Crazy Moving Scam In San Jose Area

RipOffReports has two claims—one of which was also sent to us by a reader—about Champions Movers and/or A.S.A.P. Relocations of San Jose, California. Or Fremont, California. That’s part of the problem—they seem to be intentionally using a mixture of names and addresses to help hide from what’s shaping up to be a terrible reputation.

One complaint claims that in June they bumped their quote from $1,070 to $2,460 after they’d loaded up her furniture and boxes, and threatened damage to her belongings if she didn’t pay up and sign a new contract on the spot. She paid and signed, but immediately put a stop payment on the check, and she hasn’t seen her furniture since.

She also says she went to their office at 453 Queens Lane to negotiate a fairer payment, only to discover that there wasn’t any office there. After more research online she discovered many customers claiming that Champions Movers is also known as A.S.A.P. Relocations with the same address, and that the Better Business Bureau of San Jose has 88 complaints on file against A.S.A.P. and is on the blacklist at MovingScam.com.

The Champions Movers of the second complaint, on the other hand, lists an entirely different address in Fremont, and has “only” 4 BBB complaints against it and a different owner’s name. Where the two stories intersect is that both customers claim that they were also given a third address, 2295 Ringwood Avenue, which is also registered to an A.S.A.P. Relocations but doesn’t have any BBB complaints on file. In other words, if you think you’re being a savvy consumer by researching either company on the BBB site, there’s a good chance nothing will turn up unless you happen to search for the right name/address combo.

The reader who wrote to us has a list of legitimate complaints:

  • they approximately tripled the amount they quoted to him
  • although they promised a same-day move, they showed up so late in the evening that the move lasted until after midnight, at which point police were called by a disturbed neighbor and they had to postpone the move until the following afternoon;
  • they damaged several items of furniture as well as the interior of the new home

To top things off, when he complained to the Better Business Bureau, they offered him coupons to a restaurant as compensation instead of a refund. (Click the third “More” link in the complaint report to read a detailed response by the company.)

So anyway: it’s clear that a moving company that’s shady can and will take a lot of extra measures to disguise its past and throw off potential customers who are trying to research them online. If you’re looking for a moving company, don’t just check your local BBB site. Look on MovingScam.com and RipOffReport, and check out their offices in person before agreeing to anything. You might also want to Google the company’s address and the name of the owner to see if anything comes up.

Thomas’ blog, with photos of the damage and a full story [TheCynicalUniverse] (thanks to Thomas!)

RELATED
Thomas’ complaint against Champions [RipOffReport]
Holly’s complaint against Champions [RipOffReport]
Black List entry for A.S.A.P. Relocations in San Jose [MovingScam.com]
Customer reviews of Champions [Yelp]
Customer reviews of A.S.A.P. Relocations [Yelp]
(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. TMurphy says:

    So, would the lady who made the first complaint have a police report for theft as her next option, or what else is out there for people whose belongings are hostage? Can she even argue theft?

  2. timmus says:

    This goes far, far, far beyond the Better Business Bureau. This is not a civil matter; this is organized crime. We are talking about issues for local/state law enforcement and the state attorney general, and if they’re not doing anything then someone needs to light a fire under them.

  3. amejr999 says:

    The BBB has literally no authority to do anything. File a complaint with the attorney general’s office in your state.

  4. BigNutty says:

    Exactly, the civil part left the minute they held her furniture and tried to extort her. She should have called the police the second they tried to extort her.

    If the police told her this is a civil case and only wrote up a report, I would have insisted that the cop get all the Id’s of the movers, The license plate number and hopefully a picture of everyone involved with her cell phone.

    The above is what I would do if it was her.

    If it was me, that truck was not going anywhere until the situation was resolved to my satisfaction.

  5. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    People who leave their move to the last possible day when switching apartments are out of luck. Please ask the manager of the new complex at lease signing if it is possible for you to move your things in a couple days early so that you are not prey to unscrupulous movers. They have seen everything and will probably sympathize with you. If they don’t, reconsider moving into that complex.

  6. ry81984 says:

    Why can’t you just stand in front of the truck until the police show up?

    I am against guns, but its people like this that justify carrying one with you.

  7. humphrmi says:

    All movers are scum. I hired one of the best rated in my area (Midwest). They damaged my gas dryer; no problem, I figure – it happens. All I wanted was fair compensation in a timely fashion. One of their damage control guys told me outright he was going to wait until the last day that they law requires him to respond to a complaint before he would respond to me. Then he messes up, goes over by a few days, I file a complaint, and the state gives them another ten days to resolve it. A month later, I got my cheap pro-rated, cheap-ass, aint-gonna-buy-you-a-replacement-dryer refund with no apology.

