A Whangarei couple have spent three months sleeping on a mattress on the floor as they battle to settle an insurance claim after some of their furniture was damaged beyond repair during a move.

Cancer patient Ann Hermans, 41, and her partner Brendan Woods, 50, who suffers spinal problems, paid moving company Allied Pickfords to shift their furniture north from the Kapiti Coast in June.

However, they say when the moving truck arrived at their new home, furniture was broken, dented, water-damaged and nine boxes were missing.

Allied Pickfords - owned by Australian-based company Sirva - does not deny the damage, but spokesman Tony Marriott said the couple had delayed the process and were trying to claim for more than it was worth for emotional stress and "threatening" to approach media.


Bank records and other documents show the couple - who are unable to work due to their conditions - paid $9235 for the service, including $2307 for insurance that was "replacement cover regardless of the age of the item". The total insured sum was $99,745 for 297 items.

Mr Marriott said the damage was about $25,000, but Ms Hermans believes it to be more like $70,000 - plus extra for lost items, medical bills and emotional damages.

Ms Hermans claims items were not wrapped as promised and arrived broken, scraped or dented. There was also water damage to goods and the box containing their computer was dropped on the ground, she said.

Pieces of the couple's wooden slat bed base were snapped, so they had to sleep on a mattress on the floor.

She also felt she was not given enough time to properly check everything before she signed documents noting damage.

Ms Hermans has been battling leukaemia since 2009 and Mr Woods has had one spinal fusion.

Their sleeping arrangements and the stress of the ordeal was affecting their health, she said.

Mr Marriott said: "We totally accept that there was damage and we are very disappointed with that. It is very unusual for us to get that level of damage."

He said the process was slowed by the couple taking a month to return their claim forms in July and an independent valuer had to travel from Auckland to make assessments.

The offer of a $10,000 "partial settlement" to cover some items was declined by the couple, who then "threatened" to report the company to police and media if it did not pay the total insured amount plus extra for pain and suffering.

Ms Hermans denied she was threatening the company and said they had a right to report stolen goods to police and to negotiate for the settlement price. Emails seen by the Herald showed the offered price was lower than quotes provided by furniture stores.

Consumer NZ said the couple have rights under the Carriage of Goods and Consumer Guarantees Acts which entitles customers to claim for damages to goods. They could also take action, though subject to costs, through the civil court or lay a complaint with the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman at no cost.