ALERT- Avoid Louis Van Lines

Use this forum to report moving scams, and disreputable moving companies
kamal55555
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:27 pm

ALERT- Avoid Louis Van Lines

Postby kamal55555 » Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:46 pm

We are the unfortunate victims of a scam operation - Louis Van Lines based in Massachusetts. I am writing here to both warn others about this company - the story looks very similar to the true story at http://www.movingscam.com/theTrueStory.shtml
and we wish we had found this website before and had read the thread on Louis Van Lines here at http://www.movingscam.com/forum/rss.php?topic=9534
It may have alerted us a little about what we were getting into. They had all the signs of a scam and we were not even thinking about the possibility of this being a scam.

The second reason to write is to seek advice from the board members. What else should we and can we be doing at this point of time?

Thanks! Please read on if you can offer suggestions...


July 5th to July 19th:
We employed Louis Van Lines (US DOT: 1342167, ICC MC: 517032, Registration #: 31169) for a move from our residence in Grafton, MA to our new residence in Austin, TX. We found them through an online search for movers in MA and discussed terms with them extensively during the period of July 5th 2007 to July 19th 2007. We exchanged multiple emails and multiple phone calls a day. Their phone number was 1-866-848-3127.

The sales person, who went by "Judy" (extension 102) and did not give us a last name, provided verbal assurances of delivering the goods transported in 5 days after pick up and provided a worst case estimate of 14 days. We were provided an estimate based on list of items to be moved and not based on visual inspection. We were informed that providing a quote upon visible inspection would take until the end of September and that their quote is binding and will not change as long as the list of items do not change. We were informed that $100 was due to reserve the move and 50% of the move cost was due upon pick-up. We were also informed that we will receive a firm delivery date within 24-48 hours after the goods are picked up.

July 20th:
On July 20th, 3 movers came on an unmarked vehicle and loaded all the goods from 7 pm to 11 pm at night. After loading all the goods, they asked us to pay the 50% which we paid in cash. Following that, they asked us to sign the contract papers in which they had written a delivery estimate of "14-21 bday". When asked what that meant, they said "you just need to sign. rest you have discussed with sales already". We could not contact the company at 11 am on a Friday as they were closed. We signed the contract as we had no other choice at that point and were leaving town on Sunday morning (the 22nd)

July 21st to 26th:
We contacted the sales office and also emailed "Judy" in detail and also requested for a firmer delivery date as promised at the time of providing the quote. We then left both voice mails and email every single day from July 21st to the 26th but did not receive any response. On July 26th, we got a phone call and an email from "Judy" saying that she is waiting to hear answers from her "superiors" but never heard back from her after that - again!

August 1st:
We called "Judy" again to get a status update. Their worst case scenario of August 3rd (14 days) was approaching and we had not even received an estimate of when it would be delivered as yet. "Judy" passed on the phone to her superior who went by the name of "John". "John" simply claimed that it is not time yet, the contract says 14-21 days and so if the goods are not delivered by 21 days then we have a reason to worry or complain.

August 2nd to August 10th:
We continued calling "Judy" and "John" every day and the standard answer we got was "we are sales, you need to talk to dispatch". And when asked for the number for "dispatch" they said "we do not know the number for dispatch" and the number listed in their voice mail message for dispatch was incorrect also. On August 10th, when the 21 days time period passed, "John" said he would find out the status and personally call us back. Later in the day, a person called from "617.869.8013" and said "I am Mark, I am dispatch. We said 14-21 business days in the contract and so it is not time yet" and hung up. "Mark" spoke with a very thick Hiatian accent.

August 11th to August 13th:
We continued calling "Mark" every day and asked him id they have charted a route and when they expect to be here. "Mark"'s answer was "I am dispatch, not the driver, I cannot give you an estimate". When asked for the driver's number, "Mark" said he will give us th driver's number after the truck has been dispatched with our goods.

August 14th:
We called Mark to remind him that the 21 business days deadline was approaching and if he can give us a better estimate and the driver's number at this point of time. This was a call at 11 am central time. "Mark" said that he was at home and sleeping and did not have access to the "system" and that he will give us a call later in the evening.

August 15th:
We did not hear from "Mark" on the 14th evening and so called him again on the 15th morning and left a message. Later that evening (on the 15th) "Mark" called and said "I am Louis, the owner of the company. Your goods were loaded today and has been dispatched. They should be there on Thursday or friday and call me if you need anything at the same number. I am Louis, the owner". At this point, things started getting a little sketchy - the person who had claimed to be "Mark" was now saying he is "Louis". I asked for the driver's phone number and he repsonded saying "This is not my driver, so I will get it for you and give you a call back".

