Despite what the recent storage wars craze might lead you to believe, storage facilities are not in the business of holding auctions. Instead, their business is in renting out space for people to store their belongings. Storage auctions represent only a small portion of the work that facility owners must do in a given month, and they are not a major part of their day.
For a storage facility, auctions are simply a way to recover lost costs associated with defaulted rent. They help with emptying units so that they can be re-rented, and they help compensate for lost profits on abandoned units. In most states, storage facilities cannot even profit from units that sell for more than was owed in rent, and hosting large auctions can be a logistical nightmare for facilities in terms of parking and other resources.
In other words, the new auction craze fueled by hopeful treasure-seekers is not necessarily the boon to the storage facility industry that you might expect.
Meanwhile, auctions are getting more and more popular. Where a storage auction may have had a half-dozen bidders in the past, turn-outs of 100 people are not uncommon at auctions across the country. Worse, many of the people coming to the auction are mere spectators with little interest in bidding and no knowledge of the industry.
While curiosity is certainly not a sin, it can result in an excessive number of inquiries being made to the storage facility. A few particularly well-known names in the business – companies who are featured on television or appear in the news – suffer the worst of this newfound fame.
Some exasperated facility managers have resorted to directing all inquiries to the facility's website, and others have even begun getting short-tempered or downright nasty to callers.
If you ever find yourself on the brunt end of a rude interaction with a storage facility, try to keep this in perspective: You may have been just one of a dozen or more people calling with that same question today. Before calling to ask a question, see if you can find the answer elsewhere. The facility's website may list all the information you need. You can also check the website of the auctioneer.
There are numerous references online you can check, including this blog and our associated forum StorageAuctionForums.com, for general auction information. Be sure to research and learn independently rather than relying on busy professionals to walk you through the basics.
While there is no excuse for bad customer service, understanding where facility managers are coming from can help you relate to them better. The storage auction industry is undergoing some serious changes, and there are bound to be a few bumps along the way as things either go back to the way they had once been or adapt to these new changes. In the meanwhile, being well-researched and professional will help make your interactions more pleasant for everyone involved.