Reader Question : Shady Managers

On Storage Auctions Kings, we always do our best to respond quickly to reader’s questions sent to us via the Ask form. Today’s reader question comes from Peter,  who has witnessed some pretty disturbing behavior going on around his local storage property. When it comes to auctions, greed is the ultimate motivator, but you never expect it to be coming from the storage managers! What can you do if you suspect the management of unsavory acts when they are approaching an auction day? Is there any possible recourse to stop managers from stealing from delinquent units before the actual auction day? Peter asks:
[quote]What can you do if you think the storage auction manager or staff is going through the lockers before they are auctioned off.  There has been a number of time where the buyers feel the manager or staff of the auction have gone through certain lockers before they are auctioned off and taken items of value from them.  Example is that one storage manager was seen at the swap meet selling high end guitars and other valuable merchandise that could only have been from a storage locker. There are other examnples but wanted to get your thoughts.

Excellent question, Peter. Unfortunately, it sounds like there are a number of things terribly wrong with this picture. For one thing, managers going through auction units is a huge no-no. If they are in fact going through the units and helping themselves to what they like they are opening themselves up to criminal charges. The lien laws are in place to ensure an orderly and rightful sale of the goods inside a delinquent unit by the company (not individuals) in order to defray the company’s damages caused by non-payment.

Not to mention it’s extremely unprofessional, damages the reputation of the entire facility and will only hurt business and auction turn outs in the long run.

If you have a strong suspicion this is going on, you do have potent recourse. One thing you may need only to threaten is to notify the owner of said storage facility. Most of the time, the property manager is an employee that works there at the will of the company, which may either own or manage the facility. Alternatively, a single person or group of people who’ve invested in the property may own it. If the property manager does not happen to be the owner, you can bet they will be terminated right quick when they fail to provide the proper documentation and proof that they were following the correct procedures for pre-processing an auction unit.

Unfortunately, most companies do require their facility managers to open up the units that are going to be sold once the company has fully repossessed them. Usually, a property manager will go with another manager or an assistant, who is basically serving as a witness, and take pictures of themselves opening the unit, documenting its contents simply by looking inside and describing the items generally, and then closing the unit and locking it with a company overlock. Usually the manager will also install an auction tag on the door at this point.

An auction tag is a clip-on badge with a unique serial number printed on it. Once installed on the storage unit door, this tag can only be opened by being snapped off and broken. The manager will now take a picture of this tag and the serial number. This provides yet another layer of protection against liability, for both the manager and the company, because this tag will not be broken until auction day when all the bidders are standing outside it, thereby proving the unit has not been tampered with since it was pre-processed.

The company, as well as the owner, if they are different, would be very interested to know if these procedures aren’t being followed correctly. Even if the shady managers are simply helping themselves before they pre-process the unit, the very fact that they’re being questioned about it by their upper management would probably scare them straight.

You could always call up asking to know the contact info for the owner because you have a unique advertising opportunity for them! (You didn’t hear this from me).

If you want to be even more low key about it you could always ask the storage manager where they got their fancy new items. When they tell you whatever lame lie they come up with, just say outloud, “that’s funny, because I could have sworn that looks exactly like the one my buddy was storing in his unit before you guys sent him to auction!”

Thanks for your question, Peter. Keep the questions coming, folks!

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]My name is Zack Proser. I created this site to share the insights I’ve gained from working as a property manager, processing units for auction and conducting the sales on auction day. I also use this site to share my experiences on a diverse array of topics pertaining to the self storage industry, working as a property manager, storage unit auctions tips and using local storage auctions as a resource for supplemental income.[/author_info] [/author]