BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – Ysatiz Piñero is a South Florida girl who recently landed a dream job in Colorado.
She hired Cheney Brothers Worldwide Moving in February, put down a deposit and then made another payment when the movers showed up that month.
Per the contract, the balance would be due upon delivery.
“I said, ‘I fly in on the 3rd of March. I will be available March 4th,’” Piñero said. “‘Ok, great. We’ll try to be there close to it.’” That’s what they told her.
Per the contract, any oral delivery promises made are mere estimates, but delivery is guaranteed within 30 business days.
Once in Colorado, though, 30 days turned into 60 days, then 90 days, which she and her family spent in an empty apartment.
“We had a blizzard the week that we got here, and I had nothing at my house,” Piñero said. “No pots and pans, no clothes, no blankets, no pillows, no towels, nothing.”
Every time she called to see where her stuff was, she got a different excuse.
“The truck broke down,” she recalled being told. “Then they loaded the things, but the driver didn’t show up. I’ve literally called them almost every single day for the past three months.”
At one point, she was told her things were in a warehouse in Texas, and that was only until the last call, and what turned out to be the last straw.
“I said, ‘Where are my things?’ He said, ‘Your things are here in Florida, and they’re on a truck. They’re on a trailer.’ And I said, ‘So my things aren’t in a warehouse like you said?’”
“I said, ‘Take my things off the truck. I’m going to pick up my stuff. Enough is enough.’”
Piñero booked a flight to Florida, rented a moving truck and was told to meet her movers not at their Fort Lauderdale office, but rather at a storage facility in Plantation.
She had the police meet her there as well, just in case.
“It was not a temperature controlled space, just a concrete, like bay,” Piñero said. “There was probably seven other people’s belongings in the space.
“I have my baby pictures, I have my college degrees, I’m a first generation college student, all these things that are sentimental to me, they could’ve just left on the side of the road, and I had no idea.”
Piñero and her family then loaded up and drove all their belongings up to Colorado themselves.
“When I asked for a refund, they said they would provide a refund, deducting $150 per hour that was done for labor at origin of pickup, per person that worked,” she said.
Piñero also filed complaints with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Florida Attorney General’s Office.
Her complaint with the Better Business Bureau was one of several logged by Cheney Brothers’ customers.
She also called an attorney, Matthew Fischer.
“There’s a lot of unscrupulous movers down here that pull all kinds of stunts,” he said, adding that often when moves make a mess of things, people’s options are limited.
“There is a federal law called the Carmack Amendment,” Fischer said.
It’s part of a uniform set of laws from the early 1900′s for interstate carriers, like movers.
Those laws limit what customers can actually claim as damages.
“If you’re going to bring any kind of claim related to the delivery, damage, loss of your goods, you’ve got to bring a federal claim under the Carmack Amendment,” Fischer said.
Local 10 News’ Layron Livingston paid a visit to Cheney Brothers Worldwide Moving and spotted a large moving truck outside of the building, but a sign for a different company on the door.
A man who answered said he had heard of Cheney Brothers and that he knew it was a moving company that was somewhere in the building, but claimed the business he worked at was called Tilt Masters.
When Local 10 tried calling Cheney Brothers, the person who answered the phone hung up multiple times and would not give their name, or an address, but claimed Piñero’s belongings were delivered to her in Colorado.
Outside the building, a man was spotted getting into the moving truck.
At first, he said he was working for Cheney Brothers, but then quickly changed his story, denying to work for them, before calling the police.
Local 10 also called the police during the exchange.
After calming things down and sending the moving man on his way, officers thanked Local 10 for being there.
Apparently, they’ve had several calls about Cheney Brothers from several angry customers, and the company itself has called the police to report threats from its own workers.
A July police report details how a delivery driver threatened to keep a customer’s belongings if he didn’t get his money, and the delivery truck had been reported stolen in Illinois.
When asked where the company was located, police officers directed Local 10 right back to the same door that was visited before.
This time, a different man answered the door, and that man sounded a lot like the man Livingston spoke with on the phone.
Asked how his business was affiliated with Cheney Brothers, the man closed the door and locked it without answering.
“People need to know, Cheney Brothers Worldwide Moving Company is not honest,” said Piñero. “They messed with the wrong one.”
Point of note: Cheney Brothers Worldwide Moving is not affiliated with the South Florida-based food distributor by a similar name.
That’s what Piñero thought before shelling out nearly $1,400 to the moving company.
The company offered her $350 to settle things, but Piñero and her lawyer are gearing up for her legal fight.
Her options are limited since cases like these typically fall under the aforementioned Carmack Amendment, which limits damages a customer can claim when there’s a dispute involving a moving company.