Families fight moving company over damaged, lost, held belongings

Across the country, families have slept on floors for months and mourned priceless possessions that have disappeared at the hands of a moving company some people call a scam.

The I-Team continues to follow stories of families struggling to live without everything they own, paying large amounts of money to get them back. We first told you the story of the Baumann family, who moved from Wisconsin to Florida. They did get their belongings, but Dad, Chris, remains part of the fight because of dozens more families like his.

"I just felt gutted," describes Kristi Hammond of realizing the company got away with thousands of her family's dollars without even moving them.

Barbara Richards said she started to cry when she saw the state of her belongings. The Angle family in North Carolina only had their clothes. 

"The rest, they have it," said Vanessa Angle.

Everything these people own was lost, damaged, or held hostage for months by Titan Moving and Storage Van Lines Corp. 

"We have all our memories there," said Angle's husband Bradley. "All the pictures of our kids."

The family moved in July. Now they tell the I-Team, the company wants more money before telling the company where they can get their belongings.

Richards moved to California. She did get her belongings, most of them damaged.

"I sold my house and I left anything I didn't care about," she explained. "The things that I had, some of them were irreplaceable and are now gone."

Hammond paid thousands of dollars in a deposit to the company for her move to Texas.

"I started calling them to schedule the move and nobody ever called me back," she said. She considers herself lucky. The company ghosted when she tried to set up her move. But, many across the country did load their belongings onto trucks, left to fight the company to get them back.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has gotten more than 100 complaints about Titan Moving & Storage Van Lines Corp. in the last two years. 98 of those came in 2018.

The company is registered with the Department of Transportation. There are several other companies registered under the name Titan Moving & Storage, but Titan Moving & Storage Van Lines Corp is not registered as a "Household Goods Carrier," the title given to legitimate moving companies. 

Even so, attorney Evan Schmit tells the I-Team, burned customers don't have many options.

"You have a federal law that makes it very difficult for consumers to sue the carrier, the moving company," Schmit said.

He explained federal laws were likely written for businesses shipping goods valued only for what the company would sell them for. But, for personal moves, the current laws miss the heart of the issue.

"We can replace the furniture but not the pictures, not the movies, not the heirlooms from family," Vanessa Angle said.

Schmit said the damages are limited to the cost of replacing the items. When it comes to family photos or heirlooms, he said the value is very limited. He explained, unlike state consumer protection laws, the Federal laws for moving companies don't include provisions for attorney costs. So, even if a family is willing to go to court to get back the resale value of their possessions, they're still footing the bill for a lawyer. The Angle family recently started a GoFundMe to cover the cost of an attorney willing to take their case, for 350 dollars an hour.

"Thousands of people every year get scammed by bad moving companies and nothing is being done about it," lamented Bradley Angle. "I hope someone changes the law. I think legally something is gonna happen," Vanessa said.

The FMCSA is investigating the company.

If you're a victim of Titan Moving & Storage, send an email to the I-Team: iteam@tmj4.com

You can file a complaint with the FMCSA HERE.

The Better Business Bureau tells the I-Team fraudulent moving company complaints are on the rise. Here's what they recommend:

  • Get three in-person estimates
  • Have a written contract
  • Check references
  • Ask for the business' insurance information.
     
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