KIYC: State consumer officials cite 29 unlicensed moving companies

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Twenty-nine unlicensed moving companies have been served with notices of violations, the result of a four-day sting operation conducted in April by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. Kane In Your Corner was there for the operation, along with a few other media representatives.

One after another, trucks owned or rented by unlicensed moving companies pull into an upscale neighborhood in Montville. They expect to find moving jobs, but encounter something very different.

“I'm an investigator with the Division of Consumer Affairs,” an undercover investigator explains over and over. “We're having an investigation going on right now with moving companies that are not registered with the state of New Jersey.”

Ryan Sichieri, owner Alpha Moving Services of Highland Lakes, seems surprised he needed to be registered. “I signed up for an LLC with a lawyer and he didn't tell me I had to be registered,” he says. “I go to school full-time and do this on the side so I can pay for my own schooling and pay for my car.”

Leon Sessions, who drives a truck belonging to Centurion Movers of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, says he did know moving companies had to be licensed, he just didn’t realize the one the he worked for was not. “[The owner] said he had his own company,” Sessions says. “I’ve been working for him for about a year and a half.” The owner, following in another car, declined to comment.

The unlicensed movers get little sympathy from the NJDCA. NJDCA Deputy Director Cindy Miller says her office gets complaints every year about moving companies holding customers’ belongings hostage while demanding higher prices than they initially quoted. She says the risk increases dramatically when a customer does business with an unlicensed mover.  

“You may get one guy with a truck and that one guy with a truck may have no experience moving your belongings, may have an ulterior motive moving your belongings, here today and then gone,” Miller says.

Of the 29 movers served with notices of violation, one faces a $5,000 fine as a repeat offender. The others face $2,500 fines for first offenses. 

If you’re considering hiring a mover, Kane In Your Corner offers some advice in conjunction with the NJDCA. Always check the company’s history; the NJDCA can tell you if a company is licensed, along with its complaint history. Always get a written estimate and, if possible, a guaranteed price. Beware of extra fees; all charges should be clearly spelled out. Report any damage promptly. And never sign a blank contract.

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