August 16th:
We did not hear back from Louis with the driver's number on the 15th and so called again on the 16th morning. This time "Louis" said that they plan to load the truck Thursday evening (as opposed to the previous statement that the truck was already loaded on Wednesday and on its way) and that he cannot give me the driver's number as this is a different driver and that the driver will contact us 2 hours before they are to get to Austin.

August 17th, 18th, 19th:
We did not get any call from anyone and contacted the Louis Van Lines number at "617.869.8013" and left multiple messages requesting a call back but did not hear back.

August 20th:
Finally on Monday, August 20th, we left another message and this time mentioned that we will be going to the police at this point as we are not sure what to believe. Within 5 minutes of that message, we got a call from "857.212.5744" and a person informed us "I am Mustafa and I am the Louis Van Lines driver. My truck broke down in New York, so I am renting a new truck and will be there tomorrow".

August 21st:
We contacted the "857.212.5744" number on the 21st morning to get a status on where the driver was. When we said "Hi, just wondering where you are at", not realizing who was calling, he said "in Boston, why?". And when I reminded him who I was, he said "oh, yes, I am New York, 5 miles from New York, on my way to Texas and should be there later today or tomorrow". At this point we got very nervous as the person was clearly lying and attempts to reach "Louis" was unsuccessful for 5 days now and we left multiple voice mails a day and even threatened to lodge a complaint with the police to investigate and this person was claiming he can get from New York to Austin, TX in less than a day!

We contacted the "857.212.5744" number again in the evening and "Mustafa" said that he was now in New Jersey (after 10 hours!!!) and that he would be in Texas later in the night on the 22nd.

August 22nd:
We contacted "Mustafa" at "857.212.5744" multiple times and left multiple voice mail messages. He would pick up the phone and hang up or let it just go to voice mail but would not respond. We contacted Louis Van lines at "617.869.8013" multiple times and left messgaes and they did not return our calls either.

So it has been over a month since the goods were picked up, over the 21 business days that was promised (after the initial 5 days, followed by 14 days followed by 14-21 days followed by 14-21 business days) and we have been unable to contact the company for over 6 days and the alleged driver for over 24 hours. On some internet research we found that the company owner's name is Louis Murat and is a Haitian native (explains the accent) and that they have only 1 van and only 1 driver and that driver has a 100% out-of-service record!!! And they have been eligible for inter-state moves only since last year.

At this point we have no contact what so ever with the company and have no idea as to where the goods are. The information we have is:

Louis Van Lines
US DOT: 1342167
ICC MC: 517032
Registration #: 31169
http://www.louisvanlines.com
Owner: Louis Murat
Phone (sales): 1-866-848-3127
"Judy": 1-866-848-3127 Extn: 102
"John": 1-866-848-3127, no extension provided
Phone (dispatch/"Louis"/"Mark"): 617.869.8013
Phone (driver/"Mustafa"): 857.212.5744

we called the Austin Police and opened up a case (Report # 152989) and they recommended that we should talk to the local police station where we last saw them and the goods (Grafton, MA). So we called the Grafton Police Department and have opened up a case with the police detective.

We have been asked to give the above chronological order of events to help with their investigation against this company and so we have done that.

Thanks for any and all advice you can offer. I hope more people find this website before they hire movers and can benefit from our experience with Louis Van Lines and avoid being scammed. And hope some of you who have been unfortunate like us to be scammed thus have advice for us on what can be done at this stage.

Diane
Posts: 15824
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2003 12:18 am
Location: Los Angeles

Re: Any advice? Louis Van Lines - scam, theft, police report filed

Postby Diane » Wed Aug 22, 2007 7:37 pm

I added them to the "Avoid" category on the Superlist linked to below my name.
Diane
Check out domestic companies on this thread. Click here for a detailed, authoritative article on international moving.

kamal55555
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:27 pm

Re: Any advice? Louis Van Lines - scam, theft, police report filed

Postby kamal55555 » Wed Aug 22, 2007 8:01 pm

Update:

- After reading this site, I followed the procedure described. I filed a complaint with movingscam.com, and with the inspector general at the DOT and the FMCSA. The email to the DOT just came back with a note saying "if an inter-state issue contact the FMCSA and if an intra-state contact the attorney genral"

- I tried a little trick to see if there will be a response. so i borrowed a friend's cell phone with a 978 area code and called the owner's number - "louis" and this time, he picked up immediately and when he heard my voice he hung up.

