Move from hell

Seven On Your Side
March 12, 2010 8:46:15 PM PST
Every room of the Barber family's East Islip home is bare. The reason? Tina Barber says all her family's possessions are being held hostage by a moving company. The family of four moved from Phoenix Arizona last summer, hiring a small California company they found on the internet, called Swift Moving and Storage. They had the mover store their goods until October when their house was ready.

"I just called looking for my belongs," said flustered homeowner, Tina Barber. "I could not get in touch with anybody. I just called and called. I started panicking."

"what happened was the company went bankrupt," added Tina's husband George. "And they gave all our furniture to another company without letting us know."

After an exhaustive 4 month search, Tina tracked the other company who had her goods. It was Hackensack-based Sovereign Trucking. But, there was a catch.

"We must pay him an additional $12,000. It was just crazy. Sovereign's rep told, you don't pay the money, we auction your stuff and the end of the month and that was it."

So we visited the Hackensack office of Sovereign Trucking. But it's rep wouldn't talk on camera. But over the phone, it's owner agreed to cut his price in half to around $6,300.

We got the head of New Jersey's Warehousemen and Movers Association involved, who called Sovereign directly. "They are entitled to some compensation," said Mr. Russo. "It is fair but the amount they are entitled to is going to depend on the paperwork."

But Sovereign never produced an agreement between the original mover, Swift a possible violation of federal regulations.

And last week, a federal investigator paid Sovereign a visit just to talk about the Barber's bill. And he was successful in getting it pared down to just $2,000.

And we were there when George went to East Rutherford to retrieve his family's life. But bad news for George. "Everything is damaged. Everything was neglected from water damage or just thrown. Everything just busted and ruined."

Every dresser scratched, every bed broken. But what was most important possessions, the family's photo albums, somehow survived in tact.

Even though the original company went out of business, we found out it still had insurance so the Barber family is going to try to pursue a claim through the insurance company and hope some of this will be covered. ----

Story by: Nina Pineda

Produced by: Steve Livingstone

Consumer rights when you move: