Florida Attorney General's Office cracking down on moving companies

Office is suing more than 10 moving businesses for giving customers "deceptive, low ball estimates then extorting higher fees by holding consumers' property hostage."

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Florida Attorney General's Office is cracking down on the moving industry.

The office is suing more than 10 moving businesses for giving customers "deceptive, low ball estimates then extorting higher fees by holding consumers' property hostage." The office also said the businesses "have harmed hundreds of consumers."

Michael Haase is with 1776 Moving and Storage and is on the board of the Professional Movers Association.

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"It's expensive to run this legitimately. When you see something and you hear a price that is too good to be true, it is too good to be true," Haase said.

Haase said some movers use different sales pitches and tactics, so the Better Business Bureau urges you to go to them first.

"We would much rather you call before than you to be in a situation where your belongings are being held hostage while you're trying to move," Haase said.

Haase said it is important to pay attention to what the company is basing their pricing off of. He said charging by how much your stuff weighs is always better than by how many cubic feet it fills in the truck.

"A business who has a volume of complaints, unhappy customers, a lot of customer reviews is common for them to change their name," Haase said.

One company did just that. Channel 9's Alexa Lorenzo spoke to an Orlando couple who hired a company that changed its name.

On Aug. 17, Ricky Brigante and Sarah Elger said they loaded their stuff onto a moving truck by Cross Country Movers.

Eight weeks went by and their items were never delivered to their new Philadelphia home.

Brigante said he started asking questions after the expected delivery date passed.

The couple filed a report for grand theft with the Orange County Sheriff's Office, and once Channel 9 started researching, we learned the company has at least five different names.

"It's common for a business to change its name because once their name has been soiled online it's difficult for them to attract new customers," said Holly Salmons, of the BBB.

Channel 9 reached out to Cross Country Movers regarding the couple's move. The company replied in an email: "The client's items are not being held hostage. It is true that the delivery has taken much longer than we would have expected ... The shipment is currently in transit ... Upon the arrival of the delivery, there will be an adjustment made to the final balance."

The items were finally delivered to the couple's home and Cross Country Movers took off about $200 for the delay.

The couple has filed complaints with the Department of Transportation, the BBB and the Florida Attorney General's Office.

Moving companies involved in the case have filed a motion to dismiss against the attorney general's lawsuit. Their next status hearing is in December.

If the Florida attorney general's lawsuit is successful, a judge could shut those businesses down and give the customers who used the companies some sort of monetary relief.