Oahu moving company racks up customer complaints over alleged deceptive practices

Some customers say their items were never shipped, but rather held and put up for auction
Published: Nov. 21, 2021 at 6:07 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When former Kahala resident Deborah Kim-Ito and her partner moved to Missouri last summer, she hired JF Moving Services to transport her belongings there, paying $11,000.

But after months of delays, her property has still not been delivered.

“We were told several times by (owner) Johnny Franklin that our stuff had shipped to Oakland ... but he actually told us ‘I’m sorry I lied, only half of your things shipped to Oakland,’” she said.

Just this week, she found much of her stuff was actually dumped in a storage facility in Kaimuki -- ready to be sold off for nonpayment of storage fees.

“Oh my god, I just saw my stuff go up for auction,” she said.

The Better Business Bureau of Hawaii said it has received a number of complaints against JF Moving Services in recent weeks and that the company’s accreditation with the BBB is under review.

Roseann Freitas, spokeswoman for the BBB, said the U.S. Department of Transportation, which regulates interstate movers, has also received complaints for deceptive business practices and holding customer’s belongings hostage.

“Once you start to have those red flags and start see suspicious activity with the mover -- if you haven’t engaged them yet -- you want to stop, you do not want to do anything with that moving company,” said Freitas.

Kim-Ito said she has filed a theft complaint with Honolulu Police over the disappearance of her belongings -- all valued at over $65,000.

She said personal items such as her mother’s urn still can’t be located.

“The grief he has caused so many people is just amazing,” she said.

Andrew West said he paid Franklin’s company $20,000 when he relocated from Hawaii to Florida in July.

He said the movers also didn’t deliver his goods -- keeping much of it in other storage facilities around town. He also plans to file a complaint with police.

“As soon as I saw my son’s tricycle and car I knew it was ours. And then when I saw how much there was -- that’s got to be all of our stuff, at least half of it,” he said.

Franklin said most of the customers’ goods are still sitting in a shipping container in Oakland, Calif. and will eventually make its way to Florida.

He blamed the mix-up on the pandemic, which increased costs such as truck rentals by ten-fold, creating cash-flow problems for his company. It also caused shipping logjams for his customers, forcing him to store their property, he said.

“I’m trying to work with them. I’m not going anywhere,” he said.

Franklin’s customers have also have reached out the the storage company for help. Instead, they said they were asked to pay for the back rent for their belongings.

Kim-Ito said she and her partner had to pay $1,300 just to get her stuff back. West said he had to pay $2,600.

Franklin said once all of their personal items are all found, he plans to reimburse his customers for the storage fees.

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