Two N.J. moving companies accused of attempting to 'bait and switch' customers, then holding belongings hostage
Published: Thursday, May 10, 2012, 11:31 AM
TRENTON — State authorities have filed suit against two New Jersey moving companies that enticed customers with low-cost estimates and then held their belongings hostage for jacked up prices and — in one case — sex.
Progressive Movers of Paterson and ABC Packing Services of Lodi were ordered Tuesday by a state Superior Court judge to shut down and return property without payment pending the outcome of the lawsuit, filed by the state Attorney General's Office.
The state has received 87 complaints from consumers who said they were victims of the predatory "bait-and-switch" tactic, the office said in a news release. No other companies have as many complaints against them, the office said.
“This action stands as a warning to predatory movers, and a reminder that consumers should learn as much as they can about a moving company, before trusting its workers with their valued property," Eric Kanefsky, acting director of the state Division of Consumer Affairs, said in a statement.
The companies allegedly required customers to sign blank or incomplete forms, and then filled in the blanks to add exorbitant charges that were unjustifiable or unwarranted, the office said.
The added charges inflated the total price of each move anywhere from $500 to $4,940, the office said. The average total price of $1,400 was more than 500 percent above an original $210 quote.
When customers refused to pay, the companies locked up their belongings, refused to return them and, on one occasion, demanded sex in return for reducing the price, the office said.
Authorities said that on several occasions, the companies drove away with customers' property, refused to return it for days, and when they did, many items were missing or damaged.
Progressive Movers advertised under several names — including Modern One Versatile Expert Relocation Service, M.O.V.E.R.S., and Modern M.O.V.E.R.S. — and is owned and operated by Konstantin Egorov, the office said.
Although consumers contracted with Progressive Movers, they later were presented with charges for packing services and materials allegedly demanded under the name of a company they had never heard of before the moves , the office said.
That company, ABC Packing Services, owned by Yevgeniy “Eugene” Piksun, was not licensed to perform moving services in New Jersey , the office said.
The state alleges that Egorov and Piskun used aliases when interacting with consumers. Egorov used the first names “Greg” or “Kyle”, and Piskun used the name “Sam,” the office said.
The two men also allegedly gave documents to consumers using the name State Wide Box Company, Inc., even though that company name is not registered to them, and the actual registered business by that name has no relation to Egorov or Piskun, the office said.
The state's lawsuit seeks full restitution for affected consumers, as well as civil penalties and other costs.
The companies and their owners could not immediately be reached for comment.