I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating. I work as a manager for a storage facility. I truly love my job but there are some satirical occurrences that have happened over time and I have to share a few of them. If nothing else, it will enlighten you into the world of self storage and some of the interesting dynamics that are dealt with.
I had a customer a almost one year ago who got a unit with our company. He seemed to be a decent person but over the next few months, he stopped paying his bill. I worked with him as best as I could to help get him caught up on his payments but he stopped communicating all together. He had asked me to let him get his wife’s cremated ashes out of the building and I checked with my supervisor and was told that we would allow him to get them but he had to call us and make provisions to get them. He never called me back to retrieve those ashes. His unit eventually went to auction. The woman who won the auction brought those ashes to me in my office. Now, some of you are not superstitious. I am. I’m very leery of having any type of ashes like that in a place where a person is still around. I tried everything to get in contact with this man. Nothing worked. I called the funeral home since their information was on top of the urn. They had no clue what to do because they went to the man’s home and it had been sold. They then told me to contact the police. I did. The cop who I spoke with told me to throw the ashes away. First of all, I’m not going to do that. The ashes still had bone fragments in them and I wasn’t about to throw a person away. I wouldn’t want to be discarded like trash and I wasn’t about to do that to this woman. She deserved better.
Her obituary said that she was beloved by numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. This was not the kind of person that had not made an impact on others in her life and I knew that she would have people that wanted her remains. This was still bugging me so I decided to look up the obituary for the umpteenth time to see if I could figure out how to get this urn back to the family. I noticed the woman had two sons. I tried to look them up but they had a common last name and I didn’t have any luck locating them. However, I did see a brother and his wife’s name on the obit. It indicated the state they lived in so I looked them up online. I found them. When I asked the man if he had a sister by that name, I explained who I was and why I was calling. I told him I had tried repeatedly to get in contact with the husband and he wouldn’t return my calls. He didn’t know how to get in contact with her sons but he knew that his daughter would know. She, in turn called the sons. Within two hours they came and got their mother’s ashes. Both boys and their families were in tears because their step father would not let them have their mother’s ashes. Not long after they got them, the ex husband called and threatened me with a lawsuit. Number one, the ashes were no longer his property. He lost them when he lost the unit. Number two, if the ashes were that important to him, he never should have sold them in the first place.
Then there’s another customer who never bothered to check his unit for over 3 years and when our facility took over, he decided to sue us because his unit leaked. I double checked his paperwork and he had signed a waiver of any responsibility for the facility. He also wanted to sue but he had not taken out any insurance, he had failed to check on his unit and keep the previous management in the loop about any leakage and in the process, he opted to stop paying on his space. He was agitated because he wanted to talk to upper management. Every time they tried to respond, he wouldn’t answer the phone. Communication is imperative with any business and customer. Storage facilities are generally not willing to accept liability to any belongings. That’s one of the reasons that so many storage facilities are now requiring insurance. It’s for everyone’s protection.
Now, before you all think that I’m picking on these folks, I’m actually not. There are lessons to be learned from them. Take for example the folks who try to live in a storage facility even though it’s against the rules. There are reasons that living in a facility is a strict no no. Many facilities have security cameras on them for surveillance. Several of them have installed alarms because they have found themselves in need of being monitored. Times get tight for everyone and facility managers understand this fact. However, that doesn’t mean they are going to condone people living in the units, especially when it’s in the contracts that this act is prohibited.
Storing weapons and drugs is illegal too. At one of the previous facilities I worked at, a gun that was used in a murder was found by the local police department in one of the storage units. There are reasons that many facilities are cracking down on what can and can’t be stored. Some of those reasons should be common sense but common sense seems to be getting in shorter supply every year.
So, this is why I’m writing this blog. For starters, don’t leave live or dead bodies, cremated ashes or anything that resembles this in a storage unit. It’s not cool. Plus if it goes to auction, you’ll lose your loved one. Also, before you try to attack everyone else for your issues, read the fine print on the leasing agreement. It’s very specific as to what you can and can’t store. Next, get insurance on your unit. Most facilities now require it. It’s not there to be a gimmick. It’s there to cover you in case anything goes wrong. No one can predict any type of disaster. It’s better to have your belongings covered than to just assume they are. The previous gentleman that didn’t have insurance lost over $90000 in possessions and it could have been avoided. By not checking his unit, he allowed things to ruin. And finally, don’t store drugs, create any type of drug labs, or utilize terrorist organizations in units. Not only is it frowned upon and you can get in serious legal trouble for it, but it’s a sure fire way to get caught.
Ultimately, the responsibility lies on each one of our shoulders. If you rent from a place, make sure you know what is in your rental agreement. There are some things that you might be liable for. It’s just like if you rent an apartment. If something breaks, it’s usually the apartment’s responsibility to get it fixed but if you ruin something, then more than likely you will be the one paying to get it replaced. Assume nothing. Research everything and above all, have a little respect for yourself and others. If you create a mess, why do you think someone else wants to clean it up for you? There has to be some thought to be put into things. Otherwise, the stories get wilder, the animosity gets higher, and the respect dwindles.