Storage: Like the 'Wild West'?!
Today your getting "tidbits from the tired and insipid." The writer in me has been extremely quiet this week. Either she's asleep, or the rest of world is making so much darn noise that I can't hear her. In either case, the pen (rather, the keyboard) remains painfully still. Time for a little correspondence control.
First, hats off to David and Carol Lackland, owners of Lackland Self-Storage in New Jersey, who recently committed an $8 million gift toward the renovation of Centenary College in Hackettstown. The small, independent school has launched a campaign to raise $33.6 million for the expansion of buildings and programs. The couple wishes to support "an educational institution that shows so much promise." Carol is an alumnus of the college.
Earlier this week, I read an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about a couple whose possessions were accidentally sold by a Public Storage facility. Apparently, the unit next to theirs was delinquent, and the manager auctioned the contents of the wrong space. The young couple claimed to have lost $25,000 worth of goods, which they were storing while their new home is being built. Clark Howard, the consumer advocate handling the case, made this ludicrous comment:
"People having problems with self-storage facilities are legendary. People have no idea how poor their rights are when they do rent from a self-storage facility. If your stuff is stolen, tough. If your stuff is damaged, tough. It's like stepping into the Wild West."
Excuse me!? Aside from the appalling grammar in the first sentence, let's think about this a minute. People have "poor rights" when renting storage? Is that so? The last time I checked, they had the right to purchase STORAGE INSURANCE, which protects them against loss. They certainly have the right to contact the agent for their homeowners' or renters' insurance and inquire about coverage. (To put all of your wordly possessions into storage and NOT insist on insurance seems downright dense.) They have the right to choose IF they store, where they store, what they store and how long they store.
Seems to me storage customers have all the rights they need—if they would just exercise them.
Mistakes will happen, and I'm not saying the facility wasn't at fault in this particular situation. Fortunately for everyone involved, the person who bought the contents of the unit returned it all once he learned of the error. It's the couple's bad for not having protected themselves to the best of their abilities. (As it turns out, the manager did offer them the option to purchase insurance coverage for up to $5,000, which they declined.)
I still can't get over Howard's final comment: Using storage is like "stepping into the Wild West." Sounds like a showdown to me—between hard-working storage operators and the ignorant, who apparently have no clue about the product, how it works and how to use it. With facilities permeating almost every market, you wouldn't expect this lack of knowledge.
So let this be a lesson to you, folks. In addition to your many hats, you'll need to wear a badge, too. Whet your spurs and shine your pistols ... Clear the tumbleweeds from your corridors ... And don't rent a unit until you see the whites of your customers' insurance documentation.
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