Let Joe Know: Undercover investigation captures mover jacking up prices mid-move

PHOENIX - Moving is a situation that's ripe for a rip-off. A moving company has all of your belongings in their possession and they can hold them hostage – until you pay more.

That's the situation Joanna and Bryan Rammell found themselves in recently. They just moved to the Valley from Maine and hired a company that looked good online to get all of their stuff here.

But, before their belongings made it to their new house, the mover told them the original cost estimate was wrong. Their furniture weighed a lot more than they'd been quoted, he said.

They worried if they didn't pay what the movers wanted, they wouldn't get their belongings back.

"I was like, he's got my stuff," said Joanna Rammell. "He's not planning on giving it to me."

CALLING THE AUTHORITIES

So, the Rammells pretended that they were willing to pay, and called J.J. Stroh with the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures for help.

Stroh was waiting with the Rammells – and a house full of hidden cameras – when the mover arrived.

Stroh listened while the Rammells discussed the price change with the mover.

"We're going to have to put it in storage until you guys figure it out," he told them on hidden camera.

That's the red flag. It's actually illegal for the mover to take the Rammells' stuff away at that point. If he did, they could press theft charges.

But, instead, Stroh took action. He called police and confronted the mover for breaking the law.

PROTECT YOURSELF

Since you might not have Stroh on your next move, protect yourself.

  • Get three estimates and avoid unrealistically low price estimates.
  • Ask that the estimate include an onsite inspection.
  • Determine if you're talking to a broker and demand the mover's name.
  • And check the movers' online reputation. It's best if they're a member of the American Moving and Storage Association .

Has this happened to you? And if you need help or want to warn others about a consumer problem or scam, let me know at joe@abc15.com or by going to my  "Let Joe Know" Facebook page.

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