Apr 2, 2014 12:30 AM by Matthew Schwartz
TUCSON - The News 4 Tucson Investigators have received dozens of complaints about 3 Gorillas Moving and Storage since first reporting on the company in January. We have learned that the Arizona Attorney General's office is investigating 3 Gorillas, which the Better Business Bureau says is Southern Arizona's most complained-about moving company.
One of the viewers who contacted us, Kathy Straus, says 3 Gorillas stored her $6,000 safe after her family moved to Vail from Vermont. Later, she says three guys from 3 Gorillas were unable to get the six foot, 2270 lb. safe from their truck into her garage. They told her they'd need two more men and another $300-$400. She declined, and says they reached an agreement that 3 gorillas would auction the safe and give her about $3500 from the sale. When she heard nothing for months, she called 3 Gorillas.
Straus told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, "The gentleman who answered the phone looked into it for me and said, 'Yup, it was sold and the money was given to charity." We asked Straus, "What do you think happened [to the safe]? Her answer: "I think they stole it."
Straus says 3 Gorillas didn't pay her a cent for the safe. She told us, "It just boggles the mind how anybody can sleep at night and do that to people."
Straus admittedly failed to get anything in writing, so decided not to sue. But other former customers did take 3 Gorillas to court.
When Bill Sash and his wife Mary were looking for a new house, they had 3 Gorillas store their belonging for nine months. Sash says once their stuff was on 3 Gorillas' truck, the company said it needed a few thousand dollars more than first told. Sash says, "You feel like you're being extorted."
So Sash took 3 Gorillas to court, and last month won a $2160 judgment. He says he then called 3 Gorillas owner, Troy Emerson.
Sash told us, "His office gave me a message through his wife's secretary, they said, 'Don't ever call here again, and you will never get paid.'"
That contradicts what Emerson told the News 4 Tucson Investigators in January about court rulings.
Emerson said, "Any judge that tells me what to do, I'll do."
One of those complaining was not a customer, but a former 3 Gorillas employee, Chris Gillam.
We said to Gillam, "We keep hearing that 3 Gorillas, once they get your stuff on a truck, your belongings, they triple, quadruple the price." He replied, "That is correct."
In our January report, we also told you about Dr. Ronald Bernstein, who had 3 Gorillas move hundreds of items from his Foothills home, including his Yamaha grand concert piano. Four days later, 3 Gorillas put the piano up for auction on EBay.
"I'm terribly upset and saddened," Bernstein told us.
We found the man who bought Bernstein's piano. Music teacher Rob Francis, who had no idea about the background details, paid 3 Gorillas $14,250 for the piano, plus $740 for delivery.
We said to Emerson, "You were offering to sell a piano that wasn't yours, it belonged to someone else." He replied, "And now I've taken all the stuff and moved it back for him and he hasn't paid me a dime."
Emerson says Bernstein owes him $30,000 in moving and storage fees, and is suing him. Bernstein is suing Emerson for allegedly losing or damaging countless items.
We also obtained a photo of Bernstein's stereo in the 3 Gorillas break-room.
Since we interviewed Emerson for our first report, he hasn't responded to numerous calls. So last Friday we visited the 3 Gorillas' office to try to get answers to the new complaints.
We were told to leave the office, get off the property and never come back. We left our card with an office worker and asked him to have Emerson call us, but he has not.
Numerous sources have told the News 4 Tucson Investigators that the attorney general is investigating 3 Gorillas. The A.G.'s office will neither confirm nor deny that.
Dr. Bernstein's lawsuit and 3 Gorillas counter-claim are scheduled to be in court in October.
Remember if you have a story you'd like us to investigate, email us at email@example.com or call our tip line, (520) 955-4444.