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Moving company holding furniture "hostage?"

Moving company holding furniture "hostage?"

By Matt Grant. CREATED Apr 11, 2012

LEHIGH ACRES - It's a moving mess for a Lehigh Acres woman.

With tears in her eyes, Vicky Gergely claims and a California-based moving company is holding her furniture for ransom.

"I have a list of stuff that's missing," said Gergely, talking to a company representative. "Two pages."

Fox 4 was there as months of frustration led to a heated phone call with the company.

"I'm not paying you a dime more...I'm going to get the rest of my furniture," she said.

Furniture she feels is being held hostage along with other sentimental items.

"It's stuff from my late husband that I'll never have," she said through tears. "I'm sorry, it's pictures that I don't have of my late husband."

Gergely moved to Lehigh Acres from Indiana back in January. A broker set her up with a California company, which she claims delivered half of her belongings a month and a half late - and no wants more money to deliver the rest.

"It upsets me that they get away with this," said Gergely.

Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant got on the phone with the company's owner.

"Why not just give her back her furniture?," asked Grant.

The owner said Gergely owes them $1500. He says her belongings are locked in a storage unit in Indiana.

After she got off the phone with him he texted her the address. He says if she wants it for free she can come get it.

"If it's here in Florida I'll go get it," said Gergely. "I will go anywhere and get it. But I can't go back to Indiana."

Gergely insists she paid the company $4700 in full and doesn't owe anything else. But she could not show us proof of that.

The Better Business Bureau of West Florida says they received 8900 complaints about movers last year, a five percent increase from the year before.

Gergely says she's learned a lesson but says it will be hard to move on.

"Please be careful," she said. "Rent a U-Haul and do it yourself."

The BBB says be weary of movers who want cash or a large deposit upfront or companies that show up in a rental truck - both of which happened to Gergely.

She says she plans to file a complaint with the Attorney General's office.

BBB Tips

Red Flags

  • The mover doesn't offer or agree to an on-site inspection of your household goods and gives an estimate over the phone or by email. The estimates often sound - and are - too good to be true.
  • The mover demands cash or a large deposit before the move.
  • The mover doesn't provide you with a copy of "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move," a booklet movers are required to supply to customers planning interstate moves.
  • The company's Web site has no address and no information about its registration or insurance.
  • The mover claims all items are covered by its insurance.
  • When you call the telephone is answered with a generic "movers" or "moving company" rather than the company's name.
  • Offices or warehouses are in poor condition or don't exist.
  • On moving day, a rental truck arrives rather than a company-owned or marked fleet truck.

Recommendations

  • Get at least three written in-home estimates. No legitimate mover will give you a firm price online or over the phone. Remember that the lowest estimate may be an unrealistic low-ball offer that can cost you in the end.
  • Know your rights. Check your rights out at www.protectyourmove.gov or with your state's attorney general's office.
  • Make sure the mover has insurance. The insurance should cover your goods while in transit. However, you may want to consider getting full value protection (insurance), which may add to the cost upfront but could save you headaches after the move. be sure you understand what the insurance covers, whether items will be repaired, replaced or if you will be offered a cash settlement that you can use to repair or replace the item on your own.
  • Check the mover's complain history. BBB Business Reviews include a company's complaint history with the BBB and are available at www.bbb.org or by calling (239) 334-4648.

Matt Grant
mgrant@fox4now.com