One Storage Lease Diary|After 2 years and more than 10,000 yuan laundering fee, finally get rid of the worst mini storage in history


It started out as a way to save money when we moved in with my ex. We had too much clutter to fit in his small bedroom, so I hauled a bunch of stuff - including a broken MacBook Pro and suitcase stuffed with Forever 21 clothes and high school graduation books. With all this stuff, I found the cheapest mini-warehouse, which was advertised at around $300 a month. When I went abroad to study, I rented the mini-warehouse for a few more months, thinking that I would cancel the lease as soon as I returned to Hong Kong - which was wrong. It's people like me who have helped the mini storage industry to flourish over the decades.


Mini storage is booming in the US

According to statistics from self-storage companies in the US, one in every 11 households rents a self-storage unit for an average of US$450 per month. Last year, the industry's annual revenue was estimated at US$38 billion. While this is a lot of money in objective terms, there are concerns about a downturn in the industry. The largest self-storage company in the US reportedly reported lower revenue growth in the third quarter of 2017 than in the previous year. Despite the slight downturn, the mini storage industry is thriving for two reasons: consumerism and inertia. Much like how gyms make most of their profits from members who have never worked out, mini storage companies profit from people who think they'll store a few old items in their lives before they finally realise it's easier to throw $500 a month at their mini storage company than to actually organise everything. This behaviour may be at the heart of the human condition, where human laziness has always been the friend of the mini storage company, because once the items are in the mini storage, people never have to sort them out again, they leave them there forever.


Not the only unfortunate example of renting mini storage

I can't be the only person who has had a bad mini storage experience (even if it was mostly my fault). A friend recently rented mini storage in the US and they offered a deal where the customer paid a $15 handling fee and got the first month free. From the second month onwards, the unit would cost $169 per month and then another $270 for the third month. Even though there was still one month left on the lease, the friends could no longer afford the high rent, so Mini Storage put a lien on the lockers and charged them another $100. They were given three days notice that if they did not pay in full, their property would be auctioned off.


If the poor quality mini-warehouses had not threatened to exercise a lien on my property, I probably would never have ended the mini-warehouse lease. As I am a responsible young man, I set up autopay when I first rented the mini-warehouse and then quickly put it behind me. Once I no longer needed the mini storage, the $500 monthly fee was a reminder of the consequences of my laziness. I Googled "how to cancel your mini storage service" and found that I had to "politely call" your mini storage merchant about a month before I finished. There was no answer on the hotline so I left a voicemail. No one called me back so I forgot about it. This went on for a few months and would probably have continued to this day if I hadn't lost my wallet and forced me to order a new credit card. Mini Storage's payments stopped showing so I completely forgot about it until my ex called and said, "They told me that if you don't pay them what they owe you and get your stuff out within 30 days, they will auction it all off.


My mini-warehouse saga was somewhat dramatic. After months of no one answering the phone, I finally went to Mini Storage myself and spoke to the company representative there. I told her what had happened and asked her to waive the fee because I had tried to call politely over and over again, to no avail. She said no. I said it was strange that they called my emergency contact directly instead of calling me. It was pointless to say any more as they never gave up the rent anyway.


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