State regulators fine moving company for failing to report purchase of Kent office

For the second time in seven months, state regulators have issued a penalty assessment against the owners of Bekins Northwest (Bekins) for failing to report the acquisition of a Spokane-based moving company that also operates an office in Kent.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) found that Kris and Lauri O’Bannon, owners of Northwest Movers Central and Northwest Movers, failed to file an application with the UTC before acquiring Action Moving Services, Inc. on Nov. 22. This is a violation of Washington Administrative Code which requires carriers to file an application prior to acquiring control of a regulated company.

The UTC is assessing penalties against Bekins in the amount of $100 per day from Nov. 22, 2013, to Jan. 31, 2014, resulting in a total penalty of $7,000 for failing to file an application.

On Aug. 16, 2013, the O’Bannons were assessed a $4,700 penalty in Docket TV-131530 for failing to file an application when they purchased Bekins.

“Violations of this rule are potentially harmful to the public,” said Sharon Wallace, the UTC’s Assistant Director for Consumer Protection. “Without accurate ownership information about a regulated company, we can’t assist consumers with complaints or claims; we can’t provide an accurate complaint history or permit status; and we can’t ensure that a company is following laws related to proper insurance, driver drug-testing or vehicle safety.”

The company has 15 days to do one of the following: pay the amount due, request a hearing to contest the violations, or request mitigation of the penalty.

The UTC is the state’s watchdog agency in charge of enforcing consumer protection and safety regulations for more than 200 residential moving companies operating within the state. Movers must charge appropriate rates, carry proper insurance and keep their vehicles safely maintained. The commission does not regulate interstate moving companies.

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