It took 105 days- nearly four months- for a Wisconsin man to get his possessions from a moving company. They hauled away his stuff in June and wouldn't tell him where it was until Wednesday.
Turns out, it wasn't on its way to Florida, but was in a storage unit in Illinois. Chris Baumann hopped in a moving truck and drove to find it as soon as he got the call. He didn't know what he'd find since other people who used the same company said their belongings were missing or returned damaged.
"That's my stuff," he said when he lifted the green door to the storage unit.
It's a relief Baumann wasn't sure would ever come.
"I expected damage and I also expected not to see everything," he said. "You can't see what's not there, but I expected there would be things stolen."
Expectations forged by previous customers of Titan Moving and Storage. Baumann hired the company back in June to move his family's belonging from Lake Mills, WI to Florida. He checked consumer complaints and had a contract. Later, he noticed red flags. Movers demanded cash and doubled the quote once they arrived. At the time, Baumann chose to believe the best. Now it seems he may be one of the lucky ones.
"I think it might all be there," he marveled, looking at the storage unit.
A feat not without great effort from Baumann. It was a 15-week quest for answers.
"I've been working this problem," explained Baumann. "I've been like intense and motivated and angry and like turning every stone I could find to figure this thing out," he recalled.
He's still not sure what the company was doing for the months he contacted them without relief.
"Literally the only thing I can think of is that they tried to get more money out of me and somehow or another my pushback was enough," he speculated. His pushback included receipts and recorded conversations. He said when he offered evidence to the company, the backed down from their requests for more money. He suggests everyone keep detailed records. It's a message he'll share specifically with dozens of others he's connected with over these horrible few months.
"Anything I can do legally to them, anything I can do to change some type of law or oversight. You know, there are too many people I've gotten to know that were victimized. No, I don't think I'm done with this," he said.
He shares one more lesson.
"My kids need to know this is what you do when something wrong happens in your life. You fight through it. And I hope that they get that. And then I hope that they love having their toys back," he said.
The Better Business Bureau says fraudulent moving company complaints are on the rise.
Here's what they recommend:
- Get three in-person estimates
- Have a written contract
- Check references
- Ask for the business' insurance information.