Two addition “Mr. Move” employees have been booked in the extortion case.
WGNO News Reporter Darian Trotter has exclusive audio recordings from an alleged victim who has come forward.
“Everyone was very sweet until everything was on the truck; and all of a sudden their entire demeanor changed,” customer Tommy Zanca said.
“Screaming, yelling, you know, cursing,” customer Megan Bagley said.
“It was the worst absolutely, the absolute worst experience,” customer Kiera Jones added.
They’re the tip of the iceberg of unhappy customers who hired “Mr. Move,” they say because of the company’s competitively low quotes.
But once their property was loaded onto trucks, they say the company demanded more.
“When it was time to unload, they told me although we agreed on $900 for the move it was going to be $1900,” Zanca recounted.
Tommy Zanca kept records of his move from January of 2012.
“They refused to open the truck and unload anything until I gave them cash,” he said.
Kiera Jones’ $500 dollar move was bumped up to $15-hundred.
“He tells me in his exact words, and I quote are, “Because that’s what I tell you, you have to pay,” Jones said.
She says she tried without success to reason with “Mr. Move” owner Dunwoodie McDuffie.
“Basically I let him know I think they’re trying to scam me out of some money and his response was I’m going to scam you out of some more money the longer you go on with this stupid and then he used a couple of expletives,” Jones said.
She was so frustrated about how she was being treated, she recorded a phone conversation she says she had with McDuffie.
“There’s only one thing here that resolves the problem, know what that is, cash resolves the problem,” was heard the audio recording. “Hell no I’m not professional.” “I’ll be professional when I get my money.”
It was Megan Bagley’s complaint three weeks ago that launched an investigation.
The Louisiana Public Service Commission regulates small moving companies like “Mr. Move.”
In a statement, Commissioner Eric Skrmetta said, “The LPSC identified possible violations of commission rules, as well as possible criminal law issues.”
That’s when Mandeville Police stepped in and eventually charged McDuffie with extortion.
“You cannot hold somebody’s personal property hostage and that’s basically what they’re doing,” Mandeville Police Lieutenant Gerald Sticker said.
Wednesday the investigation led to the arrests of lead driver William Jeffrey Jr., and sales manager Amanda Brown Neil.
Both were charged with extortion.
Amanda Brown Neil is a woman for whom Bagley has no sympathy.
“Couldn’t hardly even understand what she was saying on the phone because all she would do was scream and holler,” Bagley recounts.
We checked with the Better Business Bureau and found “Mr. Move” has received
54-complaints within the past three years alone; and the company has an “F” rating.
“Which is the lowest rating a business can get,” Vice President of Operations Cynthia Albert said.
WGNO News has learned complaints about McDuffie’s business practices date back decades with the BBB.
Perhaps that’s why the criminal charges the “Mr. Move” trio now faces are not completely unexpected.
Trotter asked, “Doesn’t surprise you? Not really,” Albert replied.
Complainants we talked to seem especially pleased about Amanda Brown Neil’s arrest.
They say she was the first point of contact who bamboozled them.
“She’s getting exactly what she deserves,” Bagley said.
The investigation into “Mr. Move” continues as more complainants come forward.
Meanwhile, the Better Business Bureau is encouraging consumers to check their website before committing to a costly business venture.