MANDEVILLE, La. -- Last month Eyewitness News told you about a moving company operating on both side of the lake that became the target of a police investigation, but Eyewitness News has learned there are other companies with similar allegations against them that are operated by family members of the owner of Mr. Move.
After an Eyewitness News series on the Metairie-based moving company Mr. Move and the arrest of its owner, Dunwoodie McDuffie III, along with two employees, for extortion tied to the business' practices, several viewers contacted us about their similar experiences with Mr. Move, as well as similar experiences with other companies.
One of those viewers is Jason Nuss.
“We dealt with a certain price, still wasn't what the end price was, which was $1,400, almost $1,500,” Nuss said. “When we got here, they decided they would not give us our furniture until we paid in full."
Nuss and his family say their experience almost a year ago was with S&S Moving, based out of Mandeville, when they moved from Hammond to Metairie. His allegations are similar to the claim this Mandeville woman made about Mr. Move, which led to the arrests.
"I went to pay them the hourly rate. They gave me this bogus, out there number of over $2,000 when it was supposed to be $750,” Megan Bagley said. “We were kind of caught off guard and that's when they locked up the truck and said you either pay this amount or you're not going to see your stuff anymore."
So we looked into S&S Moving and found Debrynnt McDuffie, a relative of Dunwoodie McDuffie III, is the owner. The Louisiana Attorney General's Office has had 27 complaints against the business since 1999, and the Better Business Bureau has had 54 complaints in the last three years, with 10 complaints unresolved.
The Louisiana Public Service Commission lists four cases over the past 10 years involving Debrynnt McDuffie, where his businesses, S&S Moving/St. Tammany Movers based in New Orleans, S&S Moving Services out of Metairie, S&S Moving in Gretna and Starving Student Movers, operating out of Mandeville, were issued fines for violations.
The violations include operating intrastate without LPSC authority and an admitted violation of exceeding published rates on file with the commission.
We came here to the address for S&S Moving to talk to the owner, Debrynnt McDuffie. We were told he wasn't here, and given a phone number for him. In our one call with Debrynnt McDuffie, he told us he didn't think we understood the nature of the moving business. His attorney later called to say Debrynnt McDuffie would not have a comment for this story.
But a man who says he worked for Debrynnt McDuffie in the 80s says he isn't surprised to see our findings.
"There was always situations where when we picked stuff up to put in our storage facility, the labor would instantly double, they wouldn't tell the customer this, and I think their philosophy was, OK, we've got their stuff, we're going to hold it for three months. They’ve got three months to come up with all this money and they'll pay us. And most people, honestly, 99 percent of the people paid. They had no choice."
Darren Gundry, who lives out of state now, says he was an employee of McDuffie's Moving Service. The Louisiana Secretary of State's website lists Debrynnt McDuffie as the registered agent of the business, with other relatives as officers, starting in 1981.
Gundry says he also isn't surprised the family business has grown.
"The apple does not fall far from the tree. Some things never change."
But the people who have dealt with these businesses recently hope something does change, and soon.
If you have a complaint about any moving business, you can file it with the Better Business Bureau, the Louisiana Attorney General's Office and the Louisiana Public Service Commission for your area.