    They can all go to hell for all I care, the whole lot of the scumbags.

  8. outphase says:

    The following is basic contract law, but it is not legal advice.

    The second contract price ($2640) was without consideration, and the contract itself was unconscionable. A common course of action is to pay the price asked and sue later to recover the difference. In this case, it might have been hard as they are fly-by-night. There can also be an argument for duress which can also invalidate a subsequent contract.

    I would recommend anyone in this situation to seek legal counsel immediately. The longer you wait, the more likely they’ll vanish.

  9. XTC46 says:

    @humphrmi: Like any industry and any company you will run into assholes. My girlfriend just moved here from California and the service was great. The mover went above and beyond in helping to get stuff into our building (he had to block a block away because of traffic and was RUNNING with the pallet jack to get us are things. He was really friendly, and he even gave my girlfriend a few tips on where to look for job openings in her field. They messed up the quote to begin with (we suspected as much when it was about half every other competitor) and as we were trying to straighten it out they delivered everything, gave us a discount on the proper quote then an additional discount for the hassle.

  10. Crazytree says:

    @outphase:

    fail.

    it is common pattern and practice in this industry, as in many others, to have the company provide a “good faith estimate”, which is acknowledged to be just that… an estimate. [that being said, the doubling of the price was clearly not done in good faith… and the moving company breached the duty of good faith and fair dealing. what I would have done is said that the feejack was unconscionable and thus relieved me of my duty to perform IE pay them shit… then I would have called the cops and said they were holding my stuff hostage for $1,390.]

    the $2,640 WAS the consideration.

    this is why it is dangerous to take a business law class… it’s like taking a semester of biology and thinking you’re a doctor.

  11. darkclawsofchaos says:

    I know what I’m about to say is not really legal, but when moving, just rent a Uhaul and hire some illegal immigrants, like two or three depending on how much stuff you have and how many people can watch them. Offer to pay $150 per head, if they haggle for two $200, give it to them. This way they will be nice and you are the boss, and it should still be less than a thousand and you got the best service around. And you can make multiple trips, and they won’t mind. Just be ready to pay cash and WATCH YOUR STUFF. The only hard part is finding the workers, but if you know where to look, they will be happy to do so.

  12. outphase says:

    @Crazytree:

    I’m assuming there was already an existing contract for the previous price quote. The moving company had a pre-existing duty to perform the job. Any subsequent change in price must be made in good faith in order to be enforceable.

    I’m in law school not a single business law class. Correct me if I’m wrong about the analysis.

  13. FMulder says:

    I think moving is a time when you call upon all of those facebook friends you have, people who expect you to buy them birthday gifts, relatives who always say they love you, friends who ask if you want to ‘hang out’ and in general all those people who claim to care about you — and if they aren’t local, they should either make their way to you (wedding invite? moving invite! Send the same cool invitations and offer food, drink) or recommend someone reliable who claims to care about THEM and lives near you — at least some sort of help.

    Forget about 346 facebook friends, blog buddies, etc., it is times like these that make you divide up the real friends and the web 2.0 friends.

  14. chartrule says:

    the best way to move is just rent the truck and provide beer/pizza to the friends/family members that help you move

  15. thetango says:

    @chartrule:

    “the best way to move is just rent the truck and provide beer/pizza to the friends/family members that help you move”

    Some people can’t do that — they may be new to the area, may be making a long move, etc..

    I’m in Boston, MA and this is a very typical scam. Last year, however, I recall seeing a story on the news where the exact same stunt was pulled (charging extra to unload the items and threatening to drive away with everything if they owner didn’t pay) where a young woman pulled out her cell phone and called the Boston Police.

    An officer was sent out and he ordered the movers to unload everything — is there something different about MA that made this a criminal matter?

    FWIW, if anyone is looking for a mover in metro-Boston, I’ve always used Middlesex Movers in Watertown, MA. They’ve moved my wife & I twice — and we’ve never had a problem!

