CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A Spartanburg, South Carolina woman says a Charlotte-based moving company scammed her out of thousands of dollars, using her household goods as leverage to make her pay.
Brittany Guthrie called WBTV out of frustration after learning she would have to pay more than $6,000 to a company that originally said the job would cost just $1,895.
Guthrie and her husband recently moved from Delaware to South Carolina. She hired Public Moving Services based in Charlotte for the move.
"They pretty much called me every day – 'Oh go with us, we'll get you the lowest rate, we promise. We come in, we pack everything, we wrap everything, everything safe with us. We guarantee a delivery date,'" Guthrie recalled.
After days of repeated phone calls promising a rate far lower than those given by other companies, Guthrie said she decided to hire Public Moving Services.
She said trouble started as soon as the movers loaded her belongings onto the truck.
"When they got everything loaded on the truck, at first we paid $3,500," she said. "And today, as they're unloading their truck, we had paid $6,000."
Documents from the company, Guthrie provided to WBTV, show her final total for the move was $6,257, more than three times the amount listed in the company's binding estimate.
Guthrie said she had no choice but to pay the money so she could get her stuff back.
After visiting Guthrie's new house the day the movers finally delivered her belongings, a WBTV crew went to the address listed as Public Moving Service's address on the company's website. Instead of finding an office, the crew found a man in a suburban apartment unit.
The man—who did not identify himself—said he did not know anything about Public Moving Services, even as he directed the WBTV crew to call the company's customer service number. He later said his address was just the company's mailing address, but then said he didn't receive mail for the company when pressed by a reporter.
Later, when a WBTV reporter called the company's phone number, a representative hung up in mid-conversation not once but twice.
The company did not respond to multiple emails seeking an explanation for how their quote of $1,895 they gave Brittany Guthrie ballooned to more than $6,000.
For her part, Guthrie said she has learned to do more than just check out the reviews on a company's website.
WBTV could not find any corporate filings for Public Moving Services on the North Carolina Secretary of State's website, even though the company says it's based in Charlotte. Such paperwork would be required for any business operating in North Carolina.
"They should give me my money back," Guthrie said. "They should be shut down and not be able to move people."
The Better Business Bureau offers these red flags to look out for when shopping for moving companies:
- Movers who do not make an on-site inspection of your household goods, but rather give an estimate over the phone or by email. Such estimates often sound — and are — too good to be true.
- Movers who demand cash or a large deposit before the move.
- Movers who do not provide you with a copy of “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move,” a booklet that movers are required to supply to customers planning interstate moves.·
- Business websites that have no address and no information about a mover’s registration or insurance.
- Movers who claim all items are covered by their insurance.
- Telephone calls answered with a generic “movers” or “moving company” rather than a business name.
- Offices or warehouses that are in poor condition or do not exist.
- On moving day, a rental truck arrives rather than a business-owned or marked fleet truck.