Pennsylvania Attorney General Jerry Pappert has filed a consent agreement that permanently bars the owner of a Bucks County-based moving and storage company from conducting business in the Commonwealth. Judgments entered against the defendants total more than $114,000 in consumer restitution, civil penalties and investigation costs.
Pappert said his Bureau of Consumer Protection entered into a consent agreement with Andrew Bassaner and his business A. Bassaner Moving & Storage Ltd., formerly located in Bensalem. The agreement resolves a 2000 lawsuit that accused the defendants of violating the state’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.
According to the suit, the defendants in 1999 and 2000 intentionally and routinely used intimidation, coercion, deception and other tactics to overcharge or take advantage of dozens of consumers located throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
In many cases, consumers reportedly complained that prior to unloading their personal belongings the defendants presented them with a bill that was two or three times above the estimated costs. Failure to pay the inflated prices resulted in the defendants threatening to take consumers’ property to a warehouse and be charged a sizeable storage and return fee.
The lawsuit also claimed that the defendants:
– Failed to reimburse consumers for missing or damaged property.
– Coerced consumers into signing documents releasing them of liability.
– Falsely created problems or deceived consumers about labor, insurance and other issues in order to increase costs.
“The allegations in this case were particularly egregious because Mr. Bassaner was entrusted with handling consumers’ personal belongings and property,” Pappert said. “Our legal action ensures that these defendants are forever banned from doing business in the moving and storage industry in Pennsylvania.”
Pappert said along with forfeiting their right to conduct business in the state, the defendants face judgments of more than $59,000 in restitution, $35,000 in civil penalties and $20,000 in investigation costs.
Bassaner was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to criminal charges in Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia. He was also ordered, along with two other defendants, to pay more than $1 million in restitution to approximately 70 victims.
The consent agreement was filed in Commonwealth Court and awaits court approval.
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