Lost in transit: Couple reels as removalists disappear
WHAT was supposed to be a fun move from Bendigo, Victoria back to their home town in Bundaberg, has turned into a stressful and ongoing nightmare for local couple Michael and Ella Sommer Liverton.
The husband and wife duo had plans to return home after living interstate for three years, but when they arrived at their front door they were without any of their possessions.
Mr Sommer Liverton said the removalist company, Interstate Relocation Specialists, had failed to show up.
"That was on November 1. I had organised to be in Bundaberg at the house to meet to removalist company and they were a no show," he said
"To this day, we still have not received anything."
Before the big move, the couple shopped around for different removalist quotes.
"Interstate Relocation Specialists were one of the cheapest, at around $2400, so we decided to go with them," Mr Sommer Liverton said.
"We had arranged for them to take most of what we own to Bundaberg for us while we road tripped back. Our stuff has never shown up."
Mr Sommer Liverton said countless phone calls and emails had been made to the company and its owner Christopher Boyce.
"First it was just excuse after excuse. He said he had done his back in and then he said he had blown a head gasket and then hurt his shoulder. Now he has just gone off the grid," he said.
The couple contacted police who passed on details to the Office of Fair Trading and an investigation is currently under way.
Mr and Mrs Sommer Liverton are now without a properly set-up home as the removalist truck not only contained their furniture, but items of great importance.
"It is more about the sentimental value, all of the things we have accumulated together over the years. Things like photos, marriage certificates, birth certificates. It wasn't just our furniture, it was our worldly possessions, even all of our clothes. We have been living out of a couple of little suitcases," Mr Sommer Liverton said.
Mr Sommer Liverton said he and his wife had done did some digging of their own and found out that it wasn't the first situation that Interstate Relocation Specialists had been involved in.
"We put up a post on Facebook about what had happened and it went viral. We had people contacting us from everywhere saying that they had been in similar situations with the same company," he said.
"Some people have told us that they eventually received their stuff up to four months late and damaged. We just don't know, it is a waiting game. Should we start rebuilding our home and our life or keep waiting?"
An Office of Fair Trading spokesman confirmed to the NewsMail that the NSW Fair Trading had issued a public warning about the trader, Christopher Boyce, in the past.
The couple have received donations and support from friends and loved ones and said they were grateful for the kindness they had been shown.
"Our friends and family have been great. Furniture Court have also donated a bed to us that turned up yesterday. We are overwhelmed with the help we have received," Mr Sommer Liverton said.
"You have to keep hope. The last thing we heard was that our things were in a storage facility. We are digging into that ourselves because no one else can really help us. It is really up to us."
An Office of Fair Trading spokesman said it was important to research before signing anything or handing over any money.
"You need to make sure you have the right insurance cover to suit your needs. Removalists are not required by law to provide insurance for your goods during the move. If you are unhappy with the performance of a service and have been unable to resolve the matter directly with the trader, you can lodge a complaint with the OFT at http://www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading."
The NewsMail tried to contact Interstate Relocation Specialists but the phone line was not available.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the couple on behalf of their family and friends.
If you would like to donate to help Mr and Mrs Sommer Liverton rebuild their lives and home, visit https://dm2.gofund.me/nyed55w4.