Two people who said their furniture was held as ransom by a moving company have been reunited with their belongings — more than six months after a move to Ontario from Nova Scotia.
Kim and Dave Lague hired Montreal-based Mega Moving and Storage last August to move and store their belongings, while the couple relocated from Halifax to southern Ontario.
The company, they said, quoted them a price of $1,695 for the moving and three months’ storage while they looked for a new home in Chatham, Ont.
Dave Lague said that when he contacted the company to give them the new address, he was told Mega Moving’s prices had gone up and that he now owed them thousands more.
Eight months and $5,000 later, the couple still did not have their things — until CBC News found the truck in a Montreal-area leasing company’s parking lot, where it had been sitting since December.
The Lagues have been living out of suitcases while staying with a relative in Welland, Ont., after their deal on a house in Chatham fell through.
Kim said specialized medical equipment the couple bought after she suffered a stroke was on the moving truck.
"I stressed to them from the start, you have all my medical stuff that helps me live my daily life," Kim said in February. "I even got to the point where I wrote an e-mail and said you can keep the money, furniture, clothes … please give us our private personal stuff and walk away. These people just have no concept of what they've done!"
'I can’t wait to sleep in my own bed and put on my clothes.' - Kim Lague
In mid-November, the Lagues received an email from Mega Moving saying that if they paid $4,000 in cash, they would return 80 per cent of the couple’s belongings. Desperate to have their things returned, they complied.
Yet nothing was returned, least of all in the time delay the company promised.
Couple's belongings found
According to Quebec's business registry, Mega Moving and Storage is owned by Fehmi Yasar of Brossard, on Montreal’s South Shore. The business is also listed as having an on-island address.
Protect yourself from rogue movers by following these steps, outlined by the Canadian Association of Movers:
- Do your homework by researching online and reading reviews of the company.
- Call the Better Business Bureau and ask the company for references.
- Never pay cash.
When Ali Pazouki, owner of Elegance Leasing in Montreal's Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood, was asked by Mega Moving’s owners to hold onto their moving truck while they sorted out some financial troubles, he didn’t realize exactly what it entailed.
Pazouki said Mega Moving had leased a truck from his company over the past two or three years. He said he knew the owners personally, as well.
“They were past due on their payments. Because it’s a big truck and the insurance was due and the plate was expiring, we offered them to bring it us and [put it in] storage and leave it with us for the time being, so they can update their payments,” Pazouki said.
He added that Mega Moving told him there were some items in the truck that belonged to a client.
Pazouki agreed to keep the truck in the parking lot of his NDG business.
But then Longueuil police called, tipping Pazouki off to the fact that the couple whose stuff was in the truck were none too pleased.
Pazouki said he decided to inform CBC News that he had the Lagues’ belongings, rather than prolong the matter even more.
“We told them we are in possession of the truck, we are in possession of the stuff in the truck," he said. "If everybody give us a hand we can bring the parties together …. Thanks to the media, it’s happened!”
When Jim Carney, the president of the Canadian Association of Movers and the owner of Rawlinson Moving and Storage, caught wind of the Lagues’ plight, he decided to extend a generous offer.
Carney said he would return the couple’s items — free of charge — once the original truck was located.
On Monday, he made good, delivering to the Lagues their long-lost belongings.
“I never thought this day would come. I can’t wait to sleep in my own bed and put on my clothes,” Kim said through smiles and tears.
The Lagues had some suggestions for Canadians planning big moves.
“Get a U-Haul and and hire your own movers!” Kim exclaimed.
“Or better yet, don’t move at all,” Dave said.