Moving is tricky enough without worrying about being tricked by the moving company. But it happens. The state regulates movers, and their list of illegal movers is seven pages long. But investigators say if you do just a little homework before you move, you can avoid being taken.
Jared Wolney got so frustrated with a rogue moving company, he picked up a camera to tell his story after waiting and waiting for his belongings - boxes he only got after paying a lot more money than originally agreed to.
Jared and his wife Lindsey felt like they had to do something to help stop the company. Nothing else was working. They reported Real Movers, an Atlanta company, to the Better Business Bureau, the Public Service Commission, even to the police. Lindsey Wolney said, “We felt like we've been tricked and manipulated by these people and it's really frustrating.”
The Wolneys hired Real Movers to take them from South Carolina to Colorado, but what they didn't know is what state regulators know about companies like this who are on the state's list of illegal movers.
According to Tim Echols of the Public Service Commission, “These people gouge consumers. They take advantage of people. They hold people's furniture hostage. You don't want to do business with these people even if the quote is low. You can't trust them.“
After our original story, callers and writers taken by this company or families thinking about moving asked the I-Team how they can avoid bad or illegal movers. And how companies like this can keep doing business in the state. Well, we went to the Public Service Commission who regulates them and asked your questions.
Echols says, “We have essentially one staff member to handle the entire state. We don't have any guns or badges or flashing lights to do any enforcement. So it is a tremendous challenge.“
That one man, Robert West, oversees the whole state. And bad movers know he is out-manned.
So before you pay a mover, go to the PSC's Web site. You can find a list of bad movers - companies on the state's radar. Had the Wolney's done that they would have seen Real Movers address listed, the same company using different names.
But look closely at the PSC's bad mover list. The PSC says often illegal moving companies - not just Real Movers - will use a company name that seems familiar but isn't exactly the same. The PSC's Tim Echols says that is strategy on the part of illegal movers. He says “This is not unlike people who give little kids Web sites that sound like Disney and take them to some porn site. These people are trying to take advantage of name recognition and trick consumers.”.
Commissioner Echols says if you even think you are negotiating with an illegal mover, call the PSC immediately. They are interested in catching these folks in the act.