Report: #475091

Complaint Review: Public Storage

  • Submitted: Thu, July 30, 2009
  • Updated: Sat, February 13, 2010
  • Reported By: Hollywood Florida
  • Public Storage
    2001 SW 70th Ave
    Davie, Florida

Public Storage Sale of Property Davie Florida

*General Comment: Auction Process

Show customers why they should trust your business over your competitors...

I was 2.5 months behind on my unit; after receiving a letter from Public Storage stating if I did not correct this matter as soon as possible my belongings would be auctioned. I immediately went to the facility where my belongings were stored and paid a portion of the bill, which left a remaining balance of $xxx.xx, explaining to the manager my current financial hardship. Thinking everything was ok, I was able to enjoy my July 4th weekend with my family.

On July 16th 2009, I received an email invoice stating the amount of $xxx.xx (including late fees) and the date the payment was due. I called customer service the next day and informed them of my intent to pay the remaining balance of $xxx.xx, at that time the customer service representative apologized and stated my belongings had been auctioned off. I questioned the representative extensively, "how could this happen, you never notified me, why did you do this?" I was told that Public Storage did attempt to contact me but my cell phone was disconnected. I replied, "That being the case, why not send me a letter or an email?" The response, "we did." I stated clearly they did not and if they did I would have taken care of the remaining balance at that point.

I immediately placed a call to the district manager, as well as the facility manager the next day, all responses were the same. I continued to ask the question, Why did you not use some other means of communication, since you were not able to get a hold of me on my cell phone? the response, We only send out one letter, I stated, I received the letter and quickly made half the payment, if I knew all was not ok, I would of called sooner to make other arrangements. You never gave me a chance to make good on my debt, you were in such a hurry to sell my items and now you are informing me the unit has now been sold. I asked the manager for the phone number of the auctioneer, stating I had legal documents in a file cabinet that was stored in my unit. I was told I could not have the number but they will contact the person and have them return my call. I received a phone call and informed that my documents are in a box and the place I needed to go to pick them up.

The person who had my belongings was standing outside their Public Storage unit, at a different facility. He instructed me to go through the boxes and pick out what I wanted, of course I want it all I stated, "Then give me an offer, because I paid for this stuff, therefore it is mine, so if you want it back you have to pay me." I was shocked, how could this person expect me to pay for my own belongings. I know the value of the items he bought and it well exceeded the amount he paid for them ($xxx.xx). I stated I had no money but I would get some. After all what is being done is called extortion, is this kind of reputable auctioneers Public Storage deals with? I drove away frightened and scared.

Instantly I knew this was no auctioneer, this was definitely a racket of some sort. I've told my story to a few people, who've told me of similar stories regarding similar situations. I've also found through my own research, that people's belongings don't get auctioned off; they find their way to flea markets where they are sold at a marked up price.

I am very frustrated, emotional, and angry. My belongings (family pictures, kid's school drawings, graduation pictures, my yearbooks, etc) things that mean only something to me are treated with such disregard. I feel victimized, as if I have been robbed. How can these people get away with this? How can Public Storage allow this to happen?

On July 28th 2009, again I met with the person who had purchased my belongings, he had pictures of the kids and some of my children's artwork from school along with some children's books, and my yearbooks (I paid him $xx.xx for these items), however he did not have my divorce papers, child custody documents, CC statements, military id's, and other important documents placed and kept in a file cabinet, my college and law books, etc, all gone!

I had two children's piggy banks stored that contained old fifty cent coins, received from doing allowances, one is gone, the other one was broken into for the coins-nothing left but an empty bank. How sad that this crook, oops according to your managers they are "auctioneers, would steal money from children's piggy banks.

This person mentioned the collectible monies (some dating as far back as the late 1800's) in his possession and had them evaluated, telling me that if I wanted these I would have to pay the value of these monies, which were handed down from one generation to the next. Expensive Mikasa china, video camera, porcelain dolls (which he claims to have and says I need to pay market value if I want them back), curio cabinet, kitchen ware, etc, all gone!

I trusted public storage to keep my items safe and secure, with video cameras, locked and secured gates, and 24hr onsite personal (managers) I always believed my items were safe. It is sad to think, with all of those security measures in place that the one thing I should have been concerned about were the onsite personal (managers), who have access to all storage units 24 hours a day.

I am sending a message to all people be careful who and where you store your most prized possessions, don't let all those measures of security fool you. When the day comes to an end, it is the onsite personal (managers) that spends 24hrs a day with your stuff, whom you have to fear the most.

