(CBS) — A move can be one of the most stressful times of your life. Some people say a local moving company makes a difficult situation much worse, and experts say this kind of complaint is a growing trend.
“He was very demanding, very scary, very intimidating,” Janet Heilingoetter says.
“All you could do is just cry angry tears,” Jacqlin McKinnon says. “That’s exactly what I did.”
Both women described horrific moving experiences.
McKinnon booked her move to Denver online and was shocked when a different company arrived.
“I was so upset. This wasn’t the company that I gave my deposit to.”
A company called Kangaroo Van Lines arrived the day of the move. They got the job through an online moving broker.
McKinnon says after her belongings were loaded on to the mover’s truck, she got some bad news.
The mover demanded $1,000 more for her move – in effect, holding her furniture hostage until she paid, she says.
The Better Business Bureau says complaints about moving companies were up 29 percent last year.
“When you use a broker or somebody that hasn’t visited your residence, there’s always ‘Oh, we didn’t know you had this much,’” Steve Bernas says.
Janet Heilingoetter also selected one moving company online that estimated her costs. She wound up with Kangaroo Van lines, which subcontracts all interstate moves to other companies.
She says the movers that showed up demanded $600 more than her estimate to move her daughter Cassie to college in North Carolina. She claims some items were damaged and the furniture didn’t arrive when promised.
She and her husband flew to North Carolina to help her daughter move in, on the date she was told the furniture would arrive. But the load was not delivered.
“We left my daughter in North Carolina with an air mattress, paper plates and a towel,” Heilingoetter says. “It was heartbreaking to do that — to leave her there like that.”
2 Investigator Pam Zekman asked the owner of Kangaroo Van Lines, Saul Postolov, about the womens’ complaints.
“They believe they were ripped off,” Zekman told him.
“Never — impossible, impossible, impossible,” Postolov responded.
And yet he concedes he has gotten complaints. He says he recently changed the way he estimates costs by visiting customers to do a “visual.”
“Since I got the visual I got no more complaints,” he said.
Kangaroo offered Heilingoetter a $300 refund if she signed confidentiality agreement. She refused. The owner denies massive overcharges and says additional fees are in customers’ contracts. He adds that specific delivery dates cannot be guaranteed and the contracts state they have 30 days to make a delivery.
If you are planning a move, the Better Business Bureau says always get an on-site inventory with a written estimate.
Never pay for the entire move up-front. Always read the entire moving contract. Get referrals and check online ratings.