Help me sue my no-show moving company.
August 2, 2004 4:28 PM   Subscribe

Ugh! I am so pissed off! I am moving from Atlanta to New York on Friday and the movers were supposed to come tomorrow. Today at 5 pm they called and said, "We're sorry, we're actually not going to be able to move you after all. Sorry!" And I screamed and yelled and they said there was nothing they could do, they were out of trucks. I scrambled and by some miracle found another company that will move me Wednesday for $500 more. I'd love to sue this original company--East Coast Moving Systems--for the difference but don't want to pay for the attorney. What are my other recourses? They must be punished!
posted by adrober to Law & Government (20 answers total)
Summer is the busiest time. Move or complain to the BBB.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:41 PM on August 2, 2004

Did you sign anything resembling a contract? If not, I'm afraid that even the LawBot 0.92 can help you in court. IANAL.

Other than contacting the BBB, I'm afraid that there's not much you can do (unless you want to picket their office or something.) But I'm sure that more creative folks than I will be along shortly.
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:11 PM on August 2, 2004

Response by poster: Well I should mention that I just graduated law school and took the bar exam and so, based on that knowledge, I know that we did have a contract (in writing) that was enforceable because we gave a $500 deposit. They breached and we're entitled to damages, basically the difference between their contract and what I have to do to "restore" myself. The problem is that the cost of actually pursuing that claim is more than the claim itself is worth. So I guess that's why I'm looking for alternative outlets... the BBB sounds like a good idea. I just did a Google search on the company (which I should have--duh!--done earlier) and apparently it's a huge scam. I'm not the first.
posted by adrober at 5:28 PM on August 2, 2004

Not a lawyer, so what do I know? This being said, aren't $500 disputes the stuff of small claims court. You won't need a lawyer to do that, do you?

You just graduated LS (congrats -- off to NYC BIG LAW?), can't you draft a document that'll scare the hell out of the company?
posted by herc at 5:34 PM on August 2, 2004

what herc said--send an official-ish letter threatening them that unless they repay you and offer you some kind of recompense for breaking the contract (and your subsequent expenses in hiring another co. at the last minute) you'll take them to court.

and welcome! come to the next meetup : >
posted by amberglow at 5:51 PM on August 2, 2004 appears to have a lot of good information on fighting the moving company when you've been scammed and avoiding the scam in the future. Unfortunately it also appears that state regulation of interstate shipping companies is preempted, but there is no federal remedy for these moving scams.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:04 PM on August 2, 2004

Why not sue in Conciliation Court? You'll have to sue in the county that the co.'s place of business is in (Cobb?). If you know that you'll be back in Atlanta sometime in not too distant future, ask the court to give you a ct date during that time.

Something that they don't teach you in law school.... it's one thing to get a judgment, it's another to collect on it. So, even if you are victorious, which you no doubt will be, how are you going to collect?

Did you get you deposit back?

Good luck.
posted by Juicylicious at 6:23 PM on August 2, 2004

I can't believe a lawyer is asking US for advice.

Hopefully the letter will work, adrober, and they'll offer to work something out for you. A lawyer I know told me to always stay out of court if I could, because it usually ends up not being worth it. I have followed this advice, and it has served me well.
posted by orange swan at 6:30 PM on August 2, 2004

rent another of their trucks under a *well* conceived alias and park it in a lake somewhere.
posted by jmgorman at 6:53 PM on August 2, 2004

I'm thinking "class action." With yourself as the primary lawyer. You'll be able to clean up on damages!
posted by five fresh fish at 6:58 PM on August 2, 2004

The problem is that the cost of actually pursuing that claim is more than the claim itself is worth.
How's it feel, lawyer boy?! ;-P

Bookmark this incident cuz this will be the omnipresent reality of your career.
posted by mischief at 7:27 PM on August 2, 2004 [1 favorite]

mischief, but he'll still get to bill for his time : >
posted by amberglow at 7:31 PM on August 2, 2004

Response by poster: Oh don't lawyerboy me! See I'm so inept because I'm not going to practice---I'm going to NYU next year to study playwriting. So much for my law degree.

Ah, maybe that's the ticket---sublimate my anger through the magic of theater. "Death of a Moverman."
posted by adrober at 7:52 PM on August 2, 2004

As a reporter, I would be tempted to write a story about this sort of thing if a) the moving company was local to my area b) you were local to my area and c) you approached me about it.

So why don't you draft up a threatening letter, such as Orange Swan mentioned, then casually mention you'll simply take the story to the local paper if they don't do anything. It's a timely August story for reporters because it's moving season again, especially for thousands upon thousands of college kids. (If I were writing the story myself, I'd be writing a general moving story and mention your example as something to be wary of.)
posted by Happydaz at 10:25 PM on August 2, 2004

Considering that he is in Atlanta, the only chance of the local news covering this is if he is black and can work some racial overtones into it. Besides, Clark Howard gets so many consumer complaints, a minor inconvenience like this would never bubble up above legitimate rip-offs.
posted by mischief at 11:07 PM on August 2, 2004

I would also add that you might want to rent a truck, shoot the movers, put them in the back, and then drive the truck through the front of thier corporate headquarters.

This sort of over the top violence might make the next scammer think twice. Take one for the team.

(this is a joke, I don't condone violence. Don't actually do this.)
posted by pissfactory at 4:26 AM on August 3, 2004

Document your experience fully, and send it to the BBB, newspapers, teevee stations, esp. those w/ consumer reporters, and anybody else you can think of. Post it to your blog. Get a blog just for this event if you have to. You are unlikely to get any personal benefit, but enough people will see it to hurt them financially, to say nothing of saving them from a similar experience, and maybe the good will come back to you.

If you can organize a class action lawsuit, so much the better.
posted by theora55 at 6:52 AM on August 3, 2004

Just firebomb their offices.
posted by angry modem at 7:19 AM on August 3, 2004

Where on the internet did you post that you needed movers? Post something else, over and over again, about what a scam they are and link to the URL that you did above. Post in anything that might be read around your area. It won't get you anything but it will feel good.
posted by aacheson at 10:02 AM on August 3, 2004

This kind of suit is what small claims court is for. Petition the movers for the money, and if/when they refuse, file against them in small claims court. You may have to appear in court, but if you go and they don't, you automatically win (and if you get in front of a judge the case as you described it sounds winnable to my non-lawyer self).
posted by werty at 10:42 AM on August 3, 2004

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