TAMPA, Fla. — Consumers are rarely more vulnerable than when they hire someone to move everything they own. More than 1,000 Florida-based movers have an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau.
In Chris Wescott’s case, the mover he hired did not have a license to operate in the sunshine state.
The move should have taken a day, but Wescott said it wound up dragging out for a week after he hired a local business to move most of what he owned from one side of Tampa Bay to the other.
Wescott, a local realtor, said an online search led him to 24 Seven Moving Service. According to documents filed with state regulators and in small claims court, Wescott said the owner Wesley Jackson gave him a written quote for $1,323 after a walk-through of his St. Petersburg home.
But that night, when the moving van pulled up to Wescott’s new house in Tampa, Wescott said Jackson changed the price to $1,850. According to Wescott's 911 call to Tampa Police, the mover left with most of his belongings after he refused to pay the additional $500.
Tampa Police responded, but according to the report, they considered the botched move a civil matter. Court documents show Wescott hired an attorney to mediate the return of his belongings.
Bank records and invoices attached to the small claims case indicate that six days after the move, Wescott paid 24 Seven Moving Service $3,216, more than twice the original quote.
In exchange, Wescott said Jackson gave him access to a unit in an Oldsmar storage facility. That's where Wescott said he found his belongings, some of which he claims were damaged.
Florida statutes require registered movers to have insurance or a bond to pay for damages. But we found 24 Seven Moving Service is not registered as a mover in the state, but they advertise moving services on their website.
In an email to ABC Action News, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stated, “The entity is not registered, and it’s unlawful to act as a mover without being registered.” The also agency confirmed it was investigating the business.
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The I-Team caught up with 24 Seven Moving Service owner Wesley Jackson by phone. He would not answer questions about his registration or Wescott’s case.
Wescott told ABC Action News, “The harm he caused to me was unbelievable.” He took the mover to small claims court in Pinellas County in May and won a judgment of over $4,500.
In June, the business filed an appeal with the Second District Court of Appeal. Jackson claims Westcott made modifications to the move resulting in a price change and that there is no proof the mover caused the damage. The appeal was denied after Jackson did not respond to a court order that he hire an attorney to represent him.
Before hiring a mover, do your homework.
You can check to see if the business is registered as a mover with the state and their complaint record here.
If you are moving between states, you need to be sure the company is licensed here.
It’s always smart to check the Better Business Bureau to see what other consumers have to say about any company you are considering doing business with.