Can You Trust Your Moving Company?

Act 5: Beware of rogue moving companies inflating prices and holding your items hostage.
3:00 | 03/07/14

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Transcript for Can You Trust Your Moving Company?
"20/20" continues with Matt Gutman. Reporter: Tonight, "20/20" viewers are sharing their hour row stories about moving. Isa complains -- They gave a quote in the beginning, jacked it up $1,800 at the end. Tara says -- I waited 65 days from date promised. Lived in empty house 65 days. Those furious complaints of rip-offs, of horrible service, of "Stress to the max," were just another day at the office for this guy. How often would customers call you and complain? That was a daily occurrence. Reporter: Jason Raffa spent nearly five years as a customer service agent in the moving industry. He confesses the process can be a minefield of potential rip-offs, especially if you hire a low-cost mover through a broker. So tell me the types of scams that you've seen? The most part of the scamming is from the price inflation, from weight, packing. Reporter: Raffa says watch out, your initial estimate can turn out to be a low-ball number that gets pumped up once the company has your stuff. I have actually seen movers come in close to 10 grand more than what they were estimated. Reporter: This is the kind of scam that goes on all across the country? Unfortunately, yes, sir. Reporter: J.j. Stroh of the Arizona department of weights and measures alerted us to the case of 81-year-old Kathleen Kennedy, who claims she got scammed when she moved from Burbank, California, to Mesa, Arizona. Stroh says rogue movers hiked the price of her recent move not once, not twice, but three times, demanding an additional $1,400 for extras like fuel, packing, redelivery and storage. And so the price can go from $775 to $2,600. Yes, sir. Reporter: And Stroh says ever since the client refused to pay the jacked-up price the company has kept her stuff. So what does she have with her? Basically nothing. Reporter: It's stories like that which have Felicia Karl of Guttenberg, New Jersey, sweating bullets about her upcoming move to Houston, Texas. So what are the nightmare scenarios that you've heard about? Number one, delayed. Number two, drivers only want cash. Reporter: And Raffa says that's not all she should be worrying about. You never know who's going to walk through that front door. Reporter: Take Andy T. Bueno, a mover with prior convictions for assault and criminal trespass and a recent bust in Texas for shaking down clients. Believe it or not, I have actually heard boxes being unpacked. Reporter: Taking out valuables. Looking for jewelry, things like that. Reporter: Or how about taking a porn break? These New York movers, recorded on hidden camera, couldn't resist ogling a stash of smut they discovered under this couch. One by one they all take their turn. In fairness, it's not a crime to look. What's the worst thing you've ever heard movers do? The worst thing has to do with a $10,000 persian rug. And the mover got upset and did his thing on her rug, a number two on her rug. And uh -- Reporter: Number two. Number two. Reporter: Do you know anything about the person who's driving your stuff to Texas? I got his phone number, that's all I know. Reporter: "20/20" agreed to pay for Felicia's move. She heads off to Texas. A day later, she suddenly gets a call, her mover says he's five days ahead of schedule. She scrambles and puts the pedal to medal driving from Tennessee to Texas, more than 1,000 miles, in less than 13 hours. Don't try this at home. The next morning -- Amazingly, I should be receiving my furniture and stuff today. Very exciting. Reporter: That's when Felicia's luck runs out. What kind of big problems? The well? What exploded? Reporter: Felicia's driver tells her his truck is broken down in Louisiana. I mean, is this going to cost me anything else -- not good. Reporter: Her first fear has come true -- delay. Well, there goes my peace of mind. Reporter: Felicia doesn't need the aggravation. She's starting a new job in just two days and needs her stuff to arrive. It could be anywhere. It could be days. It could be gone! Reporter: After four days sitting in Louisiana, the truck is on the move again, and the driver demands that Felicia be in Houston the following morning to meet him. But just before he's scheduled to arrive there's another delay. Okay, so basically what happened is it just died again? Or did you have another explosion? Reporter: The driver's truck has broken down again, and Felicia Karl is furious. I've taken off this morning so I could get my furniture, and it's not here. It's just very frustrating. Reporter: Finally, five days and ten hours after Felicia was first told to meet the truck -- He's on the move. My stuff is on the move. Reporter: The moving van pulls into Felicia's driveway, and despite all her worries her mover does not hit her up for more money. So what do you need from me? Check. Mover may show up, everything's perfect, and the cost that was estimated. But they still sat, inconvenienced. Reporter: Those delays were a huge inconvenience, but on balance Felicia may have been one of the lucky ones. In the meantime, Kathleen Kennedy's stuff is still being held hostage, and we headed to Los Angeles to find out why. This lady's belongings were essentially hijacked, the feds say, for 2 1/2 months. We are just trying to figure you out why that was. That's not what happened. Reporter: At first, no one wanted to talk to us at this moving company. Honestly, we're just trying to get your side of the story. We were met with slammed doors. Okay. This is Joe. Who's Joe? We were then referred to the company's attorney. You say they have nothing to hide, but they've been slamming doors on us all day. I hope it's true, thank you. The company denies any wrongdoing and claims Kathleen agreed to the higher price. But just 30 minutes later, the company assures us the moving truck is headed to Kathleen's new home in Mesa, Arizona, right away. So, they're in Mesa? Sure enough, a moving truck magically appears just hours later at the destination, delivering Kathleen's stuff, now charging only slightly more than the original estimate. We have the actual inventory of what's on the truck. Reporter: J.j. Stroh and his men are on the scene, and he wants to know how this simple west to east move wound up going south. These are all violations and they are all warnings. This document revised suspicious estimate with the inflated price. This is the one we're discarding. The original nonbinding agreement was changed by the movers. That's illegal to be done under federal law. Reporter: You may be wondering, where is Kathleen in all of this? Unfortunately, she had a fall. She's recovering in a hospital, but the good news is, when she does come home, her stuff will be here after 2 1/2 months. Feels good? I think it does. Based on ABC's phone, Mrs. Kennedy now has all of her furniture here in her apartment and life hopefully will get back to Normal quickly. Own

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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