'Rogue Movers': KTVA investigation turns up more complaints
A KTVA investigation into a local moving company has turned up more complaints and a paper trail leading back to the 1980s.
Last Tuesday, Anthony Marcano looked at all of his household belongings packed away neatly in seven wooden crates.
"This is comforting," he said, patting one of the crates in AAA Moving and Storage, Allied Alaska's Anchorage warehouse.
The shipment, ready to head to Texas, signifies what he hopes is the end of a months-long nightmare.
"Stay away from Ability Moving and Storage," he warned, looking directly into KTVA's camera, "Don't go there."
Marcano says he paid almost $15,000 for Ability to move him and his family from Alaska to San Antonio, Texas, in June of 2017. He says he also paid monthly storage fees for Ability to store his shipment until he found a home in Texas.
Then, in December, he realized there was a problem.
"When we called to ask our stuff be shipped in December-- when we closed on our house-- we couldn't get anybody to ship our stuff," Marcano explained.
That's when he says the excuses started.
"Be patient. First of all, started out with a few phone calls, 'We need shipping crates, soon, any day now, we're waiting for a van,'" Marcano said.
Then, in an email dated January 18, an Ability Moving and Storage employee wrote:
"I am just touching base with you regarding your shipment. At this time we are still experiencing financial difficulties and don’t have a definite date as to when we will be able to ship your household belonging. We hope it will be within the next few weeks. Please be patient, we are working on a plan to move your shipment."
"Well that got my attention in a heart-rate because I want my stuff," said Marcano.
On February 4, Marcano arrived in Alaska to sort things out himself. That's when he saw how Ability was storing his shipment.
"I look at my boxes and just, everything looks like it was thrown in there-- my piano, one of the legs was crushed," said Marcano.
It was clear to him then the shipment wasn't going anywhere, so he hired AAA Moving & Storage Allied Alaska to get the job done.
"When stuff like this happens, it just puts a black mark on the rest of the moving companies in town," said Mia Keil, a move coordinator with AAA Moving.
She even has a name for it, she said: "Rogue Movers."
Marcano now joins others who have paid twice for a move after contracting with Ability.
"She's gonna get away with it, I think," said Marcano, referring to a woman named Geneva Dupuy.
According to the State of Alaska's business license database, Geneva Dupuy owns 49 percent of Ability Moving and Storage, LLC.
"From what I understand, this is not her first rodeo," said Marcano.
According to a public 2002 divorce document, Geneva Dupuy used to be Geneva Hulsey.
State business records show, before her name change, Geneva Hulsey started C-Xpress Corporation in 1988 and owned 100 percent of the corporation.
State business records also show C-Xpress Corp. owned C-Xpress Moving and Storage, a moving company which became a frequent flier in civil and small claims court in the 1990s.
In one 1997 lawsuit, including both C-Xpress Corporation and Geneva Hulsey as defendants, a couple claimed they were told the total cost of their move from Alabama to Alaska would be $2,959, but Geneva Hulsey later said she wouldn't release their shipment to them unless they paid more, raising the total amount to $4,729, "because they had to make a profit" on the move.
In 1999, a judge ruled against Geneva Hulsey in a 1996 lawsuit filed by a former a former C-Xpress employee, awarding her $30,000 after she claimed she didn't receive proper overtime compensation.
And in 1997, C-Xpress Corporation filed for bankruptcy.
It's a sordid history Keil knows all too well.
"Yeah, [C-Xpress] moved my stuff to California," she said, when asked if she knew about Geneva Dupuy's history in the moving industry.
When asked how the move went, Keil replied, "Not well. Not well. That's why I help."
A victim herself once, Keil says she empathizes with people who find themselves in situations like the Sandor family's.
KTVA profiled Pete and Lori Sandor in its first investigation into Ability. After more than six months of waiting and spending more than $23,000 on their move from New York to Wasilla, the Sandor family is still waiting for their belongings to be delivered to them.
When KTVA first started looking into the Sandor's shipment, Daniella Rivera spoke with a woman representing Ability over the phone who refused to identify herself. After the call, the Sandors, who've had face-to-face meetings with Geneva Dupuy, said they recognized her voice.
"That's Geneva," said Lori.
Three separate sources, including two former Ability employees, said Geneva Dupuy often pretends to be another employee of the business, rather than herself, a partial owner.
"Let's just say I'm representing the company," the woman said.
When asked if KTVA was speaking to Geneva Dupuy, the woman said, "No, it isn't."
The phone number the woman was calling on is the same phone number Geneva Dupuy listed as her own in an email to the state in 2017 requesting a mailing address change for Ability.
KTVA's Daniella Rivera received several text messages from the number before it aired the first report on Ability. Some of the texts read, in part:
- "...please let us know if there is anyway of not running the story..."
- "Please reconsider running and given opportunity to make customer whole ."
- "You have the ability to hold off and let us prevail with our responsibility ."
- "Running the story will prevent us from being able to get Sandor shipments and others out to them, that is a decision you have to make...a little more time would be appreciated to make them whole."
- "A story like this is not beneficial to anyone's favor. We never had intentions of this happening to anyone. We will make this right. Please work with us."
Several attempts to reach Ability for comment since KTVA's initial report aired have not been returned.
Marcano wants Ability to be held accountable and make things right with customers, but says that regardless of whether that ever happens, he's thankful Ability doesn't have his things anymore.
"I can still make money, but you can't replace memories," said Marcano.
In a previous story, KTVA reported finding a locked door while visiting the company's Anchorage office-- on two separate occasions; the door boasted a Better Business Bureau accreditation.
But, according to the BBB, the company's accreditation was revoked in December because Ability was "not meeting standards" and had a pattern of complaints. Nine complaints have been filed against the company, two of which remain unresolved. The complaints deal with failure to render services, failure to pay their subcontractors and leaving customers "high and dry." The BBB rating now sits at a C+ while the company is going through an appeal process.
And the BBB isn't the only agency taking a look at Ability.
KTVA also obtained a letter from DOT to Ability, giving the company notice of a compliance review, and asking for a laundry list of company records to be made available. KTVA is waiting to learn the outcome of what the letter calls an "investigation."
Rich Childers, a moving industry expert with Allison's Relocations, said Monday that Ability has been stripped of its interstate moving authority. In a live interview with KTVA, he shares tips on how to avoid 'Rogue Movers':