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AURORA, Colo.-- A disabled Aurora veteran thought a moving company was giving her a discount, but New-York-based Gold Star Moving ended up charging triple the original estimate.
So, Sonya Thomas reached out to Contact7's Jaclyn Allen for help.
In a video she recorded on her cell phone, Sonya Thomas is seen counting out hundred-dollar bills, later, calling it ransom money for everything she owns.
"They took advantage of me because they knew I was by myself," said Thomas, a disabled Navy veteran who just moved from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Aurora, Colo. and found Gold Star Moving, which promised a military discount and extra help for veterans.
"He told me because I was a disabled vet, pack what I could and they would help me pack the rest, that was the way he worded it," said Thomas, who said as soon as movers loaded half her things, the red flags started. "Every time I spoke to someone, the price went up."
The movers told her she had vastly underestimated how many belongings she had, pressuring her mid-move to sign a new estimate, even crossing out previous numbers on the contract. Later, when she told him she didn't have thousands extra, she said, they held her things hostage.
"When they told me they were going to take my stuff and sell it, I believed them," she said.
In the end, instead of the original $3,600 she had agreed to, she has shelled out more than $12,000 to move her three-bedroom townhome, borrowing money from family and taking out a bank loan.
So we called manager Tim Hood with Gold Star moving who said Thomas had far more furniture than she told them and then they couldn't initially pay the difference when they brought her things, which meant thousands more in "storage" charges.
The New-York-based company has had eight complaints this year with the federal regulators, including three classified as "Hostage," and the Better Business Bureau has also had three complaints this year.
"We have thousands of customers," said Hood. "I cannot make everyone happy."
Hood said he would not refund Thomas' money, even though he admitted the final price was nearly triple the original estimate.
"Unfortunately, because of law I cannot give her a refund or nothing," said Hood.
Federal Regulations require that movers have an arbitration program to resolve disputes about property loss and damage, and also disputes about whether the mover charges in addition to those collected at delivery must be paid.
The mover must agree to arbitration if your claim is less than or equal to $10,000. The mover may refuse to participate in mediation if your claim exceeds $10,000. In this event, your only option is to initiate legal action. There is often a fee charged to initiate an arbitration hearing, and it is split between you and the mover.
To research a moving company, learn how to protect your move or file a moving fraud complaint, click here.
"I don't want to see other people getting hurt," said Thomas, who wishes she had done more research. "Know who you're dealing with and make sure you read everything and don't let them add things on at the end."