Storage Auctions

Collusion & Fraud and a grand down the drain?

Collusion & Fraud and a grand down the drain?
« on: March 08, 2012, 07:38:57 AM »
Well yesterday totally sucked!  Don and I again decided to divide.  He took Cubesmart (U-store-it) while I did the local popular auctioneer.  His crowds were minimal, while mine was over 100 by 8:30 am.  I bid on a few, but never won a unit.  Both auctions were sort of paralleling each other.  I took a break from my auctions to stop in and see my bro and drop off some musicians equipment for his buddy to evaluate.  While there Don called and said he had a unit that might run more than he had but looked to be good.  I was 5 minutes away and headed over.  When I got there he said he got it for $1000.

I waited outside the facility while he was inside paying.  One of the regulars (our whale) was there and said Don may get hosed as Cubesmart was selling this unit for the tenant on consignment.  I walked to the door and Don had just paid (cash) and was getting papers shoved in front of him with 3 woman saying just sign this and this and we'll be done.  He questioned them and they said he was not signing an agreement with Cubesmart but with the tenant.  It appears that they let the tenant go and remove personal items and the like then put it up for auction.  At no time was Don (or the other gentleman who was also duped) told beforehand this information.  When Don balked the gal who runs the auctions said "oh I guess I should have told everybody huh?"  while the store manager said 'this is something new we're doing'.  After a time we went to the unit to begin clean-out.

The doors go up and I start in and found that all tools were arranged to show value, when in fact 90% were either broken or incomplete.  behind the second door (it was a 10X20) was a particle board desk with a nice industrial shredder and vintage sewing machine on it, while right behind it were bags of trash and more broken items.  Don was devastated.  About this time the other gentleman walked up and said his locker was also staged (he spent $1600).  Both guys were grumbling and talking about fraud when I said 'just go up and take it up with the manager.'   They did.

I spent the next 10 minutes shoving things back in, shut the doors, locked my husbands truck up and went to the office.  The manager was frustrated as were both guys.  She said she (and they) would need to talk with the district manager.  Both parties agreed to put their locks and locks from the facility on the units so neither could enter without the other in attendance.

I left and hooked back up with my caravan.  Never did land a unit, but by this time my heart wasn't in it.
Later in the afternoon after not hearing from the district manager, I called the corporate headquarters in PA, explained the situation, was put on hold and ultimately transferred back to......you guessed it.....the store manager here in Tucson.  I was frustrated and she talked a good compassionate line.  I told her the other gentleman was talking about a lawyer and she said 'we talked with our legal department and we did nothing wrong'.  I mentioned misrepresentation and she clammed up.  I told her that it would be nice to hear from the district manager and she took my info.

Don called and left another message for him and an hour later he called back and basically said all sales are final.  When Don told him I had called the corporate office he kind of balked and said he would have somebody from corporate call us today.......we'll see.

I'm planning on taking a loss.  We can probably squeak $500-600 out of the unit, but I will not simply lie down for this.  They should never had told certain individuals about the consignment and not the entire crowd and they certainly should have said we were not going to have a contract with them, but with a tenant.  Shady practice and one that I don't think will last without MAJOR rethinking!

OK~rant over.  Now I have to finish typing up the timeline and then head out to auctions......

Offline MovieMan

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Re: Collusion & Fraud and a grand down the drain?
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2012, 08:50:28 AM »
Well yesterday totally sucked! 

And we can see why !  I'm sorry you had that experience and when you mentioned your heart wasn't in it to go on to other auctions we can totally relate.

Now you have to wait on the new responses from mgrs and then fool around with all the stuff too boot. Not going to be a pleasant feeling working in there, but your attitude will have to be to get as much out of the stuff as you can. Hopefully you'll be able to break even or get close to that anyway.

We'll be anxious to hear if they give you any relief, but I'm kind of doubting it. If nothing else, how about (if all else fails) getting them to give you say 3 months of free storage in either that locker or another (say a 10 x 15 or 10 x 20). That would make you feel a little better and give you some working room. That would be of course if it's a convenient distance to your home.

