A couple from Mahone Bay, N.S., says they learned the hard way to do some checking before booking a moving company.

Natalia and Michael Ciszek hired Nationwide Van Lines of Mississauga, Ont., to move their furniture to Nova Scotia from Richmond, Va. Almost immediately after the moving van arrived, things started to go wrong.

"It was a not a good feeling," said Natalia Ciszek.

'He locked his keys in the truck'

For starters, she said, the truck was marked Discount, not Nationwide Van Lines.

"He got there late. He locked his keys in the truck and I had to walk around and ask the neighbours for a wire hanger so he could open it."

He's only human, Ciszek thought.

What really mattered, she figured, was getting her furniture delivered at a mutually agreeable price. That didn't happen.

$1,400 estimate, $4,469 invoice

When she originally booked the Nationwide Van Lines in late March, Ciszek said she was emailed an estimate of $1,400 based on about 450 kilograms. That sounded about right to the Ciszeks.

They said they had two mattresses, some kitchenware, one dresser, some clothes for the two of them and their small children, and some toys.

The price was just an estimate though. Their furniture had to be properly weighed and after that they'd get a proper invoice with a precise weight and cost.

Getting that precise weight took about a month and a half.

A few days after the truck left their home in Richmond, an invoice for $4,469 arrived — more than three times the cost of the original estimate.

Red flags

After that, the Ciszeks started to take a closer look at their bill.

The first red flag was the weight.

According to documents emailed by Nationwide to the Ciszeks, the empty van was weighed on Feb 27 — a full month before they even booked Nationwide for the move.

The weight with their furniture was even more suspicious.

According to the same documents, their belongings were weighed in Mississauga on March 30. That's the same day the truck was packed in Richmond.

The Ciszeks say it didn't leave their home until after 7 p.m. So how, they wondered, did the driver pull off a 10-hour drive in less than five hours?

"There is just no physical way he got to Mississauga that same day," Ciszek said.

No explanation from company

Officials at Nationwide said they would check on the timeline with their drivers.

The company has not explained to the Ciszeks, or CBC News, the details of where and when the truck was weighed, or the timeline. 

While their furniture sat in storage in Mississauga, the Ciszeks moved into a basement apartment in Mahone Bay in late April.

The couple came to an agreement with Nationwide that their furniture would arrive in Nova Scotia on May 12.

'Everything was so awkward'

The Ciszeks agreed to drive to Enfield, N.S., from Mahone Bay where a truck carrying their furniture would be weighed and both parties would be on hand to witness it.

"Honestly, everything was so awkward," Ciszek said about her encounter with Nationwide in Enfield.

"Just before we got [to Enfield], they called me to say there is no weight station there and that we should go home and we'll just make a deal and say it's $3,500," Ciszek said.

Weigh station fiasco

She called the government weigh station in Enfield on her own and sure enough, it existed. And staff there were more than happy to weigh the truck.

"I would do a lot more research if I could. I'd be a lot more careful when I'm booking." - Natalia Ciszek

Finally, Ciszek said, as the truck was about to pull onto the weigh scale the driver offered yet another deal.

"He said, '$2,500 and we will drive to your house and we won't waste any more time.'"

Ciszek declined the offer and insisted on weighing the truck.

Broken items

Turns out it weighed 816 kilograms. The final bill was $2,300 — half the invoiced price from Nationwide.

The Ciszeks said much of their kitchenware ended up broken, and one item, a child's tent, is missing.

Ciszek said she's glad it's finally settled, but in the future she'll do her homework.

"I would do a lot more research if I could. I'd be a lot more careful when I'm booking," she said.

Turns out the Better Business Bureau is also trying to find out more information about Nationwide Van Lines.

No BBB rating

Peter Moorhouse, CEO of the BBB's Atlantic chapter, said the company doesn't have a Better Business Bureau rating.

"The BBB contacted the business by telephone to update the address but the business refused and currently that business has no rating," Moorhouse said. 

"That would reflect the fact that the Kitchener, Ont., BBB is probably trying to do a lot more investigative work with this company right now."

Meanwhile, a man named Steven whose number is listed on the Ciszek's invoice took CBC's calls about that family's concerns, but refused to give us his last name.

He did say a mistake was made at a weigh scale.

"We scale tens of twenties of clients every day and it happens," he said. "Mistakes happen."