPA/CaseSummary.aspx?CaseID=Mjg2NDg4NQ%3d%3d-x9J0vfxwNj8%3d&hidSearchType=party_case&DisplayCitation=yes&CaseNumber=06001070CF10A&SearchType=

  21. Don’t trust reviews on any site. DIY as much as possible. When moving ( ugh ), sell/donate as much as you possibly can rent a van or small truck and take the core/must have items with you. You can always get replacement stuff in your new location, and you’ll probably be money ahead vs paying a mover. YMMV.

  22. Ima Nottellin

    I’ve read about 1/2 of the posts. And like reviews of companies, there are some good and bad. We have to remember the state of mind of the person looking. Just receiving the job promotion and probably excited as well as scared about the move… the scumbags who prey on people do… and when you bring various emotions in, clarity isn’t always there to follow.
    Another option on a long move like this – I had my brother help me move about 5 states away. Price was uHaul, hotel, and a one way plane ticket. Wasn’t that expensive and we got to spend time together.

  23. Does moving have some kind of Federal exemption to the typical protections under the law for interstate fraud? How is this not an FBI case?! I thought ANY fraud over $5000 dollars over state lines was eligible for such a complaint!

  24. Amazon is among the worst for fake online customer reviews, despite the lip service they give about policing them. All “verified purchase” means is that the person who wrote the review bought one, that’s all it means.

    Verified purchase is standard offer from most fake Amazon reviewers.

    Yelp is a cesspit, TripAdvisor too.

  25. I went through the same issue 10 years ago, when moving to NoVa. The van showed up 15 days late, most of my furniture was damaged, things were missing, and they demanded more money. We paid them more then the agreement, and had to call the police on him when two of the people were on drugs and began destroying my stuff.

    Submitted a report to U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT), but they ignored the request and did not provide any response they received the report. This could be the reason that we now see people hacking cars, hacking planes, hacking…..

    Thanks for the report!

  26. Recently moved cross country (US) and had 2 in-home estimates done by big name moving companies. Both of the gentleman who came in gave roughly the same estimate of weight (who charges by cubic foot?) as well as cost of the move, the main difference was their availability and windows for pickup/delivery. However, both of them STRESSED how important the Protect Your Move site is. When in doubt, check that and if you’re not getting an in-home estimate the people “moving” your items truly do not care because that’s the only logical way they could run their business.

  27. I went through a 900 mile move a year ago. I did research on the Internet. I made a decision to pack and load my own stuff and then go with a common carrier freight line. I also towed a 7 X 14 trailer of stuff I wanted access to immediately as well as things I did not want broken or come up missing. There are several trucking companies that offer this service. They show up and drop their trailer, you load it and put a bulkhead in place and padlock it with your lock. They return and pickup the loaded trailer and then deliver or store it until you call. If I remember right, if you call within 30 days there is no extra charge for storage. I needed the 30 days because I was looking for a house to buy. They will drop a trailer with a ramp on a Friday and Pick it up on a Monday. (They don’t work over the weekend.) I chose Memorial day weekend and because of the holiday, they dropped the trailer on a Wednesday, (NO work on holidays) I got 2 extra days to load. I did the same thing over the July 4th weekend and also got 5 days. They help you estimate how much space you need and it is reasonably accurate but it is on you to maximize space with efficient packing. I got a 28 foot trailer and used 26′. Charges are based on how many feet of trailer space you use. These people were a pleasure to do business with. They gave me precise instructions, offered insurance, (which I bought) and 1-800 access to the dispatch terminal on each end. To a person, everyone I dealt with was great. If it was not so much work loading and unloading I would do it again. That company was ABF freight line. I highly recommend them if you want to tackle a move that way. They were also cheaper than anyone else and no extra charges for anything. http://www.upack.com/abf/abf-freight

    • I share your good opinion of upack/abf. Family member moved 2k miles interstate using them a couple of months ago, it was a well handled move and the cost was way less than using a regular moving co.

    • Outstanding idea, Chip!!!

  28. It would have been much cheaper to rent a truck and hire individuals that you could do background checks on. The last 2 times we moved we hired individuals to pack and load our belongings, transport, and then unload and they were absolutely fantastic! Never lost an item, never broke an item. We also never let the stuff leave our site though.

    We were there when they loaded the truck and we followed the truck the many miles to the destination, but we didn’t have to do any heavy lifting or labor ourselves.

    Wish we had thought of that many years earlier during our military days. Would have been much less stress!

    I think anyone willing to just hand over everything they own to someone or some company without any precaution is crazy…

  29. goyscript wpa

    I never trust in low rating web pages enterprises.

  30. So far no one has mentioned including a GPS tracker (or a few of them ) in your stuff before the move

    • The problem isn’t really with the actual physical theft of your belongings. The problem comes (especially with a move of several hundred miles and/or multiple days of travel) when the mover pulls the truck up in front of your new house and then demands a ransom before they’ll take the padlock off the back of the truck and unload your belongings. Since they disguise this scam with fake words like “storage fees” or some extra bs, the police won’t usually help you get your stuff out of that moving truck, because it’s considered to be a matter for civil court, a contractual dispute between two people, and not a criminal offense. If you don’t get your stuff off the truck that day, then these scammers take your belongings to some private storage facility and now you’re also being screwed out of “daily storage fees.” I saw a news story on either Dateline or 20/20 about this a few years ago.