Anyway, feeling for your frustration.  :'(

Offline Cobia

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Re: Collusion & Fraud and a grand down the drain?
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2012, 08:52:51 AM »
Hey Rockin,

That story really sucks, if you can get $500-$600 back It might not be as bad a set up as you think. I have bought "staged" units and some I made money on and some I did'nt. There is no guarantee of value in any unit made by the facility to auction buyers, so it really doesn't matter if it is a typical customer unit we all think we are bidding on, or a build-up unit, consignment unit, or a garbage unit. This entire industry is poorly regulated and I know this is too cliche but it really truly is "buyer beware"! Remember, Don bid on what he could see from the door. He would have spent $1000 on that unit blind to any other knowledge.

 One of the best units I ever saw was one of these "consignment" units, the lady scrounged up just enough to pay what she owed but was flat broke otherwise and knew she would not have the money next month. She asked the facility to go ahead and auction off her contents even though she paid up, and made conditions that she wanted just a few personal items out of it.

I have also seen the "garage sale" units were friends or family of the facility owner/manager load their personal stuff they are trying to get rid of and auction it off. Since there is no guarantee of quality, condition, or type of items in the units, I am not sure how you can claim a suit of fraudulent representation concerning the contents themselves. I guess you could argue you had no agreement to enter into a consignment contract with the tenant. If you plan to pursue this in court, I would'nt start selling off the contents of the unit until you get some legal advice.
 
I'm no attorney, so I can't say how far you would get with a lawsuit. You would be fighting a corporation so I am sure they could keep the case in limbo for a long time and drain you guys of time and money. I guess the only thing I would have done is refused to hand over the money when they started to push that consignment contract in front of me, and let them try to sue me. I am sure they would'nt bother and just sell it to the next highest bidder or re-auction it off. Like I said, not sure what kind of case you have, but you can certainly spread the story around the auction crowd and hope it hurts their auction attendence.

Anyway, I feel your pain, I have bought units that had a few nice things up front and nothing but household garbage and paper/junkmail in the back. Were these units purposely staged by the manager/facility? Were these units completely set up? Who knows, but it's just part of the business and learning not to over bid, remembering that 90% of all units are a gamble, regardless of if you spend $5 or $1000; everyone who gets in this business is gonna pay for a booger or two or even more the longer they stay in it.  

Re: Collusion & Fraud and a grand down the drain?
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2012, 09:22:51 AM »
forgot to add that when Don got home he tossed something on my desk and said he found this in the parking lot of the last auction facility he attended.  He added that he thought it was appropriate.........
it is a small charm of a doghouse~

poor guy is really kicking himself~

Off to another set of auctions.....this time with a little less gusto (and capital)~

***sigh***

Re: Collusion & Fraud and a grand down the drain?
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2012, 10:30:05 AM »
I dont get how this happens to yall all the time. Ive really never seen it. And the idea that theyd admit to it is appauling.

Re: Collusion & Fraud and a grand down the drain?
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2012, 02:05:42 PM »
You can read my post in the other thread... But if the auction was represented as a auction due to default and that wasn't the case.  You should have legal recourse.  And you don't have to worry about lawyers and such - just take them to small claims court.  If nothing else, they will be forced to hire a lawyer to represent themselves in court.  You could also then talk to your local news about it - I am sure that a story on fraud at storage auctions would do well in the ratings...

Sam

Re: Collusion & Fraud and a grand down the drain?
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2012, 03:35:06 PM »
im sorry to hear that !

Re: Collusion & Fraud and a grand down the drain?
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2012, 04:09:16 PM »
Okay~so.....we went to the auctions today with a different auctioneer.  I was very nervous to see who knew what and how......Immediately hit with questions, smart-assed comments and the like.  Seems we were the buzz.  Our whale said that he felt it was BS and that there would be repercussions, but as most pointed out we have little recourse.  Furthermore an old-timer (that I adore and has taken me under his wing) said that the last thing we want to do is proceed with a legal case as that would kill us at future auctions (even those not run by CS).

