Cross country moving catastrophe

Seven On Your Side
May 21, 2010 9:42:31 PM PDT
The moving company destroyed the family's possessions, and then, incredibly, asked the Brooklyn family to pay the remainder of the shipping bill. It's a cautionary tale of what a consumer shouldn't do when hiring a mover. Furniture is sparse in Lily Lattin's new California home. All she has left is a sofa, a table, and a couple of beds. "It's devastating," says the former Brooklyn resident.

In February, she packed up the contents of her family's Brooklyn apartment. And paid a $2365 down payment to a moving and storage company named TLC Moving and Storage. The TLC short for "tender loving care." What could go wrong, right? Wrong.

Their moving van never made it out of the tri-state area. It came to North Elizabeth for service and somehow caught on fire and was completely destroyed.

"The only thing we had left over was what was packed in our suitcase," said Lily.

TLC Moving and Storage put in an insurance claim, but since Lily opted for the minimum coverage, she got back just $2360.

TLC was supposed to pay her a $1,000 deductible. But there were strings. The mover wouldn't pay the money until she signed a legal release. If she signed, she'd get a grand, but gave up her rights to sue or any more compensation.

"I would not sign it," Bob Russo, the head of New Jersey's Warehousemen and Moving Association, said when he heard about it.

The expert pointed out the reason. Federal regulation from the Department of Transportation Part 375.709 that TLC never told Lily about.

It states if a shipment is a total loss a mover is forbidden from collecting shipping costs.

"They had a 100% loss of a shipment. So a 100% of the shipment charges need to be refunded," said Bob Russo.

After we clued TLC in to this regulation, it agreed to refund Lily's $2365 in shipping charges. And finally paid the $1,000 deductible it owed. But this time? No strings were attached.

"It was amazing and just so much effort and so much follow up and follow through by WABC," said happy former New Yorker. "It was exceptionally helpful and we're really grateful."

The big lesson here? If you're planning a long move strongly consider paying the mover for zero deductible insurance. It would've cost Lily only an additional $300. But after the fire, would've paid her $35,000.

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Story by: Nina Pineda


Produced by: Steve Livingstone

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