TAMPA, Fla. — In December, the I-Team exposed hundreds of complaints and a state investigation into problems movers in Florida. Months later, one of the companies had its license revoked, but consumer complaints continue to pile up.
Retiree Mary Miller feels alone in her ongoing fight against a South Florida moving company. Her estimate with Gold Standard Moving and Storage, and bank records, show she paid the mover a $3,685 deposit to move her and her disabled husband's belongings from Idaho to their new home in St. Pete.
The estimate included a three-day window in November, the 18-20, for the company to pick up all the Millers' possessions.
"The 18th came, no one, the 19th came, no one, the 20th came, no one showed up," Miller said. "I was all by myself. I didn't know what to do. I just cried."
Miller said the company stood her up without even a phone call. She said she called the company for two days and when she finally reached someone, they told her movers wouldn't be coming.
The Millers are still waiting on the $3,685 refund six months later.
The Millers didn't know that federal regulators revoked the company's license last November 3, nearly a month after Mary Miller paid them.
The U.S. Department of Transportation revoked the license the week after I-Team Investigator Jackie Callaway emailed them. She asked about the hundreds of complaints against Gold Standard Moving and Storage filed with their agency, the Florida Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau.
The company's owner Charles Abrams who we connected to three other companies, has yet to return calls and emails. The I-Team found Gold Standard Moving and Storage is just one of 280 Florida-based movers with an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Motivated by our findings, Senator Ed Hooper met with state regulators and the Attorney General's office. He then crafted Senate Bill 1928. It aimed to crack down on rogue movers that move people within Florida and are regulated by the state. But the bill died in committee.
"So far, they are un-bated and I don't think they fear any kickback or repercussions," Hooper said. He plans to take up the problem of rogue movers in the fall session.
In Tampa, Fariba Gharai and her husband Ken Smith want to know why more isn't being done to get bad movers out of business.
The couple paid an $8,500 deposit to Alliance Moving and Storage; another F-rated Florida mover, just before looking up the company's record. They canceled their move-in within 24 hours. Their contract states, "due to any cancellation within 48 hours of placing a reservation, 20% of the deposit will be held."
Over a year later, Gharai and her husband are still fighting for their money. They've filed complaints with federal regulators and the Attorney General's office. They also won a judgment in small claims court.
Attorney General Moody's office confirmed they are actively investigating approximately 100 complaints against Alliance Moving and Storage, and we found 270 cases filed with federal regulators. Still, the company continues to do business in and out of Florida.
Both companies in this story are brokers, which means they hire another company to do the moving. Federal regulators told the I-Team that although the names of these businesses give the impression they will be making the move, consumers are actually dealing with a middleman.
Another piece of advice: Never hire any mover without checking the company's record with state and federal regulators.