When Jesse Hanson and his wife were moving from Marietta, Ga. to Fernandina Beach, Fla., they decided to go with Priceline Moving and Storage of Atlanta to move their possessions to their new home.
But the family alleges the company originally quoted them $1800 to move their belongings from point A to point B, only to hit them with a more than $4000 bill. What's worse, they family said that if they didn't pay the entire bill, the company threatened to hold their belongings until they did.
"After a week of no communication and a full day of not knowing if I have anyone to move my stuff...at this point I'm desperate to move my stuff," Hanson told 11Alive's Deborah Tuff via Skype.
Hanson told 11Alive he felt like he had no choice but to pay for the new, much higher bill because his baby girl's crib and he and his wife's wedding pictures were amongst the items that were allegedly going to being held until they were paid for.
The ordeal all started after Hanson began trying to set up the moving agreement. Hanson said he spent an hour on the phone with a salesperson from the company while he gave them detailed information as to what needed to be packed and moved. He said he went through a walk-through of the entire house from kitchen to closet, and once they were done, the salesperson allegedly assured Hanson that "they wouldn't stick you with a higher bill like the other guys."
The company allegedly told Hanson they would do a full-service move including wrapping and some assembly.
The original contract that was brought to the Hansons quoted the entire move at an estimated $1895.06. This would include:
- Wrapping and protecting items
- Disassembling some belongings such as beds and desks
- Moving belongings from a 1700 sq. ft. house into a truck
- Driving the truck 377 miles
- Moving everything into the new home and reassembling
Hanson said it seemed like a pretty good deal, and they were required to put a $568.00 deposit. So, they paid the deposit and were on their way to moving to their new Florida home.
Hanson recalled getting worried when a week before the move, they hadn’t received any phone calls on a confirmed date and time for the movers to come and start packing up their things. He said he called the sales representative several times and left a few voice messages saying he was ready to cancel out of their contract and find someone else to help with the move.
After resorting to texting the salesperson, Hanson said he finally got a response telling him that the movers would be there on a Saturday and arrive at their new home on Sunday.
However, Hanson said when the movers showed up at 4:00 p.m. that Saturday, the foreman who oversaw the crew pulled him aside and allegedly told him that there was actually a lot more cargo than what was estimated.
Hanson said he knew that sometimes these things happened and asked what the new estimate would be. Much to his surprise, he said, the bill more than doubled from $1895.06 to $4522.25.
11Alive got ahold of that foreman and called him Tuesday afternoon to ask, how does is jump from a quote of $1,895 to nearly $5,000?
The foreman told us that when he got to the family's home, he told the Hansons the family's large furniture took up more space on the moving truck than what was discussed over the phone. He also said he warned the couple about a potential price increase, even though the "binding moving estimate" was different, and told them they could cancel the job before it started.
Despite the jump, Hanson said he felt like he had no choice but to pay the bill or else they would hold all of their belongings until the entire bill was paid. Hanson said the foreman would only accept cash or money order when he was overcharged. In the phone conversation, the foreman told us the reason, so customers can't stop payments.
We reached out to attorney Dan Conaway of Conaway & Stricker in Atlanta to ask him for his take on the matter.
"The term binding and the term estimate have opposite meanings," he said. "One argument the consumer may have is the language itself is contradictory and possibly misleading."
Conaway said there are some steps customers can take to protect themselves."The most important thing to do is work face-to-face, one on one," he recommended. "Make sure the office address listed on the Secretary of States' website or website itself matches the physical location (and) you definitely want to have the person come to your home."
11Alive went by the address listed on the the moving company's website, to try to hold the powerful accountable but didn't find their business there. We also asked other companies on the property about the business, but they said they didn't know who the moving company was. The salesperson for the Hanson's job texted us to refute the the family's claims, but said he wasn't the boss and couldn't interview with 11Alive. He said his boss is on holiday and doesn't know when or if he could get back to us.
"We just hope to save other people the trouble," Lindsey Hanson said.
Jessee Hanson told 11Alive he plans to file a complaint about Priceline Moving and Storage of Atlanta with the Better Business Bureau. The company is listed on the site with a 'B' rating, but is not accredited. There have been nine complaints against Priceline Moving and Storage in 2017 -- five of them in the month of May. The complaints have all been resolved.