POMPANO BEACH, Fla. - How would you feel if all your personal items went missing? Two customers say their hearts sank when a moving company wouldn't answer their calls and didn't deliver their items.
Your moving contract is just one piece of paper buried in a mountain of boxes, but you need to read it and get everything in writing before moving day.
As a caretaker, Debbie Smith formed a close bond with Sarah Feldman.
"She was 92. A little spitfire. Tough as nails," Smith remembered.
Feldman wanted her son in Mississippi to have her items when she died. Smith promised to help, and hired Pompano Beach based Ryder Moving and Storage (3000 NW 25th Avenue).
The movers cleared out the apartment in mid July, and scheduled delivery for early August.
"You get nowhere, and if they get back to you it's another five or six days," Smith said.
Frustrated with delays, Carmela also called the Consumer Watchdog.
Her items were picked up July 22 with a scheduled delivery in Ohio at the end of July.
"I'm a mess because to think that everything is gone. It's not a good feeling," Carmela said.
Carmela called the Watchdog when the company shut down its website www.rydermovingandstorage.com and temporarily disconnected its phone.
"I though it was Ryder. The moving Ryder. It was a big company. I assumed that it was ok. I will never do that again," Carmela explained.
In a lawsuit, the global transportation company "Ryder System, Inc." said consumers were calling them to complain about the Pompano movers failure to deliver furniture. However, the two companies are not related.
According to court records, the Pompano movers did not show up for a court hearing so a judge issued a preliminary injunction to stop all uses of the Ryder name.
On the phone, the company now calls itself "Storage and Moving Services."
Our calls weren't returned so we went to the Pompano Beach offices.
"We want to know where the stuff is?" Strathman asked.
"You guys can wait outside and find out," an employee said as she escorted us out of the building.
We waited outside, but employees who came out didn't answer our questions.
"Why won't you tell us where everyone's stuff is?" Strathman asked.
The employee said nothing, and got in a car.
Out of state and out of options, Carmela sent her nephew to pick up her items in a U-Haul truck. We followed the U-Haul to a storage facility where Carmela's boxes were sitting.
Carmela said she was crying when she finally saw her stuff, after her nephew drove them to Ohio.
"I was just like hugging everything," Carmela said.
It's been an emotional wait for Smith too.
"This is for Sarah. We got to get her things so she can rest in peace," Smith explained.
In 2013, 60 complaints were filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Better Business Bureau, and Florida Attorney General against the company formerly known as Ryder Moving and Storage.
According to the agencies, the majority of the complaints involved pickup and delivery issues.
A customer who moved from Florida to New York told the Attorney General, "I'm terrified I'll never see my things again, and it's everything I have in the world."
A California customer told the Attorney General "We have been given false delivery dates"
"I know nobody in the office wants to talk to you guys," an employee said.
According to the fine print of the moving contract, delivery is guaranteed within 30 days of the first available delivery date.
A Boise customer told the Attorney General the guaranteed delivery passed. The customer described the movers as "non-responsive."
An employee said some items have been delivered to customers, but couldn't explain the delays described by customers.
The wait finally ended for Smith. Her elderly friend's items finally arrived in Mississippi seven weeks after pickup.
"I promised her and my words mean a lot," Smith explained.
Before you hire a mover, get the delivery date in writing. Research the company's complaints and licensing. For an out of state move, you should check the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration 's database. The feds also put together " Protect Your Move " for other tips to protect your money and move.
For moves within the state, you can check complaints with the Palm Beach County Consumer Affairs Division if the movers are based in Palm Beach County. You can search the complaint history and make sure the company is licensed.
Statewide, you can search the Florida Movers & Warehousemen's Association to find registered movers.
Finally, buy extra insurance if you want to be protected. Most movers only pay 60-cents per pound for damage.