Sharath Kumar will soon be starting a fellowship in cardiology in Halifax, so he and his wife Ripu Daman packed up their belongings in Toronto and moved to Nova Scotia at the end of July.
To make things easier, they hired a moving company. But the couple claims they are being charged much more than the agreed rate.
Now, they’re fighting to get their belongings and are forced to self-isolate in an empty apartment.
READ MORE: Moving scams: How to avoid being ripped off
The couple says most moving companies offered comparable prices for their small one-bedroom apartment, so they chose Moonstar Vanlines, also named Greenway Moving.
“(An employee) said ‘this is how it’s going to be, around 750 plus some basic packing charges and stuff, so maybe 850.’ That was the charge,” said Kumar.
The estimate was based on a move of 1,000 pounds. Kumar and Daman say they were prepared to pay a little bit more if their belongings weighed more than that, but they say they were only moving a small one-bedroom apartment.
“The biggest item was a three-seat sofa, there’s a TV which is 55 inches, a TV stand, one small dining table with two chairs,” said Kumar.
“We discarded our bed frame so it was only a queen size mattress, two or three boxes of wardrobe, some books and three to four small boxes of kitchen stuff,” said Daman.
The moving process itself had some bumps.
The couple says movers arrived nearly five hours late and didn’t finish until 9:30 that evening. The couple says they were tired and had a flight the next day, but they were looking forward to settling into their new place in Halifax.
A few days after they arrived in Nova Scotia, the couple received a call from the moving company saying they would need to pay $6,000 for their belongings.
An invoice shows it’s based on a weight of 7,000 pounds.
The pair say they were in shock.
“It was a small apartment, maximum it would be 2,000 pounds, you know, that’s the maximum. I’m pretty sure our weight is 1,000 or 1,500 pounds,” Kumar said.
They reached out to the company to see if there was a mistake but the couple says they were told there was no mistake.
Global News reached out to Greenway who confirmed the situation by phone saying that on the moving day the couple had agreed to a flat rate of 7,000 pounds and signed a contract.
“They actually went over it with the driver, the driver explained it exactly to the person, that the client that’s moving, the charges and what they’re being offered,” said company representative Linda Erikson.
Kumar and Daman say they never agreed to a flate rate charge, and say nobody offered a different contract from their initial estimate which was a pay by weight model rather than a flat rate.
However, they admit they signed a form on moving day in a rush.
“He didn’t explain anything and he was like hustling, he was in a hurry. Then he showed us a paper and he (said) ‘okay we received your stuff, just sign here.'”
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says this type of behavior is not uncommon and the moving industry is plagued with consumer complaints.
“The moving industry has four times more “F” rated companies on our website than any other industry,” said Kristin Matthews with BBB.
“Because the moving industry is highly unregulated, we do see a lot of these issues,” Matthews said.
Matthews says anyone planning a move should do their research. She says to check reviews for the moving company, see what their BBB rating is and check with the Canadian Association of Movers.
“Get everything in writing, you need to make sure you understand the full terms of the contract,” said Matthews.
“Any legitimate company will give you time to understand and read through that so don’t feel pressured to sign on the spot.”
It’s advice Kumar and Daman say they wish they had taken.
“Even if you’re in a rush and have a flight the next day, take the time and read it over,” said Kumar.
Read more: Is moving insurance worth the extra cost?
Greenway does not have BBB accreditation. According to BBB, the complaints on their site are currently being evaluated before giving the business a rating.
As for their stuff, Kumar and Daman say they are still not sure when or if they will get it, as it’s still in Toronto with the movers.
After Global News reached out to Greenway, the company contacted the couple offering a reduced rate. But, that came with conditions including not being allowed to speak to the media.
The pair say they couldn’t agree to all the conditions and refused to sign the release form.
They say they are speaking out to warn others to do their due diligence when moving.
The pair now plans to consult with a lawyer to see if there’s anything else they can do to get their possessions back.