A Gatineau woman whose belongings were seized by a Toronto moving company in a dispute over fees is finally getting them back, the latest development in a five-week ordeal between Jessica Brutus and a firm that has been flagged by the Better Business Bureau for questionable practices.
A motion filed by Brutus’s Toronto lawyer, Rocco Scocco, was heard this week, and a court has issued an interim order to the company, Move Me Again Transportation, to return Brutus’s belongings Saturday. Brutus must deposit a $400 security fee pending final determination of the case.
Brutus says the experience has left a sour taste. “I am trying to stay optimistic that they will stay true to their words now that it is legally binding. However, I won’t rest easy until I physically have my belongings back in my home,” she said.
“There was definitely a break of trust there and, though this feels like a win, I am still baffled by how far I had to go to get my personal stuff back.”
The Citizen made several attempts to reach Move Me Again for its side of the story but didn’t get a response.
The Better Business Bureau has flagged Move Me Again as a company with a record of complaints against it. “Consumers have advised our office that the cost of their move increased substantially from initial quotes that led them to enter into contracts,” the BBB says. “When consumers request an explanation or a reduction, they are advised that their items will not be delivered until full payment is remitted.”
Experts say similar schemes are a growing problem in the moving industry and warn customers to be wary.
“The moving industry in Canada has been unregulated since the mid-1980s and scam artists disguised as legitimate companies are taking advantage of people,” said Nancy Irvine, president of the Canadian Movers Association. “An unsuspecting customer can be extorted for thousands of dollars more than the original quote, have their things hidden with no recourse but to pay the ransom fee.”
Mike Kolberg, chairman of the Canadian Association of Movers, said some moving companies are giving the industry a bad name and governments need to act.
Scocco said the order shows that people who feel they have been taken advantage of by a moving company are not helpless. “This is a message to victims that if they were scammed or held to ransom in similar circumstances, they can go to court,” he said.
Brutus says her problems began Oct. 24 when she hired Move Me Again to move her possessions from Aylmer to the Plateau area of Gatineau. The quoted fee was $500, which could change depending on the weight of her possessions. She paid a $200 deposit. On arrival, the mover declared Brutus’s possessions to be between 1,000 and 2,000 pounds, but, after loading up, put the weight at 3,000 pounds. The movers didn’t weigh the items, she says, but the original $500 fee ballooned to $1,320. The mover wanted cash and Brutus went to the bank to withdraw her limit of $1,000. The balance would be paid through an e-transfer.
But an argument broke out over the timing of the unloading, and the mover said his shift was over and left. He promised to return the next morning to unload, but never did. Brutus’s belongings ended up in Toronto, included the suitcase of her mother, who was visiting from Florida. When Brutus finally reached Move Me Again, her bill had risen to $1,895, which she was told she had to pay to get her items back. That’s when she hired a lawyer and reached out to the Citizen.