A mother who moved her family from Alberta to Nova Scotia earlier this summer is getting her possessions back from a moving company after telling CBC News about how her furniture was being held hostage.

Jaime Hatt and her two daughters, nine-year-old Emma Loates and seven-year-old Nevaeh Loates, never thought they'd be furnishing their new home from the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank.

After seven years in Calgary, they came home to Nova Scotia on July 1 so Hatt could return to school for a public relations course.

They've arrived, but their furniture is in limbo.

"It's been really weird," said Neveah.

"We'd have to wear the same thing over and over again and we had to sleep on the floor," said Emma.

The family hasn't seen their possessions since they were loaded onto the moving truck June 25.

Hatt said the moving company estimated it would be $1,800 for the haul. But she said on arrival, Troy Moving demanded almost $3,000 more.

The company said the shipment was thousands of pounds over their weight estimate.

"I had a love seat, a chair, girls’ bunk beds, their twin mattresses, and their dresser, and my mattress. No headboard or anything like that," said Hatt.

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Jaime Hatt was handed a moving bill for $4,650. Almost $3,000 more than the original quote. (CBC)

"They were so off to begin with. When you give someone a quote or an estimate that person budgets for that estimate. They could have been honest with me up front."

The owner of Troy Moving said the company told Hatt upfront the bill could in a range between about $2100 and $4700 dollars. 

"The consumer had never mentioned that she was not able to pay for the moving costs but rather confirmed shipping," said owner Elena Balduk in an email.

BBB warns about disreputable moving companies

Hatt took to Kijiji appealing for donations and warning other consumers about the company.

In the last year, the Better Business Bureau has received 30 complaints about Troy Moving.

John Levi, president of the Canadian Association of Movers, said they have also received complaints.

"Very often if a consumer doesn't get a quote from a reputable company, yeah, that happens," he said.

The Ontario-based company is governed by that province's Consumer Protection Act, which says the the final charge can’t be more than 10 per cent of the quote.

The industry said Hatt should never have received a bill for $4,650.

After the story aired on Tuesday morning, Balduk contacted CBC and said the company will return Hatt's items and only charge her the $1,800 flat rate.

"Also, the storage facility has incurred storage costs on top of the shipment cost. This we will pay and not charge the consumer," said Balduk.

"Troy Moving and Storage is a very honest company."

Hatt said she plans to donate the furniture she received Monday back to the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank once her own possessions are returned.

Protect yourself

  • Blair Landry at Thompson's Moving says if you want to know if the company is reputable, a starting point can be a Google Maps search of the company address. Potential customers could look at the satellite view and ask: Are there trucks in the yard? Do they have a warehouse?
  • Contact BBB and Canadian Association of Movers to assess companies
  • Get at least three estimates in writing by someone who has inspected the items
  • Phone estimates should include thorough discussion about what's in each room and if the cost covers unpacking, storage
  • and claims settlement
  • Ensure movers are aware of special items or other impediments that could affect estimate
  • Move valuables such as jewellery or artwork yourself
  • Before signing contract, check to see if company is bonded and insured.
  • Ensure you have moving insurance with replacement value protection not depreciated value.
  • Find out if mover is certified by WCB to avoid paying for injured employees.
  • Take photos of your possessions.