House panel backs crackdown on moving companies

Arizona lawmakers plan to crack down on moving companies that hold a homeowner's belongings until payment is made.

Arizona lawmakers plan to crack down on moving companies that hold a homeowner's belongings until payment is made.

The House Commerce Committee unanimously approved HB 2145 that expands consumer-fraud laws to include moving companies that refuse to deliver goods until the company is paid what it feels is owed, a article said. The bill also empowers the attorney general to take action when necessary.

Assistant Attorney General Amanda Rusing said the bill will provide state and local police with a specific statute to cite when an investigation is necessary, the article said. It will also allow prosecutors to charge companies with theft.

State Rep. Jeff Weninger ( R-Chandler) said he agreed to sponsor the legislation after hearing stories about the activities of “a few bad actors’’ in the business, according to the article.

“You contract, you agree upon a price," Weninger said in the article. “When you get there, it’s double or triple what the original price, the original estimate was ... And they literally hold your goods hostage until you pay it.’’

Federal law already protects consumers moving from state to state, Rusing said in the article, but Arizona previously had no law to protect consumers moving within the state.

“There’s a lot of really wonderful and ethical moving companies out there that are very supportive of this measure,’’ Rusing said in the article. “It’s impossible for them to compete with moving companies that are luring customers in with these low-ball offers only to turn around and defraud them later on.’’

A Tucson resident told lawmakers that when she moved her family just two miles, she hired a moving company, which then brought in an extra truck and extra movers, resulting in an extra expense she did not approve, the article said. The owner of the company said she must pay for the additional truck and workers or have her goods held until she pays. The final price was nearly triple the original estimate, the article said.

The bill also explains that movers must accurately disclose all fees and charges, as well as what insurance covers if items are lost or broken, the article said.

The House must approve the bill before it moves on to the Senate.

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