  16. bigvicproton says:

    I worked moving company complaints for the State of NY for 5 years. Yes there are people who just do this. Its all well and good to argue contract merit and duty, but the point is if they have your goods your screwed. If you dont have a copy of a signed contract showing the cost of everything ahead of time, then the cops will come and tell you to take them to small claims court, and usually let the movers take your stuff until small claims convenes. in the mean time you will be charged storage too. besides if you win, who will collect this judgement for you? i’ve seen entire loads dumped into a brooklyn warehouse street, stripped of anything good and the rest left to blow away. and no they dont care about your baby pictures… The BBB is useless by the way, they rarely do anything except collect complaints and go after the legit guys who are easy targets. Which is pretty much how the goverment works too…

  17. Scuba Steve says:

    Moving companies scare the hell out of me.

  18. Jean Naimard says:

    One last time: the BBB has nothing to do with consumer satisfaction; it is a business club and as such only answers to its members, not consumers. Thus it has absolutely no interest in customer satisfaction since if it would bitch and nag at its members, it would lose them real quick.

  19. Rae12401 says:

    I’ve heard lots of horror stories about movers and was admittedly very nervous when I moved from NY to MA. I hired Bekin movers. (I think the actuall movers were CONTRACTED to Bekin, but I could be wrong.) They were great! They made great time, they broke NOTHING, and they came in UNDER their estimate! If I ever have to move again, I wouldn’t even consider anyone else.

  20. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    Two comments.

    1. I’m always amazed at people who will hire some unknown mover off Craig’s List “man with a van” to save a little money. Hire a reputable well-known nationally branded moving company. Get references. Check them out online. Call the Better Business Bureau. You are trusting these people with your personal belongings.

    2. Read the contract carefully. A lot of people contract for 1000 pounds of moving and then get upset when the moving company wants to charge them more for that “piece of furniture I forgot about.” If you contracted for 500 pounds and show up with 1000 pounds, you’re going to have to pay more. Then don’t complain.

    Find a company that takes credit cards. The best ones do. Stopping a check when a company has your furniture seems stupid. Of course they’re not going to give you your stuff back.

  21. Ickypoopy says:

    @darkclawsofchaos:
    If you want to do that legally, you can just hire a couple of guys from your local “manpower” office (or another similar agency). My sister did that when she moved a few years back. Including payment to the office and tips to the two guys, they ended up paying about $300 for one days work by two guys.

  22. missdona says:

    In NY, use Flat Rate moving. They guarantee the price quoted (which is per item moved). You give them a list, they give you a price and that price will not change unless you change your list. You also get discounts if you’re moving on an ‘off’ day. I’ve had two successful moves with them and I would hire again in a heartbeat.

  23. AD8BC says:

    When I recently moved from MI to TX, the company I work for hired Graebel Van Lines. I couldn’t have asked for more professional and polite movers and drivers… and when they arrived at my new house and the local hired help didn’t seem like they would do a very good job at all, the driver fired them on the spot and proceeded to do all the unloading with the other driver until Graebel sent out three useful people. No damage to the furniture or the house at all. I was almost shocked!

  24. JustRunTheDamnBallBillick. says:

    I used the company my realtor suggested last time I moved. It was in his best interest to give me someone good, since I can bring him future business. Realtors and Apartment management companies often have deals in place for discounts with a preferred mover, who doesnt want to piss off those channels.

    That said, I dont care if they do it for free, I wont use Mayflower. F!#$ them

  25. bohemian says:

    Back in the 70’s my dad was responsible for moving executive employees during job transfers. This was back in the day when your employer would pay to get you moved if you were high enough up on the food chain.

    I remember one move the company hired the same major mover I think Allied or something. The truck driver got pissed and quit while moving the load across the country. He dumped the trailer at a rest stop and split. It took them about a week before the trailer was located. These poor people were freaking out, everything they had just was gone.

  26. jamesdenver says:

    @noasalira:

    I agree 100%. It’s good to have friends for that. But after moving several times through my 20s renting a truck and doing it myself (and with friends) my next move (hopefully there won’t be one) will be hired.

    If you have the money to hire people you should be able to do it without fear of your belongings being held hostage.

    also check out movingscam.com

  27. veronykah says:

    Can consumerist PLEASE mention MOVINGSCAM.COM the next time you have one of these articles.
    If people who moved actually checked this site, these incidents could be completely avoided.
    I moved cross country and from advice from people on the site as well as reviews, I had no problems.

    Check out one of the first results I got searching for Champion
    Movers…

    Here is a quote…”I had the displeasure of using this company too just this month. they were a nightmare…”

    this company needs to be blacklisted RIGHT AWAY!!! [www.movingscam.com]

    Quote from a search for ASAP Movers thread…
    “I just posting this information to all the pepole that getting a quotes from “champions movers”.
    my name is Ashely and i also recived a quote from “Champions Movers” and its look very attractive- however i find out that this company and “ASAP RELOCATIONS” is the same company, ASAP (blacklisted here-IN THE TOP 20).

