State regulators have little authority over moving company that has a history of complaints

DENVER - Tammy Van Boening just moved in to her brand new home, but she hardly has a chair to sit on.

"All the boxes, you can see they're wet and crumbled," she says, walking through her garage. "These are all of our tables. They're destroyed." 

Her family's belongings were ruined while being stored by a local moving company.

"When I got here to take delivery of the first truck from storage, immediately you could see everything was gone. You could see the water," Van Boening said, fighting back tears. "Those crates were left out unprotected for the entire raining period for those two weeks, not covered or anything, and it wiped out our entire house." 

Josh Zygielbaum has a similar story.

Instead of happily arranging his new home, he is missing an entire section of his couch. Every room of his home contains furniture that has been broken, scuffed up, or is simply nowhere to be found. 

"With everything missing or damaged, it's up to $20,000," Zygielbaum said.

Both families used the same company -- King Moving & Storage -- which is also known as Neighbors Moving & Storage and Father & Son Movers. Van Boening and Zygielbaum both ended up with thousands of dollars in damage.

"They were holding our stuff hostage until I signed these waivers and releases," Zygielbaum said. He signed the paperwork because he didn't want to risk the movers leaving with his family's furniture.

Last year, the CALL7 Investigators also hired the company. With our hidden cameras rolling, it wasn't long before the movers tried to pull a fast one, by attempting to charge us an 18 percent "state moving tax" that in reality, does not exist. When we refused to pay the fake tax, the movers drove away with a truck full of our belongings, holding the goods hostage and refusing to budge on the price.

Company officials promised changes, and we've now learned, there were a few significant changes. They changed their company name and came under new ownership, but we found one thing is still the same -- the complaints keep piling up.

"In the last year, we've received eight complaints on this service," Ron Jack, Chief of the Transportation Division of the Public Utilities Commission said, adding that there aren't any other moving companies that come close to that number of complaints.

This year alone, King Moving & Storage has racked up $16,940 in fines. But because the company paid right away, the fines were cut in half to $8,470.

"The current law provides that if they pay 50 percent in 10 days, they're allowed to do that and basically they admit liability," Jack said. 

Jack says the PUC has more authority now than ever to shut down movers that don't pay their fines. But our investigation found, there's a lot the PUC can't do.

"If those violations occurred again, we can double the fines and then triple the fines," Jack said. 

However, as long as the moving company is able to pay those fines, the PUC cannot shut them down.

"The law limits us to acting when somebody does not pay the civil penalty," Jack said.

We also found that customers whose items are significantly damaged are out of luck too.

"With respect to damage, the commission has no jurisdiction. The legislature didn't give us authority to regulate damage. That becomes a civil matter. We've also heard of theft, but that's a criminal matter. It has to be dealt with through police," Jack said.

But Jack says he's hopeful the fines aren't just the "cost of doing business" for the company, and that this time will be different.

"We'll see what the future holds, but it appears they're making changes for the positive," Jack said.  

But are they really? The company's current CFO served federal time for drug charges, and was just released earlier this year. The company's new owner, Henry Aragon, was ordered to pay the State of Colorado $275,000 last year. The Colorado Attorney General said he was running "magazine-sales telemarketing companies" that "deceived and defrauded consumers" across the nation.

"One of the new owners, he won't even take phone calls now," Van Boening said.

Van Boening and Zygielbaum say King Moving has done nothing to resolve their claims, and they doubt they will ever be reimbursed by the company.

"No apologies. No 'We will make it right for you,'" Zygielbaum said. "I'd like to see them shut down."

But that may never happen, since the state agency in charge can only do so much.

"I think if we're going to have an oversight committee or an organization, it needs to actually provide oversight," Zygielbaum said. "If not, it's a waste of taxpayer dollars and it doesn't offer any protection whatsoever."

Aragon refused to interview with CALL7 Investigators for this story. In an email, his CFO blamed the customer's problems on previous management. We've also learned that in an effort to distance itself from the problems of the past, the company is changing its name again -- now going by "Go King" Moving & Storage.

UPDATE:

After the CALL7 Investigators started asking questions, King Moving decided to offer the Zygielbaums some assistance in repairing their damaged furniture. The family is still missing many of their belongings, and Josh Zygielbaum says no amount of furniture repair or replacement will make it right in his family's eyes.

King Moving has yet to assist the Van Boenings with repairing their damaged furniture.

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Related Links:

-BBB Advice: Hiring a mover

-USDOT guide to moving companies

-Moving out of state? Research movers

-Check company ratings with the BBB

-PUC mover rules

-File a complaint against a moving company

-Check a moving company's license

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If you have a news tip, or follow-up to this story, e-mail Keli Rabon. You can also connect with me on Facebook or through Twitter @KeliRabon.

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