Aka Century Movers Fraudulent and deceptive household goods carrier .....
In early February 2003, I contacted Century Express (Century) via e-mail requesting a quote for a move from Dublin, Ohio to Boulder, Colorado. I discovered Century through an Internet link while doing a search for housing in Colorado. I completed the application and submitted it to Century via e-mail.
I received an e-mail response to my inquiry. I called Century and spoke with Rachel Fhima, Relocation Consultant, and gave her a detailed verbal list of my household goods. Based upon this information, she provided a verbal quote of $1,897.
This price included two movers to disassemble (as needed) and load my household goods, pads and blankets, insurance, gas, taxes, tolls, mileage, and unload and reassemble my household goods. I was also receiving one months free storage in this price. Ms. Fhima also stated that my property would be delivered in five to seven days from the date of loading.
I thought that $1,897 was a little low for all of the services Century was providing. I asked her several times about what would happen in the event my household goods went over the allotted cubic feet, and she stated that the driver would work it out with me and there would be no additional charge.
On February 4, 2003 I received the quote via e-mail stating the price of my move and what services were included in that price. I then called Century, spoke with Rachel Fhima, and tentatively scheduled my move for February 26, 2003.
At this time, Ms. Fhima requested a $200 deposit (payable by credit card), with the balance to be paid by cash, money order, or cashiers check. On February 13, 2003, she e-mailed an Order for Service and a credit card authorization to be completed and signed by me. I completed these forms and returned them to her via facsimile on February 14, 2003.
On or about February 13, I spoke with Ms. Fhima regarding changing my moving date to February 21, 2003. She assured me that it would be no problem, and the movers were scheduled to arrive on February 21 at 9:00 a.m.
On February 21, 2003, I received a phone call around 8:30 a.m. from the movers advising me that they were going to be a couple of hours late. The two movers arrived shortly after 1:00 p.m. on Friday, February 21.
After most of my household goods were loaded on the moving truck, one of the movers, Lee Zeigel, started to complete the paperwork, rushing through his explanation regarding what the documents represented, and demanded that I sign the documents. I hesitantly signed the documents after his brief explanations, with the exception of the Bill of Lading.
After the movers finished loading my household goods onto the truck, I was told that I had exceeded the cubic feet allotted to me in my estimate by about 300 cubic feet. By this time it was after 6:00 p.m., and the main office in Ft. Lauderdale was closed, so I could not call to dispute the inflation of the cubic feet. The movers were very anxious to finish up the paperwork. Lee also stated that Rachel had misquoted and failed to explain to me the additional charge of $8/cubic foot and the extra charge for containers and supplies.
Lee stated that he would knock off 100 cubic feet in exchange for my paying him and his co-worker $350 each in a tip CASH no checks, and that they would follow me to an ATM machine so that I could get the money. I was also told that I was being charged for additional containers (boxes) and packing supplies (tape), and that based on the overage of cubic feet, that I would be charged an additional $8/cubic feet. I told him that I did not have $700 to tip him and his co-worker, and the most I could do was $200.
I then explained to him that I was not told about the additional cost for containers and packing supplies, nor was I told that additional cubic feet would be charged at $8/cubic foot. He explained that it was in the estimate I signed regarding the additional charges, and that the Department of Transportation (DOT) set the tariff regarding cost per cubic foot. The movers would not give to me a copy of the additional forms I signed. These documents are the only documents I received from the movers.
My original estimate was for $1,897. The total price ended up being $3,875. I paid by personal check $1,937, as well as an additional $200 (paid by personal check) to the movers.
By this time it was approximately 6:45 p.m., all of my household goods were loaded on the moving truck, and I was stuck paying this exorbitant amount because I did not know what was going to happen to my personal belongings if I did not cooperate with them.
On February 25, 2003, I spoke with Rachel Fhima regarding the underestimate of cubic feet, the demand for a tip from the movers, and the location of the storage unit and approximate date of delivery of my household goods. She transferred me to a lady named Yvonna.
Yvonna was extremely rude and uncooperative in providing information regarding the location of the storage unit and the approximate arrival date of my household goods. She stated that she would call back with information regarding the balance due and the delivery date. I also asked her for the location of the storage unit, and she was uncooperative in providing that information.
I continued to press her for this location and she told me it was located at 3837 Monaco Parkway in Denver, Colorado, and that I was only to contact Centurys office regarding access to the storage unit. Yvonna was vague and uncooperative regarding any information about the location or delivery of my household goods.
I did not hear from Yvonna. On March 3, 2003 I called Century again and spoke with Yvonna. She stated that she would call me the next day with the drivers name and cell phone number, date of delivery, and the balance due.
On March 5, 2003, I called Centurys office three times and got a voicemail recording. I could not leave a message in Centurys voicemail box as it was full. Later that evening, my brother, who lives in Ft. Lauderdale, called to tell me that Century was shut down by the FBI, and there was an article regarding the sting in the March 5, 2003 edition of the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinal. An Indictment was filed against Century Express and various employees of the company on February 18, 2003 and titled United States of America v. Century Express Van Lines, et al., U.S. District Court Southern District of Florida Case No. 03-60034.