Inside Self-Storage Magazine 10/99: Ask The Waldmans

It's Not User-Friendly

DEAR WALDMANS: I love all the new computerized products for this industry, but I don't think the inventors ever try them out before placing them on the market. The security-system keypads I use at my facility seem to create a lot of griping. They are either too low or too high, depending on what kind of vehicle a tenant is driving at the time. It seems like a small thing for me to complain about, but my customers constantly nag me about this. Do you ever have this problem? What can I do to solve it?


DEAR PUZZLED: As trivial as it may seem, this is a realistic problem--I find myself grumbling about this very same issue. It was so exciting when we finally got to the point of using a keypad, because the manager no longer had to open and close the gates by hand. To be honest, though, we have had some problems with malfunctions of the automatic gate. The motor had to be replaced or maybe it needed some reconditioning. But through all of the malfunctions, we still prefer the keypad to opening and closing the gate by hand.

We, too, have had our share of complaints or problems. We have had the keypad post hit because tenants try to pull their car up closer to it. One of our tenants tried to get so close her car was sitting on the keypad. Needless to say, she never did open the gate that day. Instead, we were blamed for her mishap, and she wanted us to pay the repair bill.

I know from experience that when I go to the post office to mail a letter from the car, I seem to try and hang out the window to slide the mail through the opening. Frustrated, I have dropped the letters on the ground, had to open the door, get out of the car and slide the letters in again. Sometimes, I have put my car in reverse and then tried to get closer to the bin, hoping I would not rip off my outside mirror. Now, thinking about it, it would certainly be easier just to open the door, insert the mail and carry on with my day.

Just the other afternoon, I was in line at the drive-up ATM machine. I was watching the person ahead of me and had to laugh to myself. He was not close enough to the machine and the ATM was much higher than his car, but he attempted to reach it and his card fell to the ground. When he tried to open his door, he banged it on the machine.

Small things do seem to get the best of us. Maybe if we practiced being patient, things would go smoother. So, when your tenants complain about the height of your keypad, refer to some of the other "convenience" items we use in our day-to-day lives. Unfortunately, there are no mechanisms to raise and lower these items to suit our tastes. Maybe the next invention will accommodate us with this problem. My suggestion is to listen to your customers' concerns and tell them you have the same problems. The creator of the keypad pedestal seemed to know only one height. Whether or not he tried out his own invention, we will never know.

A father-daughter team, the Waldmans are self-storage owners/operators and attorneys. In addition, Ms. Waldman holds a master's degree in labor and employment law from Georgetown University. The Waldmans are co-authors of the industry's leading series of books on self-storage operations: Getting Started, Forms, Policies & Procedures and South Carolina Tools. Another creation of Ask The Waldmans are their colorful posters designed exclusively for the self-storage industry. Comments and questions for ASK THE WALDMANS may be sent to: The Waldmans, P.O. Box 21416, Charleston, SC 29413.

E-mail: [email protected]; Web:

Views and opinions on legal matters are those of the authors. Professional counsel should be obtained before any determination or positive action is taken.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.