Sunday, February 14, 2016

Criticize Uncle Bob's on social media & they may evict you!

Uncle Bob's Self Storage seemed like a decent place to store stuff. But they sell insurance (force you to have some) that they pretend covers water damage (it doesn't in most cases). A district manager for them admitted it's excluded. A store manager was surprised it was excluded in fine print.

That same district manager wanted this blog to go away. When I asked the store manager if I could get half off their $20 late fee when I missed a deadline by an hour near Thanksgiving/Christmas trip, manager said, his boss would only refund it if I took down the blog.

That's why it's still here.

Before evicted a few days ago, I was giving another location a try near my new home during a move.

I'd made a reservation via and it was confirmed. As you can see in previous posting the area lead for Uncle Bob's was there to try to tell me she had ninspaces. Eventually, she admitted she was just choosing not to rent to me. Then she apparently called the other site where I've had stuff almost 4 years (and dealt with their faulty A/C drainage pipe -- something that happens all the time, Mike told me once) ruined more than $1,000 worth of belongings -- plus many mementos that can't be replaced. I was paying extra for an "environmentally a controlled" unit in hopes they would be better protected from extreme temperature or humidity or moisture -- or waterfall from pipe in ceiling.

I think a good law firm should investigate the misrepresentations of this insurance they push people into buying. I suspect there's a successful class action law suit that could be joined by lots of plaintiffs -- hundreds of thousands of people who have paid for this insurance that covers much less than portrayed.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: STAY TUNED! It gets worse ... much worse at 2nd Uncle Bob's upon arrival for move-in today

I thought Uncle Bob's Self Storage was done disappointing me and surprising me with terrible "customer service" -- even from their store managers and their leads.

Boy, was I wrong. And they picked my moving day after the U-Haul was loaded and parked at a second location I was trying -- giving them a second chance.

To summarize the, we have unpleasant surprises from a cast of characters (whose last names and office phone numbers will be added here soon).
For now I'll call them Aunt Lisa, Uncle Mike and Uncle Tom (the boss in Cincinnati over all locations in the "area" -- maybe most of Ohio and Kentucky).

@ Uncle Bob's on Cleveland Avenue in Columbus (Manager Lisa).

After I made a reservation for a new unit at this location to accommodate my moving into a new home with no basement, and the reservation was confirmed through text message and email, I stopped by today ... to be told first, "We have no units available." Not true. It's the slowest time of the year for self-storage companies in Ohio and th have plenty of units available as you can see on their website.

I asked for more details until she admitted, "I'm choosing not to rent to you. I can refuse service to anyone I want. I'm a manager and that's my privilege."

I asked if it was up to each manager or if this applied to me at all Uncle Bob's locations. She said it was up to each one. But she is the lead manager for all Columbus locations and reports to area manager, Tom, in Cincinnati.

@ Uncle Bob's on Evanswood near I-71 & Morse Rd in Columbus (Manager Mike).

While at my new home unloading stuff from my U-Haul, I called Mike, manager of the location where I moved into in early 2012 -- almost 4 years ago. (I had just spoken to him the previous day and he acted like nothing was wrong when I shared that I was moving the next day; said he'd just called earlier to let me know my insurance proof page wasn't the correct document they wanted ... despite what they told me when I dropped it off a few months ago.)

He knew about me being turned away by his boss, Lisa, at the other location. He confirmed that he had to turn me away too if I wanted an additional or larger unit.

Plus, he had some more bad news. They were evicting me.

My stuff (what wasn't damaged or destroyed by their faulty A/C drainage pipe; something Mike said earlier happens all the time) would be seized and discarded if I didn't move it out by the last of the month -- 17 days later.

He let me know a certified letter was in the mail to inform me of this.

Classy, eh?!?

Elsewhere @ a better, friendlier, fairer self storage business.

So I found a much nicer place where the customer service is fabulous, the facilities superior, and the fine print in the agreement much more customer-friendly and reason all rather than "gotchya" ... a smaller late fee for first 5 days late after 5 days, willingness to waive a late fee when just a few hours past midnight when paid online.

