Devastated customers of a storage firm have told how they have been left “angry and heartbroken” after their belongings were taken and never returned.

Caledonian Moving and Storage is said to have left clients out of pocket by up to tens of thousands of pounds, while several have also lost out on sentimental items such as family heirlooms or children's keepsakes.

Some have been fighting for years to have their possessions returned, facing numerous excuses from “rude and aggressive” businessman David Howie.

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The Herald has been in touch with ten customers of the Glasgow firm, which also uses the names Movecare, Smart Space Self Storage and Air Road Sea Experts.

Some have had their belongings returned badly damaged, while others are still fighting to get them back.

HeraldScotland: David HowieDavid Howie

When confronted by The Herald, Mr Howie admitted that customers had not always received adequate service, but claimed he had tried to put things right.

One customer, Gale Mahood, a former director at the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, placed all of her effects in storage with the firm when she left Glasgow in 2013 and has never seen them since.

She said: "I contacted David Howie in 2016 to arrange for my belongings to be taken out of the climate controlled storage unit, negotiated a price, and paid for their shipment to Germany.

"We set a date for delivery, but the shipment never arrived. For months, I chased him. On rare occasions he picked up the phone and gave me a laundry list of excuses, convinced me that he intended to honour his commitment, and then went back into silence.

"I chased him until I couldn't any more. And then I started living in my empty apartment and tried accepting that I had been ripped off."

Ms Mahood, who claims she paid Mr Howie more than £5000 in fees, estimates that her belongings are worth around £20,000. They include antique furniture such as an 18th century four-poster bed, first edition books and several valuable paintings.

She told The Herald that when she posted negative reviews about his company, Mr Howie threatened to throw her belongings in a skip.

"I've bought new furniture and started over," she added. "However, losing everything you ever owned isn't something you can just get over. There isn't a day that goes by that I am not aware of this loss."

Another customer, who asked to be named only as Stephanie, moved from Glasgow to Indiana with her husband and three children in August last year and is still waiting for their belongings.

She has been forced to buy new furniture and clothing for her family due to the delay and has spent months worrying she might never see her effects again, including sentimental items belonging to her children.

She said: "All three of my children’s baby books and memento boxes are in the shipment. There are bits of hair from their first haircuts, all the sonogram pictures, their hospital bracelets, cards from the baby showers, pieces of their schoolwork, report cards. Every single memento I’ve saved from them growing up is in the shipment.

"I’m not interested in getting the money we paid back or in suing for damages. I really just want our things- most of which are irreplaceable and things that I literally can’t imagine never getting.

"I’m just heartbroken that this has happened."

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Following The Herald contacting Mr Howie, both Ms Mahood and Stephanie have received assurances that their items will be shipped out to them.

Several other customers have also had items go missing after storing them with Caledonian, including Elaine Chandler, of Bishopbriggs, who placed the contents of her four-bedroom house into storage in 2017.

When she asked for her items to be returned the following year, several pieces were badly damaged and others were missing, including a Bose sound bar and a Cannondale bike.

Ms Chandler also claimed that a chair and a box of items belonging to someone else were delivered to her and when she raised this, the items were thrown into a pile of rubbish due to be skipped. Mr Howie denies this. 

The businessman is also accused of claiming customer Angela Iles, who now lives in Australia, had mental health problems when she complained about missing items. He also denies this.

Customers Wendy Pearson, of Govan, and Marie Brown, of Rutherglen, also had pieces go missing, as well as Ruth Ramsay, of Stonehouse, Lanarkshire, who is missing a precious artwork that belonged to her late mother.

HeraldScotland: Ruth Ramsay with a copy of her missing pictureRuth Ramsay with a copy of her missing picture

Ms Ramsay has been told that the picture is broken and in for repair, but when asked by The Herald, Mr Howie refused to reveal where it is being repaired.

Ms Ramsay said: “I've been so devastated. It's been really upsetting that someone can stand and tell you bare-faced lies. I really want my picture back but I don’t think that will ever happen now.”

Others have also had problems with the firm, including Erica Quinn, of Glasgow, who had several items delivered badly damaged and Kenneth Primrose, now of Newcastle, who had to fight for months to have his belongings delivered just as he and his partner had a baby.

Others have also told of damaged items and excessive delivery delays and there are numerous scathing reviews of the firm online.

According to Companies House, Caledonian Moving and Storage dissolved in 2015, however a website using that name continued to operate until The Herald contacted Mr Howie.

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Move Store (Glasgow) Ltd, which trades as Movecare, is - according to Companies House - owned by Mr Howie’s father, James Howie.

The Herald visited the firm’s storage facility and spoke to Mr Howie, who confirmed that he is the one running the firm.

He said some of the problems had been caused by warehouse difficulties and moving premises, as well as financial problems. He also said that in Stephanie's case, some of the delay was caused by the shipping firm her was initially using entering liquidation.

The businessman, who claimed that at times he has suffered mental health problems, added: "Sometimes things go wrong, but I’ve always tried my best to put things right when they have."

Following this meeting he sought to stop The Herald publishing the story. He sent a lawyer's letter and claimed he had reported the publication to the police and raised a complaint with press body IPSO.