A woman is crying foul after she says a moving company held her belongings hostage until she paid a higher price than she was initially quoted.
On Saturday, Nadia Netchaeva needed some last-minute help for her move from the Danforth Avenue to the Jane Street and Eglinton Avenue area. She was initially supposed to get help from her brother, but he fell ill. So they decided to hire a moving company from a listing they found on Kijiji.
“Their ad seemed very fairly priced. They said that they were fully insured,they had all moving supplies, fully trained staff. So naturally we believed them,” Netchaeva says.
Netchaeva says the company, called Movers & Logistics, gave her brother an estimated cost of between $180 to $250. They arrived and loaded her belongings into a rented truck, and then handed her a bill for $644 — much more than she expected for about an hour of work.
The bill lists a bed set, dresser and bags as being moved. The breakdown includes $360 for hours worked, $45 for fuel, $70 for climbing stairs, and $95 for service charges before tax.
“My original quote was a third of that price” Netchaeva says.
A moving company representative told CityNews that Netchaeva would have never been quoted such a low rate. They allege that she’s lying about the quote, and that their minimum moving rate starts at $200.
At the time, Netchaeva says that the movers told her and her father that if they didn’t pay, they would keep her belongings.
Ontario’s Consumer Protection Agency states that belongings cannot be withheld by a mover in exchange for money — it’s against the Consumer Protection Act. But it still happens — in 2015, the agency received 12 complaints and inquiries about goods being held for payment.
Nadia and her dad paid the fee in cash to a mover through the truck’s driver-side window, which she captured on video.
But their troubles didn’t end after paying the additional amount. Nadia says when the movers unloaded her things, they left behind a trail of damage.
“My storage units were smashed beyond anything,” she says.
The Better Business Bureau has given Movers & Logistics an “F” rating, stemming from nine complaints filed with the organization. Netchaeva is hoping to take them to small claims court.
But according to Simon Hildyard, owner of Phoenix Paralegal Services, cases like these usually just aren’t worth it.
“It’s not just the expense of hiring a lawyer or paralegal, it’s also the expense of having a court filing fee,” Hildyard says. In Ontario, he says that costs at least $95.
Hildyard also mentions that even if a judge decides in the customer’s favor, there’s no easy way to force a mover to pay the customer back. Instead, he advises that consumers do their homework before hiring someone.
The Consumer Protection Agency has a dedicated section on its website about how to protect your rights when hiring a mover. They advise that consumers ask for references, get detailed quotes from multiple companies, and make sure they get a contact that clearly states the services to be provided and the cost.
If you find yourself in a situation similar to Netchaeva’s however, the agency says to write “Paid Under Protest” on the bill and follow up with the company, or file a complaint with the police or the Consumer Protection Agency.