NEWARK – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs have filed suit against two North Jersey moving companies accused of enticing consumers with low cost estimates, then holding the consumers’ belongings hostage with the demand that they pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more than the originally agreed-upon prices.
On Tuesday, May 8, in response to a motion by the division, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Margaret Mary McVeigh issued an order that temporarily shuts down the defendants’ businesses. The order also requires Paterson-based Progressive Movers, Inc., Lodi-based ABC Packing Services, Inc., and their principals to return consumers’ property without requiring any payment, voids any contracts the defendants had to perform future moves or storage, and prohibits them from selling or transferring any assets related to the lawsuit. The judge will decide after a June 15 hearing whether the defendants’ business activities should remain shut down pending the outcome of the state’s lawsuit.
“The state has no tolerance for unscrupulous movers who hold consumers’ property hostage as a form of extortion,” Chiesa said. “We are committed to cleaning up the marketplace to ensure a fair and safe environment for anyone seeking to hire a mover – and to protect the interests of the many movers who operate honestly and in compliance with the law.”
The state has received complaints from a total of 87 consumers who say they were victims of the defendants’ predatory bait-and-switch and other unconscionable business practices, and other violations of the New Jersey Public Movers Licensing Act, Public Movers Regulations, and Consumer Fraud Act. The division currently has received more consumer complaints against the defendants than against any other moving company.
“The Division of Consumer Affairs received 199 complaints about moving companies last year – many of which were filed against these defendants,” Eric T. Kanefsky, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, said. “This action stands as a warning to predatory movers, and a reminder that consumers should learn as much as they can about a moving company, before trusting its workers with their valued property.”
The division is seeking full restitution for the affected consumers, as well as civil penalties, and repayment for the state’s investigative costs and attorneys’ fees.
Before hiring a mover, review the tips available from the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs at www.NJConsumerAffairs.com/brief/mover.pdf . They include:
- Call the Division of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-242-5846 to learn whether the mover you’re considering is licensed. Be sure to ask whether consumer complaints have been filed against the mover.
- Be sure to obtain a written estimate from the mover you select. The cost can be estimated on an hourly rate, the rate of your shipment and miles traveled, or by cubic measurement.
- Never pack jewelry, money, or valuable papers with your goods to be moved. The mover is not responsible for items of extraordinary value.
- Be sure to check your goods as they are being delivered. If loss or damage is discovered, notify the mover immediately. A damage claim can be filed up to 90 days after the move date.
- Unless you purchase additional coverage, the mover is required to compensate you only up to 60 cents per pound, per article, for damages.
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