    After researching these two i find similarities in the owner of the company:
    Maoz Kadesh from “champions movers” and mike kadesh from “a.s.a.p relocations ” is the same person!!
    They just change the name of the company!!!!!!!!so watch out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Also i want to send many thanks to MusicMom and Diane which saved me from this SCAM,

    Thanks again for the fast response,(i choose to go with Allied) Wink

    Ashley

    [www.movingscam.com]

  28. dantsea says:

    Oh, the San Jose problem. Yeah. These moving companies are owned by a family (actual blood relatives) of scammers who’ve had their fingers in many different pies.

    About eight years ago I was working on article about online theft. A particular name and address in San Jose kept popping up on Usenet “MAKE MONEY FA$T!!” posts. I started checking that address and names and found porn spam, more MMF fraud, connection to a “re-gifting” scheme. They got a little ambitious during the 90s and the short-lived “free” PC craze, even ending up with a blurb on news.com.

    Unfortunately the magazine went under about a month after I got the contract (thank you dotcom bust) so I never finished the article. I’m certain I have notesin storage, somewhere.

    But yeah. These moving companies are bad news. Unless it’s a national chain (and even then your odds are about 50/50) you’re probably going to get screwed.

    Regarding complaining to the Better Business Bureau: The BBB isn’t a government agency. They can’t do anything. They won’t do anything. Bad companies know they’re bad companies. They know the people who call them aren’t consulting the BBB — and as pointed out in this post, a company only has to change their name or phone number to give themselves a clean slate.

  29. docb says:

    I 100% agree with DARKCLAWSOFCHAOS.

    I had to learn the hard way never to use a mover again, after I did all the research, set up a move in date 3 weeks before I had to start work and negatiated a fair (not rock bottom, but not exorbitant price. My stuff was still late, broken, and stolen.

    I have used the following illegal method twice now and recommended it twice and each time it works perfectly.

    Step:1 – If it’s important to you pack it up yourself. Put all valuable items in unmarked boxes and make sure they’re well padded.

    Step 2 – Go to http://www.pods.com and have them drop of an appropriately sized pod container at your house/apt. Pods or one of the competing podlike companies (look these up) will drop off the pod, pick it up, store it for as long as you like, and drop it off on the day you want. GUARANTEED.

    Step 3- Hire some illegal immigrants to move the furniture and boxes into the pod. Get about 3 and give em $100 -$200 bucks each. Be sure you supervise, but mostly sit back and be astonished how fast and diligently it gets done.

    Step 4- Have pods pick it up and drop it off at the new place on a specific date.

    Step 5 – Hire some illegals at the new place to do step 3 in reverse. There are illegals everywhere, if you can’t find them you must have your head in the sand. They work hard and quickly.

    Step 5- unpack the stuff yourself, you lazy bastard.

    See. No one but you ever sees which boxes are valuable. The pod can only be opened by you, because you padlock it, and there are multiple insurance options. Not to mention you save a bundle vs the premium prices of really good movers, it winds up being about the same as a modestly priced move $2500-$3000 cross country with a delay). It is not as cheap as the liar $1000 cross country quotes you get from the scam artists, but it aint a scam.

    you’re welcome

  30. jamesdenver says:

    Is it illegal if you don’t know their status? If i’m hiring day laborers I want to know they can do the job in the time alloted and we exchange a fair rate.

  31. dantsea says:

    @jamesdenver: Yes.

    However, you’d probably have a greater chance of being caught and prosecuted for stealing two packets of ketchup from a McDonald’s.

  32. DallasDMD says:

    Maybe instead of hiring illegal labor, pay some local kids to help you move? You’ll feel better for supporting LEGAL citizens of your community and not be breaking the law.

    You better bet if I saw something suspicious going on immigration wise, I’d report it in a heartbeat.

  33. jamesdenver says:

    Easy there minuteman. Kids can’t lift pianos and they might start tossing around my faberge eggs. Anyway in a few years the anchor babies will be grown up and we can hire them, so problem solved.

    The premise is wise: Rent some trucks (or the POD) and hire locally YOURSELF: Craigslist is a great way to do this too.

    Of course cross-country moving is much more complicated, but again I’d prefer to pay friend, neighbors, or temp labor than I would a moving company.

  34. hills says:

    just a reminder to pay extra $ for the full replacement value of your items – the standard coverage is just a few cents on the pound….

