MANATEE -- From Philadelphia to Houston, customers of a moving company operated by a controversial pastor are upset.
Antique dealers from across the country are sharing their stories of not being able to get answers from the Rev. Terry Jones on whether they will ever get their possessions back.
Adam Hoover of Main Street Modern in Canton, Ohio, estimates he has about $4,500 worth of merchandise held by Jones' company and cannot get any answers.
"I tried to contact them for over a week through email and phone and couldn't reach anyone," Hoover said in a phone interview. Several antique dealers who said they also had no idea about the owner's controversial background told the same story.
Jones, an East Manatee resident, is known for his Quran burning demonstrations as part of his Dove World Outreach Center. He received national attention last week after the Herald reported he opened Fry Guys Gourmet Fries in the DeSoto Square mall even as he is on an al-Qaida hit list.
Jones and his brother operate TSC Moving, which ships furniture across the country. The company was started in Gainesville in 2008 but has since moved its base to Atlanta while maintaining its corporate address in Bradenton. The phone number is disconnected and contact information has been removed from TSC's website.
Dealers said quotes are still being taken and customers are being asked to prepay for shipments. They are trying to protect other dealers from having their money taken without a delivery or pick-up being made.
In an interview with the Herald, Jones said he's been overwhelmed of late between starting up the fry stand and all the al-Qaida buzz leading to delays with TSC.
"We just are at the time, really, really backed up," Jones said. "We will be in contact with those people."
Jones said he will be in contact with the furniture dealers this week to update status about when they will receive their items. He said he's not sure if his trucking business will continue. Furniture dealers said they were told by drivers that they were fired from the company.
"We haven't made a clear decision on what we're going to do exactly," Jones said. "We're in the process of making some changes."
Lynn Goode of Lynn Goode Vintage in Houston said she is waiting for two dining room tables and four chairs to be delivered for her store. That's on top of a $2,700 charge for a delivery never made that's being contested with her credit card company. Good did more digging into the company and was shocked to learn of Jones' involvement. She said she wouldn't have used his company if she would have known.
"This is really creepy," she said.
Safety, consumer record
Interstate movers are regulated by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration for both consumer and safety complaints. A spokesman for the federal agency said it does not have records of consumer complaints about TSC. However, a spokesman for the Georgia Office of Consumer Protection said his office received two complaints in 2014 and forwarded those to the agency.
Both complaints in Georgia are similar to those of Hoover and Good and other furniture dealers saying they are waiting on inventory to be delivered or customers aren't receiving merchandise.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services also has two complaints recorded against the company from 2012 and 2013.
TSC's safety record also has several marks against it. TSC Moving has been cited numerous times for drivers failing to keep logs and driving over the maximum hours allowed, according to the federal database. One driver was also cited for driving under the influence, according to the federal database.
Federal records show that a 49-year-old driver for the company was cited in a fatal crash on Oct. 28 on 50th Street North in Tampa.
Fries, protest update
Since the Herald's story on his french fry business first ran, the mall management and Jones agreed to take some additional steps. Jones originally agreed to remove three large photos of himself and his co-owners from the fry stand wall. He has since agreed to take his name off the lease and to stay out of the mall for awhile.
"He asked me to lay low and not come to the mall for awhile," Jones said.
Jones' name is still on the business filings and he will continue to be a primary owner. He said he's not sure what difference it makes.
"I don't see a real big accomplishment other than he can make that statement," he said.
He's also taking advantage of the attention and staging a protest at the Tampa Bay Times, 490 First Ave. S., St. Petersburg, from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday with the images of the prophet Muhammad. Showing the prophet's image is considered sacrilegious in Islam, and the parody of Muhammad in French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2011 was motivation for this month's attack at the Parisian paper.
Jones along with Wayne Sapp, who works with him to lead his outreach center and fry stand, are appearing as an apology to the French people for President Barack Obama not sending a higher ranking official to the Paris solidarity march against terrorism. Obama had sent the U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley and assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland to the march.
"We are not going to back down," Jones said. "We are going to continue to speak out against Islam."
Samir Khatib, a spokesman for the Islamic Society of Sarasota and Bradenton, told the Herald in a previous interview that the society disagrees with Jones' views and actions.
"We should be acting in a manner of respect of other people's views, their existence, living and prosperity," he said.