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Arizona bill 'moves' in on hostage loads

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3 On Your Side has captured a few confrontations between state investigators and moving companies.

"Stay there! Stay there! You get out of the truck now," screamed J.J. Stroh, a state investigator with the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures. The agency isn't around anymore but at the time we covered Vanessa Mendes' story in 2014, the agency regulated moving companies and Stroh was trying convince the movers to unload their truck.

3 On Your Side was on the scene at the time because Mendes told us that the movers wouldn't unload her belongings unless she forked over thousands of dollars more.

"The original estimate was for $4,700 and when they came to pick it up, it was $12,500," Mendes told us. 

Moving companies aren't supposed to do that, but many are getting away with it. So, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich helped draft a bill that will hopefully crack down on what's commonly referred to as "hostage loads."

"Some unscrupulous moving companies will move goods or items and when they get to the house they will not unload them unless that consumer pays them more money," Brnovich explained.

It's called House Bill 2145 and, among other things, it states a "... mover may not refuse to deliver a consumer's household goods..." unless you pay more money.

State Rep. Jeff Weninger is sponsoring the bill and says if it becomes law, it will give law enforcement more teeth to crack down against shady moving companies.

"Somebody's most stressful times of their lives, or one of the most stressful, which is moving, to have some bad movers or bad actors show up and hold your goods hostage is just unacceptable," Weninger said.

Brnovich agrees, saying it will put one more tool in their toolbox needed for prosecution.

"It will provide that if a police officer shows up and an unscrupulous mover is holding your goods hostage, they will be forced to allow you to get your goods," Brnovich said.

It's important to note that this law would only affect moves that are done within the state of Arizona. If a moving truck enters Arizona from another state, then federal guidelines would apply.

If this bill sails through the state House and Senate, it could be signed by the governor and become law within three to four months.

Copyright 2017 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

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Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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