- I then called the driver "Mustafa" with the 978 phone and he too picked up and here's how the dialog went:

Me: Hi Mustafa

Mustafa: Who is this?

Me: This is XYZ from Austin

Mustafa: Man, you keep calling me man. You are stressing me out. I am trying to help you here and trying to get your stuff to you. I am just the driver man, you should call the office. You shouldn't call me. I am getting stressed. Why are you calling me? I feel like blowing you up.

Me: I am sorry. I was just calling so I can get an idea of whether or not you will be coming today as you mentioned before so I can be available at home when you are here.

Mustafa: No man, you cannot call me. You get that. I will be there when I am. You cannot call me. You should call the office.

He was getting really annoyed and angry and started yelling - so I simply said "ok. will do" and hung up.

I think we will continue talking to the Grafton police detective tomorrow - just in case this guy is still trying to just get away with stuff - who knows what these guys are up to. And I am going to call the Austin PD again tomorrow and ask if they can be here if at all this guy "Mustafa" comes here with our stuff. Sounds a little too scary for me to be dealing with him alone in the house and with a 2 year old to top things off!

Diane, great website and thanks for maintaining this. Again, wish I had seen this a couple of months back. Well, live and learn I guess. Do you have any other advice for us at this point?

farrah7031
Posts: 4619
Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2006 5:08 am
Location: Tallahassee, FL

Re: Any advice? Louis Van Lines - scam, theft, police report filed

Postby farrah7031 » Wed Aug 22, 2007 8:12 pm

Just more information:
http://corp.sec.state.ma.us/corp/corpse ... =000886949

Name: MURAT LOUIS
No. and Street: 49 PARKER ST.
City or Town: WATERTOWN
State: MA Zip: 02472

I can't look up the website information right now, but I will tomorrow.

farrah7031
Posts: 4619
Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2006 5:08 am
Location: Tallahassee, FL

Re: Any advice? Louis Van Lines - scam, theft, police report filed

Postby farrah7031 » Wed Aug 22, 2007 8:17 pm

http://www.bosbbb.org/reports/reliabili ... rmId=99562

http://li-public.fmcsa.dot.gov/LIVIEW/p ... ath=LIVIEW

LOUIS VAN LINES, INC.
65 SPRAGUE STREET
BOSTON MA 02136
(617) 276-9026
Fax: (617) 314-6144

farrah7031
Posts: 4619
Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2006 5:08 am
Location: Tallahassee, FL

Re: Any advice? Louis Van Lines - scam, theft, police report filed

Postby farrah7031 » Wed Aug 22, 2007 8:18 pm

Also, see my post on Where To Complain:
http://www.movingscam.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9256

Diane
Posts: 15824
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2003 12:18 am
Location: Los Angeles

Re: Any advice? Louis Van Lines - scam, theft, police report filed

Postby Diane » Wed Aug 22, 2007 8:18 pm

Hi - a couple of people have gotten results by filing a police report of theft of their belongings, as you're apparently doing. This isn't the classic scam because they haven't asked you for more money as yet. It's totally unacceptable behavior, of course, but it could be that they are just incredibly incompetent and are trying to gather together enough loads to make it worth their while to drive to Texas. Your things are probably still in storage in MA. MusicMom may have other suggestions, but to me, you are doing all you can do. I'm pretty sure that you'll get your stuff eventually because otherwise they can't get paid.

kamal55555
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:27 pm

Re: Any advice? Louis Van Lines - scam, theft, police report filed

Postby kamal55555 » Wed Aug 22, 2007 8:22 pm

Thanks for that additional digging up Farrah. I will pass those also to the Grafton PD tomorrow. Looking at the half full glass I guess - given all this public info available on these guys, I am going to hope that they are not going to run away with our stuff. They just are unprofessional and incapable movers who should be avoided but not felons? At this stage in the game, I will take it. Again, wish I had known better but at this stage I will settle for getting my stuff safe (it scares me to even think of everything that they have - not just the financial loss in terms of furniture and clothes and kids toys and books and electronics etc., etc., but also things that are of sentimental value and cannot be replaced like photos of ancestry, my wife's veterinary notes, my medical records that can be pain to get another copy of....etc., etc.,)

kamal55555
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:27 pm

Re: Any advice? Louis Van Lines - scam, theft, police report filed

Postby kamal55555 » Wed Aug 22, 2007 8:50 pm

Diane, I tend to agree with your comments. Louis Van Lines is obviously just an extremely incompetent company or rather individual given there is just one guy and I was extremely dumb to have not investigated more before I gave them the job. But at the same time, I am worried because I do not buy the "otherwise they do not get paid". I have already paid $1000 of the $1867 and the stuff in their possession is probably worth more than 30-40 times what they will get by delivering the stuff to me ($867).

