ORLANDO, Fla. — A couple who made a cross-country move to Florida lost everything they owned, after all of their belongings were auctioned off without them even knowing!
Their items were held in storage, and the bill went unpaid, after a moving broker hired a moving company with a history of complaints.
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Wynona Banks has survived a lot. She beat cancer, and took on a move from Indiana to Florida with her husband, to be closer to their son during retirement. Instead, they’re now living with him.
“This just has to be a mistake, or this is a bad dream. You know, after being married 33 years, we’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs, but to just see everything that you have gone,” Banks said.
Banks called Safe Ship out of Boynton Beach, not realizing the company was a moving broker that didn’t actually provide moving services. Lifetime Moverz out of New Jersey was sent to do the actual job.
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Banks watched as her family’s furniture, heirlooms and photo albums were loaded onto Lifetime Moverz’ truck. That’s the last time she’d ever see her possessions.
“You know, those are things you can’t replace,” she said.
The Banks couldn’t move into their new home right away, so Lifetime Moverz put their items in storage. The family claims even though they paid Lifetime Moverz fees each month to cover the storage costs, the bill at the storage unit went unpaid, leading to all of their items being sold at auction.
“It was all auctioned, and they wouldn’t even tell me who it was auctioned to,” Banks said. “We have no idea who bought it, where our things are, everything’s gone.”
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Lifetime Moverz has an ‘F’ rating with the Better Business Bureau, for not responding to customer complaints. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration received 14 complaints about the company last year, and when we called, the number listed on the contract went to an unidentified voicemail.
“Sadly, I’m not surprised,” insurance expert Tom Cotton said. “You take what’s cheap and you don’t realize that you’re not actually dealing with a moving and storage contractor. You’re dealing with a moving and storage broker.”
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Cotton recommends if you’re planning a long-distance move, insurance could be an option to protect your items. He says to declare the actual value of your items to have extra protection instead of the standards 60-cents per pound.
“You just need to tell them what that is, and there’s an upcharge for that. So, if anything goes wrong, you can actually replace your goods,” Cotton said.
Wynona signed a settlement agreement with Lifetime Moverz for just over $7,000; nowhere near what her items were worth. The company did not return our voicemail. A manager with Safe Ship told Action 9 they no longer work with Lifetime Moverz after this incident.
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“To me, it’s negligence. It’s a breach of contract. It’s really extremely bad customer service. It’s like they don’t care,” Banks said.
Experts say if your items do end up in storage, ask to see the warehouse in person, and find out if those storage fees can be paid directly.
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