Jun 18, 2013 6:32 PM by Tom McNamara
TUCSON - You know, if you've moved once or twice, or more, that moving is very stressful.
Now imagine the added stress if your mover calls you right before delivery, and more than doubles the price of the move. If you don't pay, they don't deliver your belongings.
State investigators say it's a rampant ploy that's costing Arizonans thousands of extra dollars with every move.
The News 4 Tucson Investigators teamed up with state authorities, to try to put a stop to one cross-country con job that was targeting a Tucson family.
It involved a moving company from out of state. The driver and his helper arrived in Tucson with furniture from Illinois, destined for a local family. But he was demanding $3,002 over the price that was agreed to with another family member back in Illinois.
The family asked the driver, "If you don't collect the balance, you don't unload the furniture? No, but. So where does it go? They gonna put it some kind of storage."
The Caswell family said they were shocked to get a call from the movers one day before delivery, demanding the extra $3,002.
The driver claimed the load was thousands of pounds heavier than first quoted, hence the extra charge.
So the family called the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures for help.
Which brings us to delivery day.
Investigators from the Department of Weights and Measures, along with Tucson Police, were there as the movers arrived.
State inspectors say here's what's really happening: the family's belongings have been handed over, sold, from one moving company to another. Usually, this involves small, independent, out-of-state moving companies that people find on the Internet. They say in this case, these guys are the fourth moving company to carry the family's stuff.
One company 'sells' the load to the next, and keeps some of the original payment the family made. So every time the stuff changes hands, the price goes up, so that subsequent movers can make a good profit. But, once the movers become aware that the authorities are here, their story starts to change.
They claim the original moving company is calling the shots raising the price, and they're merely here to deliver.
What could have been a two-hour delivery becomes a seven-hour ordeal. The movers stalled, and kept rolling-out piles of paperwork and making phone calls, reaching voices on the other end who ultimately claim no knowledge of any extra charges.
Cheryl Caswell, their intended target, said "it's a confusing process, so I think it's intended to confuse you, intimidate you. You don't understand where the additional charges are coming from."
If the movers try to leave with the family's belongings, the investigators said, they would be arrested for felony theft.
Gradually, the family's items start rolling off the truck, and the delivery drivers start backing-off the extra charges.
The News 4 Tucson Investigators asked the driver if he was, in fact, trying to cheat the Caswells. He told us,"Actually not, I'm telling you I never give anybody price. We not give anybody price, we not do nothing. But you have to understand the customer open the contract, so that's different company, not me." That's the same thing he kept telling state investigators.
Bottom line here: the family saved over $3,000 in overcharges by contacting the Department of Weights and Measures, and reporting the overcharge before the movers showed up.
One more thing - when the furniture was picked-up in Illinois, the family was told the load weighed 3300 pounds.
The family says when these movers called them the day before delivery, they claimed the load was actually 7800 pounds - more than double the original figure.
So investigators in Tucson weighed their truck before and after this delivery. We followed them to the weigh station after the delivery; see what the family's goods actually weighed.
It was only 2,800 pounds.
For more information about how you can avoid getting ripped-off when hiring a moving company, click here for tips from the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures.