I made a deposit payment to a moving broker but never signed the agreement. They are refusing to return my deposit. "Theft by unlawful taking" doesn't apply because I willingly gave them the deposit, neither does "theft by deception." This seems like it is some kind of theft, just trying to figure out what.

I live in Kentucky, the moving "broker" lists Chicago, IL as their main office.

Regarding an answer below about "damages", i.e. expenses incurred on my behalf, 1) they have no valid contract 2) I didn't wait until the day before the move. I notified them a few days after the deposit and that was well over a month before the move date.

  • 1
    In what county/state?
    – Ron Beyer
    May 20 at 13:29

This is not theft, this is a contract dispute. You gave them money, they promised to do certain things, the contract says what that is. I surmise that they wanted a deposit to cover their costs in further dealing with you (moving is more complicated and costly than buying a loaf of bread), so in walking away from the deal, you've economically damaged them to some amount. The deposit is "liquidated damages".

Your recourse is to sue them for that amount, because... Perhaps you didn't understand why you were giving them this deposit (an act that constitute some level of agreement), but any time you hand over a deposit, there is a circumstance under which you will not get that money back, and you have to understand what that circumstance is.

  • I understand that moving isn't as simple as buying a loaf of bread. But they have no VALID contract so if there are any "damages" that's their fault for spending money on my behalf without a valid contract. Without a contract, can it still be a "contract dispute?" May 20 at 17:11
  • 2
    Why do you think there is no valid contract? A contract is an agreement: you agreed to something, otherwise you would not have paid the deposit. Signatures are not mandatory for all types of contract (e.g. sale contracts for a taco). What does the piece of paper say about the deposit?
    – user6726
    May 20 at 17:44
  • As for the damages question, what exact service did you contract for?
    – user6726
    May 20 at 17:47
  • 1
    You might read this: fmcsa.dot.gov/protect-your-move/movers-vs-brokers
    – user6726
    May 20 at 17:48
  • 1
    @AndrewSteitz If you had no contract, how is this a deposit?
    – Studoku
    May 21 at 13:44

Perhaps two:

  1. Theft by unlawful taking could apply at the moment you requested return of the deposit. At that moment, they no longer have you permission to keep the money.

Ky Statute 514.030 "(a) Takes or exercises control over movable property of another with intent to deprive him thereof" https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/law/statutes/statute.aspx?id=42315

  1. Theft by deception is a more difficult argument. The argument there is that when the company accepted your deposit, they never planned on giving it back.

Ky Statute 524.040, "(1) A person is guilty of theft by deception when the person obtains property or services of another by deception with intent to deprive the person thereof. A person deceives when the person intentionally: (a) Creates or reinforces a false impression, including false impressions as to law,value, intention, or other state of mind;" https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/law/statutes/statute.aspx?id=19805

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