Edmonton·Go Public

Atlantic Van Lines customer pays mover 'under protest'

A single mother in Westlock, Alta., saw her belongings delivered today, more than a month after they were picked up by a moving company in Regina.

Many items missing or damaged, single mother claims

'I will never trust my belongings to be taken out of my sight again,' says Melanie Townsend, who had a bad experience with a moving company. (CBC)

A single mother in Westlock, Alta., saw her belongings delivered Wednesday, more than a month after they were picked up by a moving company in Regina.

Melanie Townsend paid the driver just over $2,000 in cash before he would begin unloading her property.

Atlantic Van Lines had reduced the bill from $3279.15, with the new amount still almost three times higher than the quote given Townsend before her property was loaded in February.

Townsend said her dispute with Atlantic is not over. She said she intends to file a claim with the government in Atlantic's home province for the value of the goods damaged, defaced or that failed to arrive.

It was the most dishonest transaction I've ever seen or heard of.- Melanie Townsend

"This experience has been terrible," Townsend told CBC's Go Public. "Without you guys getting involved to help me even get it to this point, I don't know where I would be.

"It was the most dishonest transaction I've ever seen or heard of."

The two men who arrived at Townsend's home declined to say who they worked for except to say they were contracted by Atlantic. The truck they drove was registered in B.C.

They left after taking 45 minutes to unload the truck.

"They left very quickly," Townsend said. "Nothing got put together and,as you can see, some of the stuff is very damaged."

Claims property defaced, missing

Although disassembly was included in Atlantic's written quote, reassembly was not. CBC News cannot say when the damage occurred. However, Townsend claims the damage occurred during the move.  

She said a cedar hope chest had part of the moulding torn off, a coffee table was broken, and several items were defaced by someone writing numbers on them with permanent marker.

Townsend said an antique floor safe had been unwrapped from its protective covering and had three of four hinges removed.

Two bins failed to arrive at all, she said.

"If it's a bin of towels that's worth $40, that's different than if it's jewelry, or purses and shoes that cost a lot more," she said.

Townsend said she is filing a complaint with the Government of Ontario, where the company is based.

Under Ontario law, a mover cannot charge more than 10 per cent above the contracted price unless the customer agrees, said Anne-Marie Flanagan, spokeswoman for Consumer Protection Ontario.

"But she needs to give permission. She needs to agree to the raised price," Flanagan said.

Atlantic Van Lines insists Townsend agreed when she signed the bill of lading, which stated the final price would depend on the actual weight of the load.

However, extra fees were added by Atlantic after Townsend signed, including the actual weight charges and a warehouse handling fee.

In an email Wednesday, Anita Kleitz, Atlantic's general operations manager, said "at this time we don't have any damage reports from Ms. Townsend and will address it with the client should she contact us one with one, per our normal procedures."

Townsend said she's through with moving companies.

"I will never trust my belongings to be taken out of my sight again," she said.

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