HOUSTON - A Houston couple says they paid movers thousands of dollars to move them to Chicago, but have gone six weeks without delivery.
Moving is stressful enough. Not getting your furniture after paying thousands can make it a nightmare. The Better Business Bureau says it happens all too often.
"I completely feel ripped off," said Dana Gonzalez.
Gonzalez says she and her fiance booked their move from Houston to Chicago with Mega Van Lines of Del Ray Beach, Florida, and got a "Binding Moving Estimate" for $2,167. But she says when Pioneer Moving and Storage of New Waverly and Hunstville, Texas loaded her things, she says she received an invoice for $3,223.
"So that was over one thousand dollars they increased our moving amount to be, which was huge," said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez says she paid both companies deposits, totaling about $2,200. But she says their new apartment in Chicago has been empty for six weeks.
"So basically this is our living room that we are working with," she said, showing us through a Zoom call an empty room with two folding chairs.
Gonzalez says she tried and tried to get answers.
"After a lot of unanswered emails and texts, I was trying to call and email both companies, Megan Van lines and Pioneer. I have never been able to get through to Pioneer Moving," she said.
The Better Business Bureau has given both Mega Van Lines and Pioneer Moving and Storage "F" ratings, and has put an Alert on Pioneer Moving and Storage's file stating:
"BBB files indicate that this business has a pattern of complaints. Consumers allege they are charged significantly higher fees than originally quoted. Additionally, consumers alleged delayed delivery times and difficultly contacting the business if items are missing from delivery or damaged. On October 12, 2020, BBB submitted a written request to the company encouraging them to address the pattern of complaints. As of October 30, 2020, all mail has been returned as undeliverable and BBB has been unable to make contact with the business."
We contacted Mega Van Lines for comment. They sent our call to Pioneer Moving & Storage.
Pioneer's owner, Rocky Hatcher, says COVID has prevented them from keeping up with deliveries, and they have discounted Gonzalez's final bill by $325. He says higher charges happen when the moving broker underestimates the size of the load.
The Better Business Bureau says movers can increase an estimate, depending on the contract, if the shipment is bigger than expected.
If a mover does not deliver items, the BBB's Erin Bufner says consumers can take the following steps:
"Number one, if you have paid with a credit card, you can absolutely dispute that charge with your credit card company, number two you can file a complaint with law enforcement, certainly the Better Business Bureau," said Dufner.
"You may have additional insurance through your homeowners policy, and also every move has a specific amount of insurance," Dufner suggested.
Since we began investigating, Gonzalez says she finally got her belongings.
"It's just been very frustrating, very stressful, too," she said.
Mega Van Lines has not given us comment for the story.
The best way to avoid a higher charge from a mover upon pick up is to get an in-person estimate and make sure it's binding.