Moving is one of those things that nobody enjoys or wants to do, and this year, things became even more complicated because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Back in June, when Marion Schmekel hired a moving company to move her belongings from Aurora to a suburb of Kansas City, the $1,700 estimate she received had to be given over the phone. When the movers arrived, however, that quickly changed.
“They stated that my quote was well under the items that I had for the move, so there were going to be a lot of charges added,” she said. “The price just kept adding and adding and adding up to about $2,000 more than my original quote.”
Her belongings were eventually loaded on what she says was a truck with no moving company logo, by three men who she says were not wearing any moving company logos on their shirts.
She says she was leery, but felt she had no choice but to continue forward with the move.
“I was kind of stuck, I had already put a down payment down,” she said. “So my fear of losing that few hundred dollars came into mind.”
Marion made her way to Kansas. Her belongings were supposed to arrive 10 days later, but she says they came two weeks beyond that date, and well after dinner time.
Then, before the lone driver would unload anything, he demanded cash.
“At 9:30 pm, I'm running around town going to the ATM, while the mover just waits with my stuff outside of my residence,” she recalled.
Her entire experience appears to fit the same pattern described in a moving scam report released by the Better Business Bureau this summer.
“What we saw in the study is that there's so many fake telemarketing companies out there that basically just sell the move to somebody else. And then when you move, another company shows up and it still has the potential to scam you or to ruin your furniture” warns BBB President Steve Bernas.
But Marion’s story doesn’t end there. The whole time, she thought she was dealing with New City Moving, a Chicago-based company whose name and reputation she had heard of. In reality, she was three letters off.
Her possessions were actually in the hands of New Jersey based New City Moves, which also operates under the name New City Movers.
“When I began to research a little more, (I) found that the company that I actually thought I was using is not the company that has my stuff at some warehouse,” she said.
“Consumers don't realize that movers and other companies have similar names, all across the country. And you really have to do your due diligence and looking at the license numbers and things of that nature” says Bernas.
Editor’s Note: NBC 5 Responds has not confirmed if New City Moves is a telemarketing moving company.
The BBB gives New City Moves an “F” rating based on a lack of a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration license. The BBB also cites that the business address listed on the website belongs to an entity that is not associated with New City Moves.
The company is also the target of a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by the company Marion thought she hired, New City Moving, located on 2929 North Campbell Avenue in Chicago.
The suit claims that countless hours have been spent countering negative reviews by consumers who confused New City Moving with their similarly-named nemesis.
“As a direct and proximate result of New City Movers’ infringing activities and unauthorized use of the New City Moving Mark, New City Moving has suffered irreparable damage to its business, reputation and goodwill,” writes attorney Mason Cole in the lawsuit.
“What bothered me the most is this well-known company in the area, and now people are wondering like are they really that good of a company” warns Marion.
NBC 5 Responds reached out to New City Movers for comment and did not receive a response, but a check of their website shows it’s been suspended.