Moving Violation

A local mover and shirker hauls a load to bankruptcy court--for the sixth time.

State and local agencies that are supposed to investigate consumer complaints about movers haven't fared much better. When one customer complained to the Colorado Attorney General's office about A&R Transfer a few months ago, she received a letter stating that the office had been unable to locate the company, which had "either gone out of business or has moved its operations to another location, leaving no forwarding address...If it comes to our attention that the business is again operating in Colorado we may then renew our efforts to contact them." (Note to AG consumer specialist Sherril Potter: See large book published by US West titled "Metro Denver Yellow Pages," subheading "Movers," page 1361.)

Denver chief deputy district attorney Phil Parrott confirms that his office also received a complaint about A&R Transfer but says that no charges have resulted. "We have talked to various agencies, state and federal, about Mr. Kagan," Parrott says, "but we have not made a filing."

Gary Frank Petty, president of the National Moving and Storage Association, says it's up to consumers to check out references and purchase the necessary insurance before letting a mover touch their worldly belongings. "Unfortunately, in some major cities, predatory practices among unethical moving companies are prevalent," he says. "Many people will get lured into this by pricing. Very often it's represented to customers that the company is fully insured and bonded, and customers think that means their goods are insured. And it means no such thing."

Petty talks about fly-by-nighters whose chief assets consist of a full-page ad in the Yellow Pages and a phone bank: no trucks, no warehouse, no staff, no insurance. The chances of getting satisfaction from such folks are dismal. "These guys operate under the radar," he says. "Often, because the amounts involved are not that great, it's treated as a consumer nuisance item."

Tell that to Judith Berg. "I never got my stuff," she says, "and a lot of it was Alan's. It was priceless.

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