Moving Company Accused of Hiking Costs, Holding Goods Hostage
AG’s Office Obtains Injunction Halting Deceptive and Abusive Practices by Father and Son Moving and Storage, Seeks Consumer Restitution
BOSTON – Responding to a pattern of consumer complaints about a moving company that allegedly inflated fees, demanded cash, and held goods hostage in order to receive payment, Attorney General Martha Coakley has filed suit against Father and Son Moving and Storage and obtained a preliminary injunction order in Suffolk Superior Court.
According to a complaint filed in court by the AG’s Office, Father and Son Relocation Services, Inc. of Billerica, which does business as Father and Son Moving and Storage (Father and Son), violated the state’s Consumer Protection Act by giving low estimates to consumers and then inflating fees after loading the goods onto a truck, demanding payment in cash without advance notice, and threatening to hold goods hostage and auction them off if consumers did not pay the higher fees.
“We allege that this company lured customers by giving out low estimates they did not intend to honor, and then pressured them to pay higher fees in cash, or lose their belongings,” AG Coakley said. “This court order protects consumers from further harm while we pursue this case and seek restitution.”
Defendants in this case also include Bryan Taylor, president of Father and Son, Keith Taylor, treasurer, secretary and director of Father and Son, and PR Taylor Enterprises, LLC, which does business as Father and Son Moving and Storage. The defendants offer services for consumers moving within Massachusetts, and consumers making interstate moves.
According to the complaint filed on October 26, the defendants also provide storage and warehousing services for goods at their facility in Billerica, but prior to August 30, 2012, had done so without the required license to operate a public warehouse issued by the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety.
Since May 2010, the AG’s Office has received complaints from more than 80 consumers about Father and Son, pertaining to moves both out of state and within Massachusetts. The lawsuit from the AG’s Office states that Father and Son claimed on their website to be “a trusted leader in residential moving… committed to provide our customers with a successful and stress free home moving experience,” but the company provided unfair and deceptive treatment which was the opposite of what it promised.
The defendants based their demands for higher fees on the weight or volume of goods, or the need to assess “unforeseen” costs like packing services, packing materials, or “long carry” fees, despite the fact that the consumer understood that those services would be included in the price quoted. When consumers balked at paying the hiked rate, Father and Son allegedly threatened to hold the goods hostage in storage (at an additional fee) and not release them without payment of the inflated price in cash.
Under a preliminary injunction order, agreed to by the parties and executed by Judge Thomas Connors on November 5, the defendants are prohibited from engaging in the unfair and deceptive practices described in the complaint, and must preserve assets and records.
AG Coakley’s complaint also seeks full restitution to consumers harmed in this case, and the payment of civil penalties to the Commonwealth.
Consumers are advised to do their homework, shop around, and find a reputable household goods mover. The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, which licenses household goods movers operating within Massachusetts, offers tips on selecting a reputable mover. Carriers moving household goods from one state to another must be licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which offers tips on selecting a reputable interstate mover.
Consumers who wish to complain about a household goods mover may contact the licensing authority, or may contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at (617) 727-8400.
Assistant Attorneys General David Monahan and Matthew Schrumpf of Attorney General Coakley's Consumer Protection Division are handling this matter, with assistance from Paralegal Krista Roche, Investigator Monique Cascarano, and the Civil Investigations Division.