Woman forced to move from AZ to WI without her belongings

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The price nearly doubled for an elderly woman looking to move to Milwaukee. She asked FOX6's Contact 6 for help, and learned a tough lesson in the process.

Carol Loewus moved to Milwaukee from Arizona, but couldn't afford the moving costs for her furniture.

"I have no way of how to come up with this money. No ideas," Loewus said.

Loewus found American Moving and Storage Services online -- a company based in Florida. She made a down payment of $502, and agreed to an estimate of close to $1,700 -- based on how much stuff she told them she needed to move.

When the truck arrived, Loewus says the price changed.

"Opened up the storage unit. He looked in there and he eye-balled it and he called me and he says 'you got like $3,000 worth of stuff in here, maybe $3,500.'  And I says 'how do you know, did you weigh it?'  'Oh no, I've been in this business a long time.  I can just look at it and tell you,'" Loewus said.

Unable to pay the adjusted amount, Loewus left her things in Arizona -- getting what furniture she now has from Craigslist and Goodwill.

"We live on social security. How do we save this money - come up with this money? I can't do another payday loan. I have nothing else to sell," Loewus said.

Loewus asked Contact 6 for help -- to at least get her $500 down payment back. So, Contact 6 worked with American Movers. Though a representative said Loewus was not eligible for a refund, the company has made an exception and has refunded Loewus' full deposit.

The Better Business Bureau says this is a classic complaint by consumers who don't know the rules of moving.

"Our complaint volume typically results from consumers who the move has been underestimated and the bill is for a lot more money," Randall Hoth with the Wisconsin BBB said.

Hot and the BBB take in complaints about moving companies all the time, and lists American Movers as having 64 complaints nationwide, and a C+ rating -- but Hoth says many of those complaints are from people just like Loewus.

"Understand that it's only an estimate.  When someone gets to a moving site, they have the right to say you've got a lot more that you didn't show me before that's part of this move," Hoth said.

And until she can come up with the funds to finance her full move, Loewus will keep hoping for an answer.

Contact 6 says: Don't make a snap decision on a moving company -- especially one you find online.

Also, make sure the company has a good reputation, offers insurance and has the appropriate licenses to operate.

Customers should get at least three estimates, and it's a good idea to ask if they will come look at your things before you spend any money -- so the price you pay is the one you expect.