To top off this horrendous ordeal, I was sent a card via the postal service informing me and I quote,

Notice is hereby given that the contents of space number ### at the Public Storage facility located in Davie, FL were sold at public sale to the highest bidder to satisfy the storage lien pursuant to the self storage laws for this state. (Florida law states that a unit has to be 90 days past due mine was not.) The space sold for $xxx.xx which is less than the account balance of $xxx.xx. Accordingly, please remit a payment in the amount of the $xx.xx in order to satisfy the balance due. Dated this 17th day of July 2009 (I received this card on the 23rd of July 2009 7 days from the date stated)

I have a remaining balance of $xx.xx on my unit? Do you really expect me to pay for anything; you sold off all my trusted memories, my belongings, all because you did not collect the entire balance?! I have to pay you?!

Have a great day Public Storage, I won't be recommending your services to anyone!

BTW, Perform a search on the internet for similar stories, many people has had to live this through this same nightmare, including an American soldier. What a Shame!! One place to start

Hollywood, Florida

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#1 General Comment

Auction Process

AUTHOR: SentientOwl - (United States of America)

I work in the storage industry as well, not at this company, but I can at least tell you a few things that may be helpful.

First of all, in orderto auction your unit in the first place, there is a very long process involved which has different requirements in each state.  It is my understanding that in my state, we are not able to sell units for which we have accepted a partial payment.  It would be prudent to check your state's laws reguarding this, but depending on the circumstances, this may or may not be helpful.

Secondly, to sell the unit, the company is required to contact you, though the extent to which they must make an effort to contact you varies by state.  Most often this will include many phone calls, and at least one certified letter.  If you changed this contact information without alerting PS, you may have accidentally shot yourself in the foot.  They have no way of knowing if you moved unless you tell them, and if they cannot call you for whatever reason, then they may not be at fault.

As for the 'auctioneer', the person you spoke to was the buyer, not the auctioneer.  If I'm not mistaken most states have laws which require that the auction buyer return some types of items to the tenant.  Again, this varies by state, but most often includes documents, pictures, or any items which hold no significant value to anyone but their owner, such as children's drawings.  At our property, all buyers who attend the auction must sign an agreement that they must do this in case they find any personal items in the unit, although the company has no way of actually knowing what they find in the unit.  Most of the time our auction buyers will actually bring back boxes full of documents and pictures to our office for this reason, and we will inform the tenant that we have recovered these things for them.  Unfortunately not all people are so honest.

The auctions are public, and anyone may attend them, so the company has no control over who buys your items, or what kind of perso they are.  However, once they have won the auction, all contents of the unit do legally become their property, reguardless of how much they paid for it.  Yes, many auction buyers sell the items at flea markes or online, and this is not illegal in any way.  While it may have been rude, and some may consider it unethical to ask you to pay for your items back, he was correct in saying that he now owns them.  This is of course with the exception of any items he is legally required to return to you, and again, check your state law on this.  The point being, if he was asking you to buy back items which were legally his, this is not extortion, and PS should not be shamed because their auction buyers aren't nice people, because they have no choice but to allow them to attend their auctions.

I understand that this is a very upsetting situation, and in fact you may have been wronged legally if they refused to return the above stated items to you.  However, as far as the rest of the items are concerned, there is nothing nefarious hapening here, and certianly no racket.  You had the story jumbled up somewhere when you assumed that this was an auctioneer hired by PS, because the auctioneers that are hired by the company cannot bid on the units.  I don't mean to accuse you or anyone else of any wrong doing, but I'm sure if you asked every single tenant who has ever had a unit sold at auction, they would all tell you that they were somehow wronged, or that something nefarious is going on.  However, this is not because something really is wrong, it's because they are upset and looking for someone to blame.  Public Storage does not 'allow' this to happen, they don't profit from the sale of your unit, in fact, most storage companies end up eating the cost of the auction because most units will not sell for anywhere near as much as what is owed on them.  And in fact, the company can never profit off of the auction because if the unit is sold for more than the ammount you owed to the company, they are legally required to refund any proceeds in excess of your debt, back to you.

Also, you mentioned that you had lost military IDs in this auction.  If you are an active service member, there are special laws reguarding the sale of your unit, and in some cases, the company may not be able to sell the unit at all.  So check your state and possibly the federal laws reguarding this, they may be of some help to you.

I hope this helped, and I'm very sorry to hear of what you have lost.  But please don't blame innocent people and corporations who followed the law, because it is not their fault.  A company can't be expected to give a pass to anyone who is in an unfortunate situation, that would drive them completely out of business.  But, if they did not follow the law, then I agree you are completely entitled to your posessions.
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