On Your Side: Air Force Veteran fights to get military memorabilia, other belongings back from movers

If you’re looking to make a move soon, the BBB also offers some tips on how to avoid scams and hire trusted movers.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A veteran is fighting to get back her belongings, including her military memorabilia, she said was picked up by movers and never seen again. 

To make the cross-country move from Oregon to Rhode Island easier for her and her partner, Mallory O’Donnell decided to hire US Pro Moving and Logistics and paid more than $3,000 total for services.

The moving company subcontracted movers from Jacksonville.

It’s been more than a month, and the moving truck has never showed up to her new home.

It wasn’t just O’Donnell’s money lost, but her most prized possessions – childhood photos and paintings.

“I was Air Force for eight years,” O’Dennell said. “And so, all of my medals and plaques from every base that I’ve been to, and my old uniforms.”

O’Donnell said she signed the initial contract with US Pro Moving and Logistics, but on Jun. 7 East Freight Logistics – movers out of Jacksonville – came to her door.

“They showed up in this Enterprise truck,” she explained. “And said that their truck had broken down and then they had to get this one last minute, which made me a little concerned. I should have known better.“

O’Donnell says she has tried calling and texting US Pro Moving and Logistics several times but can no longer get ahold of anyone.

“Really the two most valuable things that they took were my TV and my expresso machine. That’s really it,” she said. “Everything else in there, it’s not valuable to anyone but me.”

The First Coast News On Your Side team called two different phone numbers and sat on hold with US Pro Moving and Logistics for a long time. A third number went straight to voicemail.

One representative finally answered and said the company did not have a media relations department. He also said he could not tell us anything about the job since the moving reservation wasn’t under our name.

The On Your Side team also reached out to the local movers who were subcontracted out. Three different phone numbers for East Freight Logistics went straight to voicemail. The Jacksonville address on the contract they gave to O’Donnell is a P.O. box.

The Better Business Bureau website shows 258 complaints were made against US Pro Moving and Logistics in the last three years.

The current alerts for the business say that BBB files have shown a pattern of complaints from consumers who allege refunds owed are not received and late/no delivery of consumer’s goods.

If you’re looking to make a move soon, the BBB also offers the following tips on how to avoid scams and hire trusted movers:

Do your research. Lookup Business Profiles for moving companies on BBB.org. The American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) and Canadian Association of Movers (CAM) also identify movers that have pledged to uphold high standards of trust and to resolve complaints quickly. Many movers that are BBB Accredited Businesses are also AMSA ProMovers or CAM Members. Note the length of time a company has been in business and read reviews from previous customers.

Verify the mover’s claims, credentials, and professional memberships. Scammers and fly-by-night operators won’t be able to substantiate a good reputation. Ask for proof of licenses, insurance, etc.

Get it in writing. Get three written estimates from different movers based on visits to your home. Though most professional movers do give quotes over the phone, it’s still a good idea to get written documentation of all the services you are receiving. If an estimate seems too good to be true, it likely is. If at any point the services change, whether on your part or the part of the professional, ensure that these changes are documented and understood by both parties.

Talk about the money.  Find out how and when payment is required.  Many companies require up to a 10% deposit to secure your moving date and require payment before your belongings are delivered. Find out what your payment options are and what method of payment is available. Let your bank know that you are in the process of relocating in the event they notice increased or unusual charges on your credit card.

Prepare for damage. Even though trustworthy movers are trained to handle your belongings and your home with care, it is difficult to move an entire household without at least some damage. Be sure to inquire about inadmissible and non-protected items, such as hazardous materials, jewelry, currency and others. Determine what is covered under your homeowners’ insurance policy and what is/is not covered under your replacement valuation protection. If you are arranging for other workers to be in and out of your home, consider documenting the conditions before and after access, in the event any property damage takes place. 

Protect your possessions. Make sure that your mover provides full-value protection insurance for any lost or damaged possessions. Note that insurance is by the pound, so expensive items such as a flat-panel television may need additional replacement cost coverage in case they are damaged in transit. Find out what your household insurance will and won’t cover during a move.

Take your valuables with you. Cash, coins, jewelry, photographs, and important papers should be taken with you or shipped separately using a shipping service with tracking numbers and insurance.

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