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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
28 counties covering Western Pennsylvania
Store Your Belongings with Confidence – Not With Fear of a Scam
June 19, 2012

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – June 19, 2012 - Self-storage facilities dot the landscapes of new and older communities. Folks rent units to empty overflowing basements; to stash furnishings while moving or remodeling; or to store business supplies for future use. While most facilities are operated by reputable businesses, your Better Business Bureau recommends checking out a business carefully before handing over your precious belongings.

In 2011, BBB received more than 1,000 complaints against storage units on a national basis. Many of the complaints filed were from disgruntled consumers who were never able to access their storage units after paying a deposit, had goods damaged in the storage units or had their belongings taken from the storage unit.

Consumers are advised to research and shop carefully before signing on the dotted line. BBB recommends understanding seven major factors before selecting a temporary storage facility:

Cost. Obtain written cost estimates from at least three facilities. Most will insist on inspecting your items before offering an estimate. Costs to consider include the monthly rental fee (usually there are a minimum monthly storage charge and a minimum number of month’s storage); storage preparation, padding, packing or transportation fees; and fees for extra options (electricity, pest control, insurance) you may choose. Ask how the fees are to be paid and by what date.

Size. What size storage units are available? Is there a maximum weight limit for unit contents? Can you jam-pack the entire unit from floor to ceiling?

Climate. Consider the general climate and whether your belongings might be subject to mold or water damage. If so, you may want to consider an environmentally-controlled unit.

Insurance. Make sure your items are insured from theft, fire or other damage. The facility may provide basic insurance or you can choose to purchase insurance from an alternate source. Some homeowners’ policies cover self-storage; check with your insurance agent to be sure you are covered.

Safety. You will need a heavy-duty, secure lock protecting your storage unit. Ask if the facility has surveillance cameras on the property and if a system is in place to restrict access by strangers. Ask for contact information to reach someone at the facility in case of an emergency, both during and after business hours.

Contract. Get everything in writing – the size and location of the unit, options (such as climate-control) that you have selected, termination regulations, insurance coverage, and payment terms. Make sure the facility has several different ways to get in touch with you (home phone, cell phone, email, etc.) in case there is ever a problem with your unit or your payment.

Access. What are the hours and related charges for accessing your unit? Is there adequate room for parking and is the distance from your car/truck to the rental unit acceptable? Does the facility offer dollies or hand trucks to help you move your belongings in and out? Make sure you can easily move your possessions in and out with reasonable ease.

Lastly, pay attention to your monthly bill or credit card statement to make sure you are up-to-date on your payments. You don’t want your storage unit to be labeled “abandoned” and put up for auction. Be sure that you understand your rights under Pennsylvania’s Self-Service Storage Facility Act.

When searching for a reputable storage facility, Start With Trust with your Better Business Bureau. For reliable information and industry tips, lists of BBB Accredited Businesses in the storage industry and business reviews you can trust on local companies, visit www.bbb.org or call 877.267.5222.

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BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability ReportsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 116 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about the BBB System.