Tree-change nightmare: Elderly couple’s home contents sold off by removalist company

An elderly Bribie Island couple is fighting for compensation after a removalist sold off their belongings during their interstate move to Bega in NSW.

The removal company, Kent Removals & Storage, apologized and described the incident as the result of human error, but lawyers say the retirees would have to take $ 50,000 from their pension to help recover just some of the items.

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Retirees Gary and Lorraine Taylor, aged in their late 70s, moved from Queensland to Bega in southeast NSW one year ago, making the tree change after more than 60 years of marriage.

They packed all of their possessions, including furniture and sentimental belongings, into two removal trucks – one of which contained $ 120,000 worth of furniture they would never see again.

When Wridgways, the removalist company they had originally planned to use, went into liquidation in July 2021, Kent Removals & Storage took 160 of its clients – including the Taylors.

Kent Removals & Storage was also assisting court-appointed Liquidator Hall Chadwick to sell off Wridgways ‘assets, such as office furniture, and say there was confusion over one of the containers full of the Taylors’ belongings.

That container was accidentally sent to online auction company Grays Online where everything was auctioned off at a fraction of its value.

Retirees Gary and Lorraine Taylor are distraught over the nightmare move during which interstate removalists sold off their belongings. Credit: 7NEWS
Two containers left the Taylors’ Bribie Island home last year, holding a lifetime of belongings that they would never see again. Credit: 7NEWS

Gary told 7NEWS his $ 28,000 rug was sold off for around $ 200.

It has left the couple in limbo. Some of their furniture had multiple pieces which were split between the two moving containers, so much of what did arrive could not be assembled.

Couch cushions with no frame and a dressing table without its mirror are stacked up within the bare-walled Bega house that is still piled with boxes.

“We’ve been married for 60 years, and 60 years of our bloody furniture has just gone down the tube and nobody cares,” Gary told 7NEWS.

Lorraine spoke through tears as she told 7NEWS the incident was “very hard to describe”.

“It’s not believable what we’ve been through,” she said.

“Its been terrible for both of us, and for our family.”

The Taylors were told by their lawyer that they could take legal action to recoup some of their losses but it would cost the retirees $ 50,000.

That is money the couple would need to take from their retirement fund and something they cannot afford to do.

A year after their move the Taylors’ home in Bega is still largely empty. Credit: 7NEWS
Pieces of furniture were split between the two containers, which means some of what did arrive remains unassembled in their home. Credit: 7NEWS

Kent Removals & Storage CEO Steve Alves told 7NEWS: “Due to human error, one of the containers containing the effects belonging to Mr and Mrs Taylor was incorrectly sent to Grays Online for sale of the goods.”

Alves said the matter was only reported to him last Thursday and he has since apologized for the handling of the matter.

He said the matter had been referred to Kent’s insurers but that, “the matter was incorrectly internalized between Kent, Grays Online and Hall Chadwick with a view to establishing liability for this error”.

“As Kent Relocation Group contracted with Mr and Mrs Taylor and, irrespective of where the liability resides, Kent Relocation Group could and should have taken a lead role in this process and did not.”

Alves said the company “apologises for the way in which this matter has been handled”.

“Our team will focus on ensuring we support Mr and Mrs Taylor in any way we can to bring closure to this matter for them.

“In terms of the missing items, given the quantum of the potential claim, the matter has been referred to Kent’s insurers along with an instruction to ensure that the matter is expedited in a prompt, efficient and reasonable manner for Mr and Mrs Taylor”.

So far only 40 per cent of the moving charges have been refunded, but since the matter was escalated Alves said Kent Removals & Storage would work to refund 100 per cent of the moving charges.

As to whether they will see a refund of their $ 120,000 worth of lost furniture, they must wait for the companies’ insurance process to run its course to find out.

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