  35. Trai_Dep says:

    Wanna bet the same people hiring undocumented workers are the same jackasses getting their panties in a bunch about illegal aliens? And, also wanna bet that if one of their workers gets hurt doing the job, they’ll just put their hands on their hips, laugh then call INS if they complain? Then sluff off their medical bills on us instead of paying a (small) worker’s comp fee beforehand?

    You can hire legal labor, it just involves paying the normal rate – you know, one that you’d want to get paid if you had the skills – and paying a pittance so if they’re hurt while working their needs are taken care of. If you’re not a hypocritical, cheap bast*rd.

  36. docb says:

    I’m sorry for the whole illegal discussion. I was wrong.

    Hire only legal day laborers (put an ad in the paper or craigslist). Then pay them the same rate. The point was, avoid paying the crook movers.

    It’s a smarter way to move.

  37. Mr. Cynical says:

    I think it’s funny that when you read the company rebuttals they say things like “we go out of our way to make customers happy” or “we are an experienced company with many satisfied customers”. This is their typical rebuttal on yelp or on rip-off-report.

    If they are so concerned with customer service and making people happy why did they ignore me completely every time I asked to a supervisor, manager or owner?

    Why did they mock me with dinner passes to a restaurant when I told them how much of my stuff was damaged?

    Why haven’t they tried to work something out with my partner in misery when she asked for her furniture back?

    Champions (and ASAP) are full of nothing but excuses. You present to them documents, facts, pictures… straight evidence and they feed you fictional stories about this and that. The fact that no owner or manager has contacted me either during, soon after, or recently, is indicative of how full of crap these people are.

    I am ridiculously thankful to Consumerist for posting this story on my and other consumers’ behalf.

    - Thomas N.
    Cynical Universe

  38. Trai_Dep says:

    Wanna bet the same people urging using undocumented workers are the same blowhards whose panties are in a bunch about illegal aliens stealing jobs from Real Americans?

    And if these guys get injured on THEIR job, what will they do? Besides push their medical costs on their neighbors. Nice!

    Funny, that.

  39. Trai_Dep says:

    Whoops. Delayed posting. My bad.

  40. GinaLouise says:

    @jamesdenver: Larger cities often have day-laborer centers where you can call up and hire a few guys to work. San Francisco has such a place: [www.lrcl.org] . The rates are very reasonable (about 15 bucks an hour, 3 hours minimum)and you can always talk to the center if something goes horribly wrong. I’ve never heard of anyone getting in trouble for this; some cities even officially sanction such centers.

  41. jamesdenver says:

    Gina that’s a great idea. -Again I like the whole premise too. Hiring and paying people (or an agency) yourself for labor and/or transport is an excellent middle ground between doing all the heavy lifing yourself, or the opposite of turning it (your stuff) over to a big company.

  42. Bunklung says:

    Friends are the most reliable and cheapest way to help move. If you don’t have any friends then that might be an indication of a personal problem.

  43. ironchef says:

    Contact the Department of Weights and Measures at your state. They have the best legal tools to nail them on a wrongful quote by a mover.

    A fraudulent quote=jail time.

  44. ironchef says:

    Here’s the link

    [consumerist.com]

  45. jamesdenver says:

    @Bunklung:

    Bunklung some families actually have 5-6 bedroom houses with dens and attics full of stuff – which is a lot more to move than a 1 bedroom apartment.

    Or maybe they have the money for movers and just don’t want to ask their friends. I’ve been moved by friends and have helped plenty move through my 20s. But now I have a three bedroom townhouse and although clutter free there’s plenty of furniture. I have no plans of imposing on my friends to navigate sofas down stairwells in exchange for a greasy pizza.

  46. I’m a big proponent of calling in favors come moving day. There’s always somebody who needs a few bucks and isn’t adverse to a little work.

    Step 1. Convince boyfriend he really needs that huge Dodge Ram.

    Step 2. ???

    Step 3. Profit

  47. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @Bunklung: I am an adult, and my friends have jobs, families, and other responsibilities. If yours don’t, that might be indicative of a personal problem.

  48. guymandude says:

    “and threatened damage to her belongings if she didn’t pay up and sign a new contract on the spot.”

    This is funny. I would have explained to him that unless he wanted to be damaged right then and there that maybe he ought to reconsider his position. LOL!

  49. billy says:

    @Crazytree: The initial contract had consideration (we move your stuff for $1,070) if they did, in fact, contract for that amount.

    Any changes to that initial contract, especially in price, would require additional consideration.