Movers demand payment despite total loss of items

June 21, 2010 6:16:38 PM PDT
A new Oakland resident just finished moving and it was an absolute nightmare. The lesson she learned is a lesson for everybody.

A moving company destroyed the family's possessions, but still demanded to be paid in full. Fortunately for Lilly Lattin, she had the law on her side.

"Just a couch, nothing more, nothing less," Lilly Lattin says.

A sofa, a table and a couple of beds are all she has left to furnish her new Oakland home.

"It's devastating," she says.

She packed up her Brooklyn apartment in February and gave a $2,365 down payment to a moving company called TLC, short for Tender Loving Care. Everything was fine until the van with all her belongings caught fire, destroying most of what she owned.

"The only thing that we had left over was what was packed in our suitcase," she says.

TLC helped Lattin file an insurance claim, but she had only paid for minimal coverage, not enough to cover all her belongings. That was a big mistake.

"Consumer's goods are probably going to be more valuable than that, so they're going to want to make sure that they have insurance sufficient to cover their goods," says Julie Halligan with the California Public Utilities Commission. "They're going to want to declare the value of their goods accurately."

Lattin has been promised she will get back her shipping charges of $2,300. TLC also agreed to pay her $1,000 insurance deductible, but only if she signed an agreement not to sue for any more money.

"I would not sign it," says Bob Russo with the New Jersey Warehouseman and Moving Association.

The association points to a federal regulation stating that if a shipment is a total loss, a mover is prohibited from collecting shipping costs.

"They had a 100 percent loss of a shipment," Russo says. "So, 100 percent of the transportation charges need to be refunded."

The 7 On Your Side unit at KGO's New York sister station stepped in and TLC agreed to refund both its shipping charges to Lattin and her $1,000 deductible, with no strings attached.

"It was amazing and just so much effort and so much follow up and follow through," Lattin says. "It was exceptionally helpful and we're really grateful."

If you are planning a major move, consider buying zero deductible insurance. In Lattin's case, it would have cost her an extra $300, but she would have received $35,000 for her claim.


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