It’s been more than a year, and Patrick and Michael Buckley — twin brothers — are out thousands of dollars after a moving company they hired to hold onto their possessions went belly up.
All they want is their stuff back.
It started in June 2016, when Patrick Buckley contracted with Fastway Moving of Secaucus. The company was to pick up furniture and other items from his Morristown apartment, along with items belonging to his brother. The company would store the items until the brothers had a destination for them.
The move would cost $660, paperwork showed. The first two months of storage would be free, then cost $105 per month. The return move would cost another $660.
On July 6, 2016, workers came with a truck and loaded up the items. That’s when the first red flag was raised.
“They tried to charge me more that day, but I had emails proving the cost was $660,” said Patrick Buckley, 53.
Two weeks later, Buckley called the company to verify the storage costs.
All was well.
But as the fall became winter, Buckley realized he hadn’t received any monthly storage bills.
It took a while to get through to the company, but when he did, a rep said the monthly cost would be higher — $247.50 per month — because the stuff took up more cubic feet than expected. Buckley argued that wasn’t what he was promised.
More months passed, and Buckley still didn’t receive a bill.
Finally, in March, he was worried.
“I became concerned and insisted they send me photos of my stuff in storage,” Buckley said. “They complied and sent me six photos, both of the outside wooden crates and the insides of some where I recognized my furniture.”
With proof his stuff was still around, Buckley wanted to make sure his account was current.
He said he was instructed to send a money order for $735 — seven months at $105 a month, and the price would go up after that — to an address in Kearny.
Fastway said it never received it, so he stopped payment on it and sent another money order. This one was received, he said.
In April, he said, he mailed a personal check for $247.50.
For the May payment, Buckley said he was told to wire transfer funds to bank account for Abreu Logistics.
Bamboozled later learned this company name was a d/b/a (doing business as) for Fastway, located in Pompano Beach, Fla.
By June, Buckley had moved to Long Island and was ready to arrange delivery.
“From June 19 to June 23 I called 50 times or more,” he said. “Sometimes a woman who doesn’t speak English picked up. She either disconnects me or puts me into the voice mail I have gotten too many times.”
At one point, another woman promised to call the next day to schedule the move, Buckley said, but she never called.
He also sent numerous emails, the paper trail shows, for which he received several responses, but none offered specifics. Buckley asked for phone calls back, but he never received one.
Buckley next contacted police in Kearny and Secaucus. Each sent a patrol car to the company addresses, but there was no Fastway Moving to be found, Buckley said.
The Secaucus officer said the building was vacant, Buckley said, and the brothers filed a police report.
Buckley also complained to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). He learned Fastway has an “F” rating with 15 complaints. The company was cited by BBB for unauthorized use of the BBB Accredited Business seal, and for using an incorrect “A+” rating on its website.
Buckley next filed a complaint with Consumer Affairs. An investigator said he would do an on-site investigation and get back to Buckley.
Buckley continued to call and email the company, but he got no satisfaction.
“I think my stuff is gone,” Buckley said.
He asked Bamboozled for help.
TRACKING IT DOWN
While we asked Consumer Affairs for an update on the case, we did a little digging.
Public records show there’s a $19,310 federal tax lien — just filed in March — against Fastway. There’s also a judgment for $8,159 against the company from 2016.
The company’s charter and authority to do business in New Jersey was revoked by the state earlier this year because Fastway didn’t file an annual report for two consecutive years, records show.
Because Fastway does interstate moves, it’s regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
FMSCA issued Fastway a $50,060 civil penalty in November 2016 “for multiple household goods (HHG) violations under Part 375, two safety related violations, and unauthorized transportation,” a spokesman said.
There were 15 violations in all, public records show.
The agency issued an “Out-of-Service order,” which means the company can’t operate.
That wasn’t good news for the Buckleys.
While Buckley filed a complaint with FMCSA, we tried to reach out to the company. No one returned our messages or emails.
In the meantime, the Consumer Affairs investigator got busy. He first visited the warehouse, which was long ago vacated, Buckley said he was told.
The investigator then had a series of emailed with the company on June 30.
“You are hereby directed to contact me ASAP regarding the HHG of Patrick Buckley currently in the care and custody of your company. This is an emergency,” he wrote.
The company responded, saying its office is closed “for financial reasons” and that it’s trying to locate Buckley’s belongings.
The investigator demanded a delivery date and contact information for the company owner.
The company said it needed more time to find Buckley’s stuff, and that the owner, Jean Pierre, is in Brazil.
The July 4 holiday came and went, and on July 5, the company responded with an offer to deliver Buckley’s things on Saturday, July 8.
“We will hire a company to deliver and you will not pay anything for this delivery, due all occurrences,” the company’s email said.
Buckley responded to the company, and they set a delivery time of between 9 and 11 on Saturday. But then, the company didn’t respond to several requests for contact info for the movers who would be making the delivery.
Buckley was hopeful, but not confident, that he’d finally get his stuff.
It didn’t happen.
“I feel Bamboozled. Truly and completely Bamboozled,” Buckley said on Saturday after no moving truck arrived.
He said he’s distressed, worn out, exhausted and saddened “by these thieving criminals.”
“Not only did they take my stuff but they continued with this sham. They were taking my money all year,” Buckley said. “Was my stuff fenced? I have no idea.”
Buckley has no choice but to wait and see if FMCSA or Consumer Affairs can do anything further. We’ll keep you posted on the case.
The folks at FMCSA urge consumers who are considering a possible interstate move to visit the ProtectYourMove.gov website. It offers information on what to look for when hiring an interstate moving company, understanding moving fraud, searching for movers in the national database of registered moving companies, submitting a moving fraud complaint to the National Consumer Complaint Database, and more.
If you’ve been a victim of moving fraud, you can file a complaint with FMCSA through the agency’s National Consumer Complaint Databaseor by calling 1-888-DOT-SAFT.