So, choose wisely and store safely.


I'll soon be posting a comparison of various self-storage companies fees and policies. For example:
* Administrative fee (for move-in)
* Late fee (how soon, how much; two/three-tier?; leniency?)
* Insurance
* Locks (BYOL? Have to use theirs? If so, how much?)
* BBB record
* Complaints filed with Ohio Attorney General
* Ratings at various places
* Link to reviews at (helps you find nearest/cheapest/certain size spaces -- I highly recommend you not go with cheapest -- there's usually something missing like good customer service ... and/or you'll wind up paying higher fees or sooner/higher late fees or something that eliminates your savings and leaves you with bad customer service and bad policies).

Good luck with your next move that requires a new storage space. I hope yours goes much better than mine did today with Uncle Bob, Aunt Lisa, Uncle Mike and Uncle Tom.

Uncle Tom's bosses are in New York at home office with their parent company. If they would like to apologize and offer a solution (at least paying to move my stuff they are evicting -- after first ruining much of with water damage from their A/C drainage pipe, see photos below -- to its new home in Westerville), I look forward to hearing from them:

Or they can call me at (614) 889-4TOM

-Tom Stone

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Water damage elsewhere in "air conditioned" Uncle Bob's unit (not their fault, costs them nothing)

I've run across some other interesting stories about how design flaws, equipment failures, and/or poor maintenance have caused similar or worse water damage than I experienced.

As this person learned with her valuable collection, putting things that need to stay dry into one of Uncle Bob's "temperature and/or humidity-controlled units" may make it more vulnerable to water/mold damage than many typical outdoor units (that are cheaper) ... and have no A/C drainage pipes above them ... or other things to clog up and flood down on their belongings.

Collection ALL WET in Uncle Bob's in Tampa Bay

Many homeowners policies do offer coverage for items that are "off premises," she added. This would include a storage unit or even items stolen out of your car at the mall. But the coverage limit is usually low, around $1,000, so customers may need to buy a rider with additional coverage.
"I trusted it was safe because it's air conditioned and climate controlled," explained Angela Porter who lost everything (except a salvaged tattered high school diploma) to water damage that came through the ceiling of her indoor storage unit at Uncle Bob's. *
They advised she should have bought the insurance they sell. But the truth (not covered in news story) is that this type of damage is excluded from coverage even if she'd been paying for the basic plan. *
Her advice to anyone considering putting important property into storage?
"Unless you're willing to check on it every week, don't.”

* NOTE: Highlighted phrases above were
added by me (Tom Stone);
not in the original news story

Legal actions and Better Business Bureau complaints involving similar damage/negligence against Uncle Bob's and Sovran Acquisition, parent company of Uncle Bob's will be compiled here.


"We'll refund your late fee if you get rid of the blog ..."

Well, I was about to delete it before you gave me that ultimatum, Tom. If you can't treat a customer fairly without asking them to stop sharing their opinions about your company ... and the truth about how they mislead and fail them ... then keep your $20 for me being about 1 hour late with my payment.

In return, I'll keep the blog here (with some new posts occasionally) for another 20 weeks ... or maybe 20 months ... or longer.


I thought Uncle Bob's might be understanding enough to refund half of the $20 late fee they charged me for being about 1 hour late -- 1 a.m. on Dec. 6 -- while traveling in Kentucky to visit family for an early Christmas gathering and being stranded where WiFi wasn't working at state park lodge and my Verizon phone couldn't call or text much less pick up 4G or 3G or 1g.

I stopped by and asked. More than a week later, after not hearing back, I stopped by to ask again.

The new manager, Mike (who is awesome), said he and other managers are no longer able to make late fee refunds for any reason and have to take such requests to the regional manager -- Tom in Cincinnati.

He had asked Tom and, Mike reported, that this regional manager said, "We'll refund your late fee if you get rid of the blog."

I was about to delete this blog anyway. But I wanted to have everything done with cleaning up the mess caused by their faulty A/C drainage pipe that ran through my unit and brought a waterfall -- not covered by the rental insurance they force people to buy if they don't have another insurance policy.