There is also the issue of how much longer should I keep waiting before starting to buy new stuff. We have been eating off paper plates and plastic cups and sleeping on an borrowed airbed for way too long and there is only so much time the 2 year old is going to keep repeating "xyz toy - truck, coming"... :-(

The other issue is that, the sales person Judy mentioned that they are able to give me such a great price because I am the last load on the truck and since it is the last load the are offering me the discount and able to do this at such a cheap price. If that was the truth then it should have been here - but that was obviously a lie. As one of your posts mention, they are "extremely nice" to you when they are selling and talk about "professionals, doing this for a long time and industry experience" etc., etc., and the fact of the matter is that the sales person Judy of Louis Van Lines is the master con artist in this whole story. Ok, maybe the owner Louis ties for first place, but looks like this is just a two person company anyway with the driver being 100% out of service and the current driver being "not my driver" per Louis.

Fingers crossed. Hope we get past this and settle down in the new place soon.

farrah7031
Posts: 4619
Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2006 5:08 am
Location: Tallahassee, FL

Re: ALERT- Avoid Louis Van Lines

Postby farrah7031 » Thu Aug 23, 2007 9:26 am

Just a note that I changed the Topic to ALERT - Avoid.

kamal55555
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:27 pm

Re: ALERT- Avoid Louis Van Lines

Postby kamal55555 » Thu Aug 23, 2007 1:17 pm

Status update - still nothing. After that conversation with Mustafa yesterday, we are not sure that we should call him again. We are waiting on a call back from the Grafton PD detective also.

The wait continues....
- 35 days since good were picked up and counting
- 30 days since originally promised delivery date and counting
- 8 days since last contact with the company and counting
- 6 days since revised delivery date (21 business days) and counting

Fingers crossed and continuing to hope for the best...

ArchieWhite
Posts: 2942
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 11:38 am

Re: ALERT- Avoid Louis Van Lines

Postby ArchieWhite » Thu Aug 23, 2007 1:48 pm

This is a classic case....I would contact moverescue.com they are a non profit entity that offers legal assistance, and has a lot of clout. If this mover you chose is a member of AMSA, they have clout too. I would start with moverescue.com and see what they can do.

kamal55555
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:27 pm

Re: ALERT- Avoid Louis Van Lines

Postby kamal55555 » Thu Aug 23, 2007 3:08 pm

Thanks ArchieWhite. I will contact moverescue.com right away and find out what they can do here. Will keep the board updated for everyone's benefit and learning....

bvg1981
Posts: 24
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2007 12:48 pm
Contact:

Re: ALERT- Avoid Louis Van Lines

Postby bvg1981 » Thu Aug 23, 2007 3:26 pm

I had basically the same thing happen to me with a company out of NJ -- contacting moverescue.com got the ball rolling in an increadibly substantial way. Within three days, I had a confirmed delivery date and sudden openess from the scam company.

kamal55555
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:27 pm

Re: ALERT- Avoid Louis Van Lines

Postby kamal55555 » Fri Aug 24, 2007 10:28 am

Status update:

Talked in detail to the Grafton PD. Their take is that you got scammed and since the business still exists, this cannot be considered as larceny. If the business shut down then you go to the Attorney General's office and file a claim with their insurance company. But as of now they are just waiting to make their trip worthwhile and it may be a while before you see your stuff and they are just going to lie and jerk you around. I am not saying I will not call them, but basically there is little to nothing you can do but to sit around and wait.


I got a call back again from the Police detective as I was typing this message - he mentioned that he has talked to the company owner Louis who said "his stuff is on the way, we have been in regular contact with him". to which the police detective said "that is not true. his stuff is not there and if you do not straighten this out today, i will be calling the attorney general to investigate". For that, Louis apparently said "the driver Mustafa's truck broke down and I will put it on a new truck and get it to him by Monday". The police detective asked him to call me today and give a final and binding estimate on when I will get my stuff and then call them back and give them an update and that he will then verify with me to make sure I am satisfied.

So the detective gave me this update and wished me luck.

I am now waiting for the call from the owner - 3 hours have passed by without any call. I think I will call the police detective again at 3 pm eastern if I do not hear anything by then.

I also plan to call moverescue.com now to double the pressure on the company.

Hopefully this all culminates peacefully.


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