All in all it was very uncomfortable at first, but by the end of it, we were being backed as all realized it could have been them.
Don has been in contact with the upper-management and things are still progressing, but I truly believe we will own a pile of pooh.  I've pretty much resolved myself to that fact.  One interesting point and very disturbing is that one of the CS managers said we might have legal recourse against the tenant and suggested we could call in the police......I'm like HUH???

Was interesting to find out that the owner (tenant) was in the crowd and told a couple people that he had taken out all the welding equipment and such.....why oh why wasn't my husband in the vicinity at that time~

Oh well.....sometimes the best lessons are those that cause pain~

Re: Collusion & Fraud and a grand down the drain?
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2012, 06:21:11 PM »
again im sorry to hear about this

this is the first time ive heard about this where you enter an agreement with the tenant


its not uncommon however for the storage company to cut a deal with a tenant  , let them take their items and sign a release on the rest of the stuff to go up for auction , leaving whoever bought it with a pile of crap
 just one more thing to keep in mind

Re: Collusion & Fraud and a grand down the drain?
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2012, 06:36:09 PM »
Ouch Rockin - I can feel your pain (member I lost $875 last year).  Think I wouldn't of signed any paperwork as soon as I found out it was the "tenant" and not the facility I was buying from.  Red flags would of started to go off I think.  I try to be very careful on units that just look too good.  With many things showing.  In fact I've gotten to the point if a unit isn't on my paper but up for auction that is the first flag that goes up.  Granted I bid on one of those units today but didn't win.

I very well may stay away from that facility in the future.  Sounds like they are starting to do some shady things IMO.  The no announcement thing at start of the auction should of made the contract null and void as it's now not a contract in good faith.

Offline MovieMan

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Re: Collusion & Fraud and a grand down the drain?
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2012, 06:47:11 PM »


However, OTOH, what are y’all doing bidding on a locker that was not showing 2-3 times bid value?



In my area of California if I went by the guideline quoted just above I would NEVER get a locker.
It's more a matter for me and my fellow regulars of making a controlled, educated gamble based on what we see
and how much we are willing to gamble.

I would have to see $1200 of value to bid $400 and as I said...that just isn't happening here right now.
The more likely scenario is I see $500 and I bid $600 or $700 and cross my fingers.



Offline money4nothing

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Re: Collusion & Fraud and a grand down the drain?
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2012, 07:16:31 PM »
Oh well.....sometimes the best lessons are those that cause pain~

Nobody needs to learn a lesson like that.

So sorry for this situation. I hope that you can get something out of it either from unit or the facility.

On one of our caravans two locations lockers looked bad (same manager). So started avoiding just those two facilities. Started hearing about bad units there. Ran into a guy who had bought one from there managed to get his money back, not sure how. But he was blaming the auction company not the manager. The manager is now gone.  ;D

Keep your chin up.  ;)
Would buy you and Don a drink but would be a little water down by the time it got there.  ;D ;D

Offline MovieMan

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Re: Collusion & Fraud and a grand down the drain?
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2012, 08:01:57 PM »
Hey MovieMan - I enjoy reading your posts. Some of the best entertainment for me during the time I was lurking here was because of you.



Thanks !  Since the tv shows came on I've had more time to spend here swapping "war stories".


Offline MovieMan

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Re: Collusion & Fraud and a grand down the drain?
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2012, 09:50:25 PM »
Ouch Rockin - I can feel your pain (member I lost $875 last year). 

Craig....

I saw you make one reference to that loss a week or so ago, but I don't remember ever reading anything else about it back in 2011. Can you point me to a thread in which you might have talked about it?  Maybe I could pick up a pointer on what "not" to do. Never stop learning !


Offline alloro

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Re: Collusion & Fraud and a grand down the drain?
« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2012, 11:35:36 PM »
I imagine if the locker paid off or did slightly better than breaking even the story would have been different here in that case.

I think you've missed the point here. This is not a question of the locker paying off or not paying off. What happened here is a conspiracy between the tenant and the property manager to first remove the valuable items and then send the left over garbage off to auction. They intentionally set the stage for an unsuspecting buyer to get robbed, especially when they failed to disclose this arrangement prior to the start of the auction. This goes beyond being unethical and is a criminal act. The buyer has every right to file charges.


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