Parents’ ashes, personal belongings sold at auction after movers fail to deliver man’s things

Dan Zimmerman says losing everything he ever owned has left him devastated.
Dan Zimmerman says losing everything he ever owned has left him devastated.(WECT)
Published: Apr. 1, 2022 at 6:59 AM CDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT/Gray News) – A man who had been living in Oregon for 25 years decided to move across the country to be closer to family during the pandemic.

Dan Zimmerman landed a physician’s assistant position in Wilmington, packed up everything he owned and started looking for a company to help him with his move in October.

Dismayed by the initial estimates he received, Zimmerman started selling everything he could, deciding only to keep sentimental and high-value items with which he couldn’t part.

By that point, he only had a week before he was supposed to be in Wilmington to start his new job.

He ended up choosing what he thought was Mayflower Transit, one of the most trusted names in the business. Eventually, he learned that was not the case, and he had actually hired another company with a copycat name – Mayflower Relocation Services.

“They scheduled it, I paid them $1,300 with instructions that I’d pay them three payments: $1,300 at the signing of the contract, $1,300 when they come up and pick up my stuff, and another $1,300 when they finally delivered my belongings,” Zimmerman told WECT.

Zimmerman arranged for the company to store his belongings at a storage facility in North Carolina while he tried to find a house.

By December, Zimmerman had purchased a home and called the moving company to schedule delivery, but that’s when he says the excuses started.

First, he was told the mover was having trouble with his truck. Then, the mover had come down with COVID-19 and would be out for two weeks.

Zimmerman said the company stopped talking to him altogether and wouldn’t answer his calls.

Eventually, he received a text saying his things were in a storage unit in Charlotte, but they wouldn’t disclose the address.

Upon further research, he learned Mayflower Relocation Services was not a full-service moving company, but a broker that has an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau.

They have more than a dozen complaints against them on file, including some from consumers like Zimmerman who said they never received their belongings.

After countless phone calls, Zimmerman learned his move was contracted out to Efficient Moving and Storage, who informed him his things had been in a storage unit in Idaho but were sold in an auction.

“I called and sure enough, somebody had told them that I would be calling them looking for my belongings. And she said, ‘I’m so sorry, but your belongings have been auctioned.’ And sent me pictures. And it just ended my life. I mean, literally, it was unreal,” Zimmerman said of realizing everything he owned had been sold to a stranger without his knowledge.

Not only did his belongings include expensive sporting equipment, antique clocks his father made and a guitar worth over $30,000, but also his deceased parents’ ashes, jewelry and all his family photo albums.

With the help of a warrant obtained by the Eugene, Oregon, Police Department, authorities were able to make contact with the people who’d purchased Zimmerman’s belongings on in mid-February for just under $5,000.

Central Self Storage in Idaho put the contents of the unit up for sale when the person who’d rented it failed to pay the storage bill.

The buyers had already thrown away many of Zimmerman’s pictures and personal effects by the time authorities contacted them.

They offered to mail Zimmerman the remaining photo albums they found, but they had not found his parents’ ashes.

The new owners declined to return any other valuables, saying they were trying to recover the money spent purchasing the contents of the storage unit.

Zimmerman said he remains devastated over the loss and disappointed that there is not a better system in place to police unscrupulous movers.

“I thought I was safe. I already had all my belongings packed. … All they had to do is come pick it up and then deliver it. I never ever, ever perceived that I would lose my entire family history, gone, everything,” Zimmerman said.

In addition to the complaints on file against Mayflower Relocation Services with the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration lists dozens of complaints filed against the company.

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