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Couple moves cross country to Racine, has dispute with moving company over belongings

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Moving, whether it's down the block or across the nation, takes time, patience and money.

One Arizona couple recently made a cross-country move back to southeastern Wisconsin, but the move has been more than they bargained for. 

When they found a house on the market that fit the needs, Gretchen Warner and Scott Schroder jumped at the opportunity to move from the Phoenix area back to Racine, closer to friends and family.

"Our best friends are here. So since we're both retired, we decided we'd move back, and it just it happened faster than we thought it would," Schroder said.

But their new home is looking a little bare.

"Fortunately, our friends lent us their TV and chairs, and we bought a microwave and a coffee maker. So that's how we've been living. And it looks like we're going to have to live that way for who knows how long," Warner said.

They had to move out of Arizona quickly and signed a contract with a Florida-based moving company called Safe Relocation, Inc., for about $6,800. The company subcontracted the work to Las Vegas-based Oasis Moving and Storage, but when Oasis movers showed up, Schroder said they asked him to pay $4,000 more than the original estimate. 

"I said, 'There's no way. I'm not going to pay that.' So he refused to load the truck," Schroder said.

So why were they asked to pay more? CBS 58 spoke with a representative from Oasis Moving and Storage on the phone. She would not identify her name but said Schroder and Warner originally were quoted as having 172 items, when in reality they had 300 items. 

"They literally had almost twice as much inventory. It's not rocket science," she told CBS 58.

The couple did sign a contract agreeing to about $4,000 more than the original estimate, but they dispute the idea that they had twice as much stuff.

The situation raises a few red flags for Jim Temmer, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin.

"I'm not surprised by the fact that this was a short window and a lot of other firms may have said, 'We can't do it,' and they said, "Sure, we'll do it," Temmer said.

The BBB's website shows Oasis has had 37 complaints filed against it in the last three years, and Safe Relocation has had 10 complaints since August of this year.

Temmer recommends having a moving company come to your house in person to give you an estimate to avoid inventory disputes.

"Showing up with the rental truck, showing up late, having an estimate done over the phone without an on-site visit -- all of these things are red flags," he said.

The couple has paid the moving companies about half of the $10,000 bill, but the Oasis employee said the truck won't be unloaded at their home in Racine until it's paid in full. 

"We don't even know where (our stuff) is," Schroder said. "That's the scary part."

Oasis said the couple's inventory is now in the delivery stage, meaning their stuff can be delivered anytime between the next two weeks. But until they pay the balance in full, Oasis said their stuff won't be unloaded from the truck. If Oasis has to continue to hold on to their belongings, they can be charged a storage fee.

Safe Relocation Inc., did not respond to CBS 58's phone calls or emails. 

The BBB also has tips for hiring a mover and trying to avoid common moving scams.

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