Gina Six Kudo is the general manager for Cochrane Self Storage in Morgan Hill, Calif. She is one of four recipients of the Inside Self-Storage 2009 Humanitarian Service Award.
Divorce and self-storage is not always the greatest match up. There always seems to be drama when one spouse rents self-storage during this difficult life transition.
Case in point, we had a customer we’ll call Robert. Robert rented a unit and, for a few months, paid fairly timely. We'll call his soon-to-be-ex Lisa. Turns out Robert signed our contract legally, stating the contents in the unit were his. However, he was storing things belonging to Lisa too.
Time passes and Robert’s rent goes delinquent. Meanwhile, Lisa learns where her personal items are stored via the attorneys. Robert claims he is paying the storage unit rent, all the while we are mailing and phoning to collect the past-due balance.
One day the phone rings. It's Lisa. While explaining there is not much we can do, we try to assist in generalities. Then things really start to go south. Robert promises he will be right down to make a payment. He asks if we can we stay open for him? We do, but he’s a no-show. We try again and again. Still, he's a no-show. I wait a week and phone him again. This time Mr. Suave is a monster, accusing us of not being patient, refusing to work with him, and got downright nasty. You’re all more than familiar with this type of behavior as auction time nears.
So we offer Lisa a solution. Through the attorneys she asks Robert to sign a release on the unit and the contents. Of course, nothing happens, and along comes auction day. Lisa comes to the auction, hoping she will not be outbid on her possessions.
As per procedure, all 40-plus auction buyers are informed of her presence at the auction. One bidder asks a question. Lisa gives them a brief synopsis. As the crowd approaches her unit, you can see Lisa stiffen; this is her lifetime of memories on the auction block and she has no control on the outcome. The inspection drags on until the bidding commences. The bids climb and keep climbing.
Then something happens. From my distant vantage point, I notice one bidder subtly nudging another bidder, then it happens again and again. The bidding finally stops and Lisa now has the winning bid!
A rousing round of cheers and applause arose from the auction bidders. Lisa expressed her gratitude and relief, shedding tears of joy. Hugs ensued, but the goodness and kindness of our auction bidders did not stop there.
After hearing of her plight, one by one, the bidders slipped her cash. We’re not talking about $5 bills either; they were very generous. Another bidder offered his services to move her items to a new unit, a task that encompassed several hours of his time.
We have always appreciated our auction buyers for the services they provide to us as a facility. We shower them with donuts and coffee and a welcoming attitude at each auction. This time, they reciprocated in such a wonderful show of humanity and kindness to a someone so down on her luck. We are proud to know them all.
We gained a loyal customer, we had a great auction and the facility prospered all in one fell swoop. With all the stories in the media about the negative side of storage auctions, this was one feel-good ending I thought needed to be shared.
Have any wonderful auction stories to share? Post a comment below.