HOLDENVILLE, Okla. (KFOR) – Moving across the country can be one of the most stressful things you can do; even more so when you have to trust someone else with everything you own.
KFOR’s In Your Corner Team stepped in to help a Holdenville family Monday, who said a moving company was holding all of their possessions “hostage” until they promised to fork over thousands of dollars more than the original quote.
Sara Treadman told the station with a toddler and another baby on the way, her family made the decision to move from Iowa back to her home state, in order to be closer to family.
“I felt a calling to come back for long time [but] I only wanted to come back to my home,’ she said.
Treadman and her husband said they did their research and chose Safe Ship Moving Services for a combination of what they thought were solid service reviews and a lower price than competitors.
According to its website, the Florida-based company acts as a broker for a wide range of moves, ‘coordinating and arranging for the transportation of household goods by an FMCSA authorized motor carrier’.
Accordingly, the couple said a company known as Jackson Movers was contracted to complete the move.
“They told us that we got a sale Labor Day sale. That’s why it was so much cheaper,” said Sara.
“[We ordered] the white glove service. They’re supposed to come in and pack everything for you,” she added.
“[The cost for that service] was $15,192,” added her husband Rich Fehl.
That white glove service Rich and Sara ordered was anything but what was advertised, according to Rich and Sara.
“They ran out of boxes went to Walmart, bought more boxes,” said Rich.
“[They] left our house in Iowa with trash, with unloaded items with items our realtor found in drawers they never even took out to accommodate [and] we have all of this documented,” added Sara.
According to the couple, the worst was still to come; in Iowa, the couple said they were told the estimated cost was a lot lower than it should have been.
“[They said] we had additional cubic feet, and they would not load anything unless we agreed to pay more.”
But, the couple says the new quote was not presented in writing, and the old quote was based on a document estimate made by Safe Ship Moving Services.
When the moving truck finally pulled up in front of their home in Holdenville, the movers wouldn’t unload it.
“They refused to open the truck. They wouldn’t even unlock it to let us see inside [and] this is after we received a text message on Saturday saying we only owed them [a little more] than $1,000.”
“I had $1,136 in my wallet to pay to them … then I get a call from Jackson movers, the operations manager, yesterday saying I owed them $8,000,” Rich added.
The couple told KFOR it felt like a shakedown.
“They said they would not open it until we gave them cash or we can do a wire or a money order from the post office and I informed them today is a federal holiday,” said Sara.
Numerous calls to Safe Ship failed to resolve the situation.
“We were not making progress on our own and we had been completely shut down,” she added.
That’s when KFOR stepped in to help.
While phone calls and emails from the station to Safe Ship were not returned, the moving company agreed to honor the original balance due by the couple, the same day.
“The phone rings [and] it’s the broker [from] Safe Ship and they say ‘we want to charge you the original price that we gave you’,” said Sara.
A binding estimate from a moving company, like the couple received, usually means any changes need to be made and agreed to in writing, by both the consumer and the moving company, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
As far as Safe Ship Moving Services, a profile on the website for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows dozens of Complaints lodged against the company – including 42 so far this year:
According to the agency, the majority of those complaints are due to estimates/final charges and consumer complaints for deceptive business practices.
FMCSA’s Protect Your Move website helps consumers visitors to look up interstate moving companies by state or by name, to review both the consumer complaint history, and the company’s on-road safety performance records.
Sara said while she’s moved several times in her life, she never experienced anything like this move.
“Moving companies are hard. It’s a business They’ve got a bad rap. You’ve got to know what you’re getting into and we did not,” she said.
In an email sent Tuesday evening to the station, a Safe Ship Moving Services provided a statement addressing their policies in charges over and above their estimations, while saying the company is “committed to resolving this matter to the satisfaction of all parties involved”:
Charges Over and Above our Estimations: Safe Ship Moving provides customers with transparent estimates, and any charges over and above the initial estimate are typically communicated and explained by the contracted moving company, in this case, Jackson Movers LLC. We ensure that the carriers we partner with adhere to industry standards for pricing and billing. If you have specific questions about the breakdown of charges, I recommend reaching out directly to Jackson Movers LLC for a detailed explanation.
Delivery Protocol and Cash Transactions: Safe Ship Moving does not have policies regarding cash-only transactions. However, most of the individual moving companies may have their own protocols. Attached I have included our TERMS OF PAYMENTS as in listed in Mrs. Treadwell’s Estimate.Maxwell Parker, Safe Ship Moving Services