[A guest blog spot by ISS Managing Editor Elaine Foxwell.]
It's not always easy to deal with life on lifes terms. For the most part, this industry has good people who not only provide a necessary service, but do it with a smile. There are many, many storage professionals who go one step further than business as usual to make this a better place for others. This lets me, mainly, write positive blogs. Regrettably, this is not going to be one of them.
By virtue of owning a large pickup truck, I find myself helping friends move. The last time I did it, I was left with a bad taste in my mouthfrom the storage facility where a friend moved her goods.
My friend, Katheline, was in shock. Her life had turned into a nasty melodrama with the Universe deciding to dump all sorts of rotten surprises on her at once. In what almost seems like a classic soap-opera case, her hubby of 31 years decided to leave her for the younger trophy girlfriend. My friend lost her job and could not keep her lovely home. She even had to give up her Greyhound dog.
She called me one Friday afternoon, exhausted and in tears. She had reserved a unit at a nearby storage facility. Could I help move her stuff into storage the next day? But when we arrived at the store, she faced a couple more unpleasant surprises. First, the manager told her she had to pay a $15 administration fee for processing her application. There we sat, truck loaded to the sky, and she had to dish out more of what she didnt have. Yes, $15 is not much at first sight, but she had little cash that day.
Then the manager told her it was company policy that she have tenant insurance unless she provided insurance of her own. There was a choice of two fees for the mandatory insurance: A lower cost if she opted on the spot for the facility's coverage, or a much higher one (more than double) if she waited to try to find her own provider. She accepted the facilitys coverage.
So whose fault was it that my friend got horrible shock after horrible shock on a day that was already full of strife? Was it hers for not asking the right questions when she reserved her unit over the phone? Was it mine, since I did not volunteer any pointers? Since the process seemed simple, she didn't ask me about any potential glitches in renting a unit. Sadly, I put this on the shoulders of the manager.
My gripe is twofold: I disagree with both the facilitys policy of making tenant insurance mandatory, and the failure of the management to disclose this and the administration fee upfront.
I realize this facility is one out of more than 50,000 nationwide, and my friend's was just a small incident. But a customer, especially one who has never stored before, cannot know all the questions to ask. If a customer has reached the point of discussing unit sizes and rates, he surely would listen for another minute or two while you explain any extra fees and the need for insurance. Asking if the customer understands after each point removes disclaimers of I didnt hear that, or I didnt know that out of the equation.
Maybe this seems like a bash, but it isnt intended that way. I know every facility tries its best to address the concerns of customers. This is just a reminder that sometimes things go wrong and leave a tenant feeling angry and confused. OK, rant over. Questions? Comments? Rebuttal?