Wisconsin man's belongings held hostage by moving company

Wisconsin man's belongings held hostage by moving company

MADISON, Wis. - A Wisconsin man is out almost $10,000 and all of his belongings after trusting a company to help him make the move to Florida. 

Chris Baumann was born and raised in Wisconsin. When family circumstances sent him packing for Florida, he decided to sign with a moving company based in Virginia that had excellent reviews online. 

The company, Titan Moving and Storage, originally quoted him around $6,000 when Baumann talked to a salesman over the phone. When movers showed up at his home, the price doubled. 

"We agreed to it," he said. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think someone was going to steal my property." 

Baumann paid $9,000 of his now $12,000 bill up front, but Titan wouldn't take his credit card. The company asked him to wire transfer the money instead. 

"Operating within good faith, we went with it," Baumann said.  

After weeks of waiting, back-and-forth calls and what Baumann considered delay tactics, his family is still without their stuff -- upward of $100,000 worth of belongings, many of them priceless. 

When News 3 tried to call Titan, the company refused to share any information about Baumann's case. 
Baumann admits there were red flags, but he was in a hurry to get to Florida and let them slide at the time. 

The Department of Trade and Consumer Protection shared these red flags you should catch if you consider a move. 

  • Always receive an estimate from a moving company in person instead of over the phone.
    • In Baumann's case, his estimate went from $6,000 to around $12,000 when movers showed up at his home and loaded up his belongings, making it harder for him to say no. 
  • Check what kind of truck the company is using. Most reputable companies own their own vehicles and won't use a rental.
    • Baumann noted that Titan used a rented Penske truck to move his belongings. 
  • Always get three estimates, to compare costs and companies. 
  • If you're moving across state lines, check that the company is registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
  • Do a quick Google search of the company. Does the company have a physical address?
    • When Baumann typed Titan's address into Google Maps, it showed an empty warehouse. 

Titan's latest communications with Baumann indicate his belongings are in storage somewhere in Indianapolis, but employees won't tell him the address. Baumann isn't sure that sharing his story publicly will get this company moving to give him back his stuff, but he's hoping it will at least give other families a warning. 

"Had I seen stories like this over and over and paid attention  when this move came, I would not have made these mistakes," he said. "I would've trusted my instincts."

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