Moving Company Jerks
Submitted this review about Five Star Van Lines
Review made Live: 1/26/2010 11:55:00 PM
**Since the following happened to me, I've been contacted by at least 3 other people who have had the same exact thing happen to them in the last couple months. I have every reason to believe that this company operates in this way as a matter of course and that my experience with them is not singular.**
I hired Five Star Van Lines, located in Beverly Hills, to move a bunch of my family’s furniture out to my sister, who just bought a house in Waretown, NJ.
I entered my information into a web site that was supposed to give me a list of local movers for me to call. Instead, I got cold-called by several companies, including Five Star. They gave me an estimate at first of $1000 based on an inventory I gave them over the phone. Then, they sent me a web page and I modified the inventory to be very accurate and the quote increased to $1333.
I insisted from the beginning that my items must be weighed. And, in fact, Carrie told me that they were required by law to weigh them. She told me I could pay by credit card for the whole move, no extra charge. She told me (and they say on their site) that they are members of American Moving and Storage Association XXXturns out they are not. I hired them in part because of this and the protections the AMSA provides for consumers.
On the day of pick up, I signed an Order of Service contract at pick-up and paid them $1000 by check because they refused to take credit card, even though the agreement when we reserved the move was to pay by credit card for the entire move.
They told me that they would come out with an empty truck and a weigh-bill for the truck immediately prior to loading. I asked for it when they arrived and they told me that they would go get it and we would do all the paperwork. After they had my stuff loaded up (there wasn’t very much), the pre-load weigh bill that they promised to give me suddenly didn’t exist.
They tried to talk me into a cubic feet price of $3000 and told me that would be cheaper than if they weighed it. I refused and insisted that they weigh the items. They told me it was just an error because they were in a hurry, but would weigh it in LA. They promised me both the before and after weigh bills. I told them that we would require a weigh on delivery day that we could observe to confirm that they weren’t trying to cheat me, but in any event, they were bound by the contract to charge no more than 110% of the $1333 contract price. I then called the main office to make sure that this would weigh in LA before shipping to New Jersey, but they didn’t call me back.
About a week later, I get a call from the main office with no less than 3 versions of a story about whether they weighed the stuff, where the stuff was at, what the weight was, etc. I asked them to send me the weigh bills and gave them my email address. They told me I would, but I never got them. I told them again that I would require a weigh upon arrival to verify the amount. The total price they demanded had now jumped from $1333 to $3000.
About a week after that, on Friday November 6, 2009, I get a call from the driver, whose name is Haim, who wanted to deliver our stuff. He stated that he was an independent driver and drives a Mayflower truck. He told me that he wanted to deliver it the items the next day (Saturday). I told him that we needed to reweigh and suggested a nearby weigh station. I identified one 30 miles from the delivery address. At first, he flat out refused. Then, he agreed, but only if we paid him a “very substantial fee.” Then he tells me that the company had already faxed me the weigh bills (they had not, and I had not even given them my fax number) and that he was not required to weigh again. Then, he outright refuses and said that if I want to see my stuff again, I will have to pay him $2500 in cash that same day (Friday) by directly depositing it in his bank account, or he will destroy or sell my items.
I then I call the office again and spoke to the owner of the company (after asking to be moved up the line). The owner at first refuses to tell me his name. He also tells me the same thing as Haim, says I should pay it, and that “it is between me and the driver.” He repeatedly threatened me by stating that if I didn’t, I would never see my items again. He thought it was funny and told me that this is how it works. He does this to everyone, has been doing this exact scheme for six years, and bragged that people have called the police and tried to sue, but he always gets away with it. He told me that every time someone sues, he just moves all his assets out of the corporation and starts a new corporation. He bragged that this is how they make all their money, because if they followed the law, their margins would be too slim to compete in California. He then tells me his name is John Cohen (but, after some extensive research, I was able to trace his company and found out that the owner of the company’s name is Nisim Zvily and that their corporation and agent for service of process filings with the state have been suspended).
During the meantime, the driver also confirmed to my sister on the phone that he would destroy all of our items if we did not pay him the cash prior to him even showing up to her house. By that time, we found a weigh station that was less than a mile from my sister’s house, but he nonetheless refused to go. Then, he stated he would go, but delayed arrival (he was supposed to arrive between 9 and noon) until after the station had closed. He arrived at 3 and the station closed at 3, and then used that as an excuse for why he couldn’t get the property weighed. He refused to go to any of the other weigh stations. He said that if we delayed delivery, he was going to charge us $1000 per day.
We called the Waretown sheriff. The police officers did come to observe the delivery and cash payment and made a report, but did nothing else. They took down the driver’s name and license.
The driver took the cash and dumped all of the property onto the street. He did not even unload it into the house or garage, as required in the contract and as advertised, although there was plenty of space for the truck to pull right up to the house.
The weight of the property should be roughly 2000 pounds and the estimated price of $1333 was for 2667 pounds, which Carrie said was probably an overestimate so that there would be no surprises when I booked. We paid a total of $3, 540.
We photographed all the items and video recorded the delivery. We are also obtaining the police report that has the identities of the driver and his assistant. Based on the owner’s own statements, I believe that they do this to all their customers who move out of the state as he bragged to me that they cannot sue him and that he doesn't have to comply with the laws. He told me that is just the way he does business.