SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. — A woman tells Channel 2 Action News that she had a binding estimate from movers for her move back home to Atlanta for just under $5,000.
But when it was time to unload her things, the movers demanded more than double that.
Now, after a 10-month-long dispute, they are threatening to auction off her things.
The moving company MMG Movers is now demanding more than $14,000 On top of the $5,000 the now-Sandy Springs woman already paid -- all for the contents of a 9′ x 10′ storage unit.
“They’re just holding it hostage. Holding my things hostage,” said Angela Forte.
The preschool teacher told Channel 2 consumer investigator Justin Gray that her apartment has looked empty for not just a few days or even a few weeks. She’s been waiting on movers to deliver her things for nearly a year.
“For me to live like this, I am so ashamed,” Forte said.
Forte told Gray that she signed a binded estimate for $4,600 with what turned out to be a moving broker who passed the job on to another company.
But when the movers from MMG Moving showed up late the day of the move from California to Atlanta, MMG claims Forte signed a new contract.
She had already paid more than $5,300, but MMG said she agreed in writing to pay another $5,700 on top of that.
That’s more than $11,000 to move just the contents of a 9′ x 10′ storage unit.
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“They say you signed off on these extra charges,” Gray asked Forte.
“No, I did not. I have a blank thing that I signed because I have to leave,” Forte said.
MMG demanded $5,700 before unloading the truck here in Atlanta.
He said, ‘Well, you do have a balance and it has to be paid before the things can get off the truck,’” Forte said.
Now, MMG said it will be auctioning off Forte’s things unless she pays up for storing her items over the past year.
“I can’t afford to pay that to anybody. Even if I had the money to pay, I wouldn’t pay because they don’t deserve that,” Forte said.
Gray spoke on the phone to an MMG manager who said Forte signed the new paperwork, so she owes the money -- period.
Forte is adamant that the “balance due” line for $5,700 was filled in after she signed the document.
“When I signed, when I put my information here, there was nothing on it,” Forte said.
“So you’re calling her a liar?” Gray asked Jeremy Carter with MMG Moving.
“100%. We have everything to prove that that’s not the way it went,” Carter told Gray. “She should have never signed and agreed to a price she’s not willing to pay.”
MMG Moving has a one out of five-star rating with the Better Business Bureau.
“Doing your homework will save you thousands of dollars and a lot of aggravation as well,” Lori Silverman with Clark Howard’s Consumer Action Center said.
She told Gray to avoid this kind of a mess, customers need to research companies thoroughly beforehand using the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website.
Silverman said to never ever signed a document with blanks on it.
“You’ve got to read everything in a moving document and the fine print,” Silverman said.
“I don’t know how they go to bed at night and sleep,” Forte said.
Gray called around to other moving companies on Wednesday and got estimates in the $3,000 to $5,000 range for the same move -- not $11,000.
Federal regulators have a whole list of red flags to watch for.
MMG has an auction scheduled for next week for Forte’s things if she doesn’t pay them more than $14,000 on top of the $5,000 she already paid.
They are also demanding nearly $8,000 in storage fees for holding her stuff for the past 10 months.
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