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1512 Interstate 35W, Suite 104, the address listed for Sirius Van Lines, is shown on Tuesday evening.

Leslie McAskill of California packed up her possessions for a cross-country move this summer, but the Denton-based company that picked up her belongings didn’t deliver her things when they said they would.

During a summer that one interstate moving industry worker called the busiest in his experience, many moving companies were unable to fulfill orders due to a shortage of workers and trucks. Sirius Van Lines, a moving company with a Denton warehouse, took on much of the bookings from Alliance Van Lines, which seeks moving contracts for customers. Now, Sirius has yet to fulfill several of its deliveries, leading to multiple complaints and police reports in more than one state.

Its federal license to offer interstate moving services was revoked in July, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. A couple of people reported possible theft and fraud to the Denton Police Department, but investigators closed at least one case believing that Sirius is just a failing company and that there wasn’t intent to commit theft.

McAskill, 67, went all summer without her belongings after making the move to Kentucky from California to live with her daughter, Rachel. Rachel McAskill said the first available delivery date for her mom’s things was July 12 and the latest date 30 business days after. The 30th day passed, and she still didn’t have her things.

“We just want some kind of answer,” she said in September. “If [they] could just tell us, ‘Given COVID, we have less drivers,’ fine. That would give me a little bit of peace. But as of now, no answers, it makes you wonder if they even have your stuff or if they’re going to deliver it. We’re not asking for much. Just information.”

The McAskills didn’t respond Tuesday for an update on their situation.

Leslie McAskill had been preparing since January for the big move, and she was excited. Rachel McAskill said her mother paid a deposit of $1,389 and then added another $500 to that deposit because she added more stuff to the move. Upon pickup, she said she paid Sirius $1,500, with the remaining balance due upon delivery of the items.

“She started packing four months before the move [and got rid of] the stuff she knew she wasn’t going to need,” Rachel McAskill said. “We’ve been planning this for four years now. She retired, and she wanted to move in to spend time with her only grandson. What was supposed to be a joyous moment has kind of turned into … I don’t know how to say it. For the worst, for her.”

Her mom initially contacted moving company Alliance Van Lines about relocating, got a quote, paid a deposit and was given a pickup date. What she didn’t know is Alliance Van Lines books moves for people but does not actually make the pickups.

“To be a booking agent [with us], they have to have a license,” John Edwards of Alliance Van Lines said. “All of our carriers are licensed and insured. We have 409 [hauling] agreements with everybody. We can’t just dispatch out to anybody.”

Edwards said Alliance checks once a year with the agents they book with to see if their licenses are valid. Edwards said he has several customers who are having service issues with Sirius Van Lines and that Alliance isn’t getting orders from them anymore.

He said summertime is the busiest season for long-distance moving because kids are out of school. This summer was different because there were fewer moving trucks, movers and moving companies because some of those businesses fell through the cracks.

“I’ve been working with [Sirius] for multiple years and never had issues like this,” Edwards said. “Their customer service got overwhelming, and they disappeared on everyone. … I think that what happened this summer is they took on too much work that they could handle.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revoked the company’s license for “refusal of audit/No Contact interstate commerce.” This license is required for businesses that offer interstate moving services.

According to the FMCSA, the company has received 44 complaints this year. Thirty-six were relating to pickup and delivery, 24 were about deceptive business practices, and 21 were about estimates/final charges and hostage. The FMCSA on its website says a complaint can fall into more than one category.

The Denton Record-Chronicle called two phone numbers listed online for Sirius Van Lines but had not received a call back by Tuesday evening. Edwards said Sirius’ owner, Alon Sabin, now operates under a different name called Van Lines Express Brand LLC. Sabin didn’t return a call for comment.

Van Lines Express Brand, based in Hickory Creek, is currently licensed by the U.S. Department of Transportation but isn’t authorized to operate. The Record-Chronicle called the phone number listed for Van Lines Express Brand on the Department of Transportation’s database, but had not received a call back by Tuesday evening.

Several Sirius Van Lines customers have alleged the company hasn’t followed through on their deliveries following cross-country moves via police reports, complaints to a federal motor carrier agency, complaints to the Better Business Bureau and allegations that customer service staff haven’t responded or helped.

Amy Cunningham, a spokesperson for the Denton Police Department, said one report was deactivated because it was out of their jurisdiction. Another caller on Aug. 10 said she paid the company $630 to move her items from Dallas to California, paid an additional $685 upon pickup and hadn’t received her belongings.

Cunningham said that case was then closed after the caller went to the Denton warehouse and was able to load up her belongings.

“It’s believed it’s a failing business situation with no intent to commit theft,” Cunningham said.

Another report from Aug. 2 alleged a person’s belongings were picked up and they haven’t been able to get in touch with anyone to schedule a delivery.

The Better Business Bureau opened an investigation into Sirius Van Lines in July after getting complaints with the same pattern as the McAskills.

The complainants alleged the company received payments to move people’s belongings across state lines but didn’t follow through. Attempts from customers to reach them to get their belongings were met with “arbitrary and unfulfilled deadlines for delivery,” and sometimes they weren’t able to reach customer service.

Rachel McAskill said she and her mother have called multiple times but never get a call back. By the end of September, her mother had gone three months without 67 years’ worth of tangible memories.

“It’s sad and almost like hopeless feelings at times,” Rachel McAskill said. “I know it’s not my stuff, but I’m having to see my family member suffer with the unknown of where this is going to end up, how this is going to end up.”

The BBB sent the company correspondence to address the complaints, but Sirius Van Lines hasn’t responded to any communication.

When she was able to speak to someone, Rachel McAskill said she found out her mother’s things are at the Denton warehouse.

“I want to fly out there and go to the warehouse and get a U-Haul and hire some movers and drive it here,” she said. “I don’t know if that would work out as beautiful as that sounds. … I’d do anything to get her stuff back.”

Edwards said one of his customer’s sons called recently to report some good news. The son was in Rachel’s position of helping a parent get their things back.

“His mother’s shipment recently got delivered,” Edwards said. “As upset as people are, I think everybody’s shipments are still safe. It’s just Sirius is having a serious issue getting shipments out because delivery costs grew astronomically in the summertime and there are a lot of companies that didn’t make the proper adjustments.”

ZAIRA PEREZ can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @zairalperez.

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