Billerica Moving Company Agrees to Pay Up to $202,000 Over Allegations of Holding Consumers’ Goods Hostage
Father and Son Moving and Storage Prohibited from Engaging in Deceptive Practices; Consumers to Receive Restitution
BOSTON – A moving company from Billerica and its owners have agreed to pay up to $202,000 to settle allegations of inflating fees, demanding cash last minute, and holding consumers’ goods hostage in order to receive payment, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
The consent judgment, entered in Suffolk Superior Court on Tuesday, permanently enjoins Father and Son Relocation Services, Inc. – which does business as Father and Son Moving and Storage – from engaging in unfair and deceptive practices that violate the state’s Consumer Protection Act.
“Consumers place their faith in moving companies, entrusting them with their most valuable possessions and hard-earned money,” AG Coakley said. “This settlement protects consumers from further harm, provides them restitution, and requires that this business will operate honestly and fairly from now on.”
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 a complaint filed in court last October, the defendants lured customers with advertisements which falsely promised reliable, customer-focused service and low estimates of fees to induce consumers to contract for their services. The defendants allegedly then demanded higher fees only after they had possession of the consumers’ household goods. In order to get their belongings, consumers had no choice but to pay additional costs upfront.
The complaint also alleges that the defendants provided 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.
The settlement requires Father and Son to pay up to $202,000 in total, including $75,000 in restitution to consumers, and $110,000 in penalties to the Commonwealth. A portion of those penalties – $50,000 – is suspended, provided that the defendants do not violate provisions of the judgment. The defendants will also pay $17,000 to the Commonwealth for fees and costs associated with the case, with $10,000 of those fees suspended as well.
Consumers are advised to do their homework, shop around, and find a reputable household goods mover. The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU), 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 DPU, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at (617) 727-8400.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Schrumpf and Deputy Chief David Monahan of Attorney General Coakley's Consumer Protection Division handled this matter, with assistance from Paralegal Krista Roche, Investigators Monique Cascarano and Anthony Sibilia, and the Civil Investigations Division.