Crooked Car Transporter Takes Granny's Honda Hostage

Here's how she beat the racket.

"They screw you with your car?" he asked. (I hadn't said anything about cars.) With sympathy and a smile, the mailman explained that A Blue Knight merely got its mail at a P.O. box in the strip mall's UPS store.

The mailman knew that, he said, because people were always coming around looking for the person who had screwed them out of their vehicles. He said apologetically that he didn't know the company's real address.

Court records listed another location: 22 Bayville Avenue, in Bayville, a few towns farther east on the North Shore. But the building at that address looked as if it had recently burned down. I went to a pizzeria next door, and the guy behind the counter laughed when I asked him about A Blue Knight. "Is that the name they're going by now?" he said. "They change their fuckin' name every year."

When I told him the outfit might also be known as A Eastern Connection, he snapped his fingers and said, "That's the one! They're located downtown—just across the street from the fire department." (It turned out that court records list the address as 22 Bayville Avenue, but the actual address is 255 Bayville Avenue.)

"I can't believe they're still in business!" the pizza guy said as I was leaving, adding, "Good luck! He has a magnetic lock on the door so nobody can get in!"

The building housing A Blue Knight mostly just looked like an insurance agent's office. There was no auto yard in sight. The company's name was now "Transportation Specialists."

I tried to open the glass front door, but, true to the pizza guy's word, it was sealed for the owner's protection. People working inside were clearly visible, and eventually, a man I recognized from the Fox 5 consumer-help episodes as Sclafani came to the door.

"Greg's not here," Greg said.

"What about John?"

"No, he's not here, either."

"Who are you?"

"I'm . . . Pete."

"Pete" said he couldn't give me any information or even the name of "Greg's attorney," and slammed the door shut.

I snapped photos of the front of the business. Three employees inside covered their faces and then pulled down the window shades.

Eventually, "Pete" poked his head out again and screamed, "Get off my property! Get the hell off my property!"

"Your property?" I replied. "So you are Greg Sclafani, then?"

"I'll call the cops. I've already called the cops!" he shouted, slamming the door a second time, disappearing behind the drawn shades.

In truth, Florence Katz was more afraid of not getting her car back than of dying. Now she's more than happy to talk about how well everything has turned out. However, she couldn't do it the Monday after her car was returned: "I have to go to the gym," she told me. "I haven't been for ages!" When we finally talked in person a few days later, she said, "I'm not in the shape I used to be in. I used to work out five times a week."

But she's got her car, her meds, and her walker back. And her apartment seems to be back to normal. It looks spiffier now with her little white Mac laptop returned to its rightful place amid the '40s décor.

sthrasher@villagevoice.com

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1 comments
Carmover
Carmover

I know this story is 3 years old but I HAD to comment as the Sclafani's are still conning people out of money, they just moved their operations base somewhere else. As someone who has been on the actual trucking end of the auto transport industry for 20+ years and dealt with Greg & Marguite for years, I know how they work. As consumers we all want to price shop and look for the best deal. When it comes to shipping your car though, a broker doesn't have as much of a vested interest in transporting your car. The goal of many brokers is to get your deposit (also called a "booking fee") because once you see the fine print, most will see that money is not refundable and dates are not guaranteed.


Brokers can offer very cheap prices for the following reasons:

They do not have to pay: truck payments, fuel, heavy road use taxes, maintenance, Quarterly fuel taxes, KYU, drivers, DOT, overweight citations, and on and on.


How does a Broker work?:

Many can work right out of their living room and just pay for an 800 # and a Bond in case they don't pay the trucking company. You might make the mistake of filling out a form online as it looks like a quote request form for a trucking company. Instead, you all of a sudden are bombarded by between 10 & 25 hard core sales people all begging for your business and they will not leave you alone. They will offer a very low price to entice you. IF you book with the low priced broker, he/she may ask for a deposit. Either way, they list your car on an internet load board for less than quoted to you and either the car ends up sitting and the broker won't return your calls, or they call you and tell you they need to charge you more because no one wants to move the car or worse yet, they contract your car to a carrier for a larger price and you are in shock when the truck arrives and they don't want to give you the car unless you pay $200 more than your agreement. The sad part is that the truck driver is stuck in the middle. You can yell & scream & toss your contract in his/her face but if you don't pay what he says you owe, the driver eats it. He either owns his truck and has lost revenue or if it is a company driver, his dispatcher will deduct it from his pay and it isn't their fault you were lied to.


CONSUMERS: Arm Yourself With Information!!!  Research any company before you give them any personal or payment information. Do not just trust transport reviews website as many brokers are listed as carriers, they pay to be a "supporter" of the website to get preferential treatment and if you pay attention, some even compensate "clients" for their reviews!  Start with a review site to narrow down your choices, then use a search engine and look up the name of the company along with the word "complaints" and see what comes up. Many companies use similar names so if you have the city of location, use that in your search.


If I didn't "ramble on" so much, I could write a book of broker nightmare stories and how to book a transport with little stress. Automobiles can be quite an investment these days. Is transporting really where you want to bargain shop?


 
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