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U-Haul, MovingHelp.com fined by Florida after 10 News Investigators story

7:02 AM, Apr 26, 2012   |    comments
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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - Following a 10 News Investigators report into its affiliate website, MovingHelp.com, U-Haul was cited by the State of Florida for breaking laws regarding household movers.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DOACS), which regulates in-state and household movers to give consumer valuable protections, released its investigation two months after the first story aired on 10 News.

The 10 News Investigators exposed how MovingHelp.com was pushing unlicensed movers on customers, putting consumers at risk. The day labor is available to help load, unload, or drive rental trucks.

But with no licenses, there was no oversight of their activity, no background checks, and no property insurance in case items get broken or go missing.

"There was a registration violation," said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam. "(U-Haul) has been issued an administrative letter and they...can either request a hearing or pay the fine."

U-Haul was fined just $1,000 for failing to comply with Florida laws, but the fine will start to grow if they continue to resist the regulation from DOACS. State law allows a maximum fine of $5,000 for unlicensed moving activity, but it is not clear if other legal options would be on the table for the state.

The DOACS investigation echoed much of what the 10 News report found, but included a claim from Randal Viggiani, the owner of "Smart Move," that he was terminated from MovingHelp.com because he was "too large" for the director.

"Because Smart Move had its own truck and a license," said the DOACS report, "they were too large to be part of Moving Helper.  Viggiani told (Moving Helper's manager) that he had to be licensed and maintain a truck to be in business (in Florida).  Despite many attempts to contact and work...he was never able to work with them again."

10 News spoke to representatives from U-Haul on Wednesday, but they did not provide comment for the story.

Find 10 News Investigator Noah Pransky on Facebook or follow his updates on Twitter. Send your story tips to noah@wtsp.com.

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