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On Your Side Investigation: Veteran’s family moves to the Ozarks, $14,000 spent and stuff isn’t here

Published: Mar. 11, 2021 at 6:11 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 11, 2021 at 6:56 PM CST
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WAYNESVILLE, Mo. (KY3) - Not a very warm welcome for a West Coast veteran’s family living in the Ozarks. They moved to Waynesville at the beginning of the year.

They spent $14,000, but their belongings have yet to arrive.

NOTE: Since this story first aired, we’ve heard from several viewers offering to help the family. If you’d still like to help, email OYS@KY3.com

“We are literally living with the clothes we packed in a suitcase and backpack,” said Stephanie McCoy.

Her family moved from Seattle. They wanted a fresh start. Her two-year-old son, Troy, died from health complications at Seattle Children’s Hospital in 2019. A few months later, the family survived a house fire.

“I said, ‘God, what do you want me to do now? Where do we go from here?’ We’ve been through everything and now we go to survive once again,” said McCoy.

They packed what they could salvage from the fire. A Google search lead her to In Motion Movers.

After a phone call, they sent her a $6,000 estimate that says “First Available Delivery, January 15.”

A Washington charity that helps veterans paid the deposit. A few days before the move, McCoy said she needed more space on the trucks and got a new invoice. That more than doubled the price tag.

“Things started to go wonky,” she said.

Turns out, In Motion Movers is an organizer, a middle man. A different company, Bulls Moving, showed up for the move.

If McCoy wanted a guaranteed delivery date, she would have to pay extra..

“What are you talking about another $1,500 to get it on the 15th? That’s not the way it was planned,” she said.

After they loaded up, Bulls Moving gave them a final contract. It’s higher than the $12,000 quote.

Extra packing materials, more for fuel, and additional stuff to move. $14,240 minus the more than $4,000 deposit, means the charity still owed the movers almost $10,000.

“First estimate is a ballpark estimate,” said Rafael Ohan, Manger of Bulls Moving.

We asked him why McCoy still doesn’t have her stuff. In the contract it says “we don’t guarantee delivery dates.”

Ohan claims his payment from the charity didn’t arrive in January as planned.

“We’ve been put in the position. We need to wait until we get paid,” he said.

According to emails On Your Side obtained, charity workers disagree and say the money was sent right away. The proof of payment is dated February 1.

“It’s just sad, because this is federally funded money to help veteran families,” said McCoy.

“After that the crazy snow storm starts... the whole period of February... we can’t take responsibility on the delay,” said Ohan.

Now, there’s another problem. Despite the disagreement of a late payment, the items were in storage. There’s a fee.

“Now you owe $900. This is where we are,” said McCoy.

McCoy says she was told that charity can’t give any more money. She does not know what she’s going to do.

A couple of hours after On Your Side called Bulls Moving, they sent McCoy an email saying her stuff is on the way. It should arrive this week or next. It says the $900 payment should be received before they unload.

McCoy is afraid that will mean more fees if she can’t pay.

Before hiring movers

  • Make sure you work directly with the moving company.
  • Understand how and why price estimates might change.
  • Understand late fees.
  • Have someone you trust review the contract before you sign.
  • Keep copies of everything.

If you are moving across state lines or long distance, know the difference between a non-binding or binding estimate.

A non-binding estimate doesn’t lock in the price. Your actual move cost will be determined after the estimate and during the move. The price could go up at that time, and most likely will not go down.

A binding estimate means whatever the estimate says, you pay. It will say binding estimate on the estimate itself in clear writing.

The best advice for either binding or non-binding estimates is to get at least three quotes from movers and compare the estimates and to check their BBB rating.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com

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