Atlanta News Station Trashes Self-Storage

An Atlanta news station airs a story casting doubt on the security of self-storage facilities (and criticizing facility operators for the contract they use to protect themselves).

Amy Campbell, Senior Editor

August 28, 2009

2 Min Read
Atlanta News Station Trashes Self-Storage

Publishing or airing news stories that highlight the potentially negative aspects of the self-storage business—fires, break-ins, lien sales, etc.—is one thing. Running a poorly researched attack on the business is a completely different animal.

This week an Atlanta news station ran a very slanted story about a tenant who said items were stolen out of her storage unit at O'Storage in Kennesaw, Ga. 11 Alive Atlanta broadcasted a piece titled "Storage Problems" in which its "Center for Investigative Action (CIA)" reported some very sketchy statistics. For example, the reporter said there are "many published reports" about crime at self-storage facilities and delivered an uncited statistic that as many as 75 percent of storage facilities experience some kind of theft within a five-year period. He went on to say "those secure self-storage contracts have little meaning," but failed ot mention what the real purpose of those contracts are.

The video shows an interview with the tenant, Catherine O'Neill, as she walks a reporter through the facility and to her unit, where she describes what was stolen and how. They proceed to the rental office and talk to the manager, who handles the situation just right: She explains she is not authorized to comment on the incident and provides the reporter with the name and phone number of the corporate office. At least she had some sense, unlike other managers I've seen on TV who launch into a full-scale discussion of the incident. (See this news report, related to Michael Jackson's death, his doctor, and his doctor's storage unit.)

The report goes on to dissect the storage rental agreeement, the clear statements about the facility's level of liability and the limitation of value on stored property. Not a bad contract from the industry perspective, and yet the operator was more or less criticized for protecting himself. The tenant said the situation boiled down to poor security. Though her unit remained locked, the thieves had managed to peel down a corner of the back wall from the inside.

Facility owner James O'Neill (I assume there's no relation to the tenant) issued a professional statement explaining his cooperation with police, the actions taken on the tenant's behalf, the tenant's decline of storage insurance, and the course of action that would be taken should the situation escalate. Again, well-handled.

The news station has amalgamated the related information on a Web page, inviting people to comment and offer suggestions for choosing a storage facility. You should read the commentary at the bottom of the page. If you feel comfortable adding comments in the industry's defense, great. If you prefer to discuss the situation with fellow self-storage operators, jump in on this discussion, "TV Story Hammers Self-Storage," on Self-Storage Talk.

About the Author(s)

Amy Campbell

Senior Editor, Inside Self Storage

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