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Moving Companies Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

The moving truck with the Whites' belongings (credit: CBS4)

The moving truck with the Whites’ belongings (credit: CBS4)

DENVER (CBS4) – Anyone planning to move should know their belongings might not get there when promised as many moving companies downsized their fleets during the recession.

Now the demand is on the rise and many of the companies are struggling to keep up.

A CBS4 viewer contacted 4 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks when their possessions didn’t show up.

Those who need their belongings by a certain time should pay the extra money for a guaranteed delivery. If the company is late most contracts state the company will pay a specific dollar amount each day the belongings have not been delivered.

One couple Brooks talked to wishes they paid the extra money. In the bedroom, it’s an air mattress. In the kitchen the cupboards are bare and there’s Denver Broncos glasses picked up from a garage sale.

When Brooks sat down to talk with Sean and Becky White they pulled the patio chairs inside. It’s all they have.

“Our life is on a truck somewhere, maybe on a truck somewhere, and I don’t know if I’m going to get it back,” Becky said.

Th couple moved to Denver from Chicago in late April. They hired Colonial Van Lines, and according to the contract the estimated delivery date was April 23 through May 5. Brooks met with the Whites on May 29.

“I wish I would have paid for a guaranteed delivery date,” Becky said.

It would have meant the moving company had to arrive on time or pay the White’s for every day it was late.

“We’ve been pretty patient through this whole thing, but there comes a tipping point where there’s only so much you can take,” Sean said.

The couple knows exactly what the contract terms and conditions say now. It’s something they initially glossed over.

“There’s an estimated delivery window but they guarantee delivery to take place within 30 business days of the day first available for delivery,” Sean said.

The contract says “30 business days” but the time frame may change because of weather, road conditions, other acts of God and unknown factors. And “business days do not include holidays and weekends.”

“Originally we put a lot of pressure on them by filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau which seemed to be the only thing they responded to,” Becky said.

The BBB gives Colonial Van Lines a C minus rating and shows all of its 116 complaints closed.

“We don’t know what to do. I mean our lives are just in complete disorder,” Sean said.

Brooks contacted Colonial Van Lines and received a letter from its attorney explaining the moving industry was hit hard by the recession and companies downsized. This year the number of families moving “rose dramatically beyond industry expectation.” But Colonial Van Lines “has committed to resolving this matter” to the Whites’ satisfaction.

On the 29th business day the movers roll in.

“We had to repack the whole truck. When we got the truck it was a mess and that really took us a long time because we had to repack everything,” the moving driver said.

Sean and Becky White’s life had finally arrived. A mirror was broken and a few boxes were missing. Colonial Van Lines assured Brooks it will compensate the couple.

The BBB is a good place to start when filing a complaint against a moving company. For interstate moves across state lines the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is a great resource. They’ll investigate movers. They’ve also created a new consumer checklist to help protect moves. After going through the checklist consumers should feel confident they know how to locate a reliable and responsible company.

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