Just before I went to the Christmas gathering, I'd spent most of my weekend moving damaged property into new boxes to move into a new unit ... or to discard. Had to wear a mask to filter out the mildew and mold.

The day I stopped by a second time to see if they were going to refund any portion of the $20 late fee on my $48ish/month unit (nearly a 50% "up charge" for being about 60 minutes late), I had one final thing to pick up and fix -- two winter coats that had mildew on them that I was going to take to a laundromat to use some strong cleansers to try to save them. A $500 leather coat was beyond repair and tossed in their dumpster.

MORE DETAILS (than you could possibly care about):

While visiting my family in the middle of nowhere in Kentucky for an early Christmas gathering at a state park (a "dead zone" for 4G/3G/2G/1G on Verizon), I tried to pay my monthly storage fee by midnight. Not only was my phone not getting me to the Uncle Bob payment portal but the state park lodge's WiFi was flaking out. When I finally got it paid, it was a few minutes after midnight (local, Central time; about an hour after midnight in Columbus where my storage unit is).

Coming soon:

-- Details on the rental insurance they force you to buy if you don't have proof of coverage by another policy ... how it compares in cost to what you can buy elsewhere (and how it compares in coverages and exclusions).

-- What's not covered under the policy they sell? Leakage or waterfalls/floods from their own A/C drainage pipes coming from second floor down into first floor storage units (like the one I had). No negligence on their part, they'll claim. Something you signed to store stuff there made them blameless.  Tom, the regional manager, confirmed in a call with me that the type of damage in my unit is excluded from coverage in the policy they sell. "You just had no luck at all," he said.

-- Better Business Bureau ratings of various self storage companies and other storage alternatives -- PODS, etc.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

CEASE FIRE in battle with Uncle Bob

I'm delighted to say that I am declaring a CEASE FIRE in the battle I found myself in with Uncle Bob's Self Storage in Columbus, Ohio.

They're providing me with what I requested originally. They even offered some boxes and tape to help with repacking items not damaged too badly by the water from the A/C drainage pipe that seeped in.

My thanks to Lisa's boss, Tom, in Cincinnati who set things right. I'll be taking down this blog after I make sure nothing else goes crazy wrong in the next few weeks.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Battling with Uncle Bob's Self Storage after their A/C drainage pipe drenches my stuff

BEWARE: When you pay Uncle Bob's Storage to keep your stuff in their "environmentally controlled" area, if their air conditioning drainage pipes create a waterfall into your unit -- damaging your stuff and making a mess -- they will do little to help you.

All I wanted was adequate time to move what was not destroyed into another unit without being charged for the inconvenience. Not possible. They even wanted to charge me a new higher rate every month for the exact size unit next to mine. Absurd answers came from the assistant manager, the manager, and the district manager. This is no way to treat a customer who paid extra for "environmental control" for 3 1/2 years.

In my case, I wasn't asking for anything to be replaced or paid for. I just asked to be given adequate time to move my stuff out of the damp, moldy, damaged unit into a clean one next to me that was empty (and had no A/C drainage pipes). I also wanted to be able to throw out damaged stuff in their dumpster. At first, they wanted to charge me to throw water-damaged stuff away. I finally convinced them to let me throw out the stuff their faulty A/C drainage had damaged at no additional cost.

Then their manager, Meci, said I'd have to pay for both units. I talked to her boss, Lisa, who said Meci was wrong and that they did allow a transfer with no charge for the first 5 days. As I moved items, I found more and more water damage and ruined items. I wasn't going to be able to fix this mess in just the 5 days.

The following weekend, I talked to the assistant manager, Tyler. He figured there was some way for me to pay for the additional days I needed. But, when he called the regional manager (Lisa), she told him to tell me I had to be transferred back to my original unit and move my stuff back in there -- and pay again for the rest of the month for my original unit. I'd already paid for the entire month for my original unit.

Why in the world would I pay them again for my original unit for the same final week of October? I would have been glad to pay 7 days for the new unit while I finished dealing with moving things and getting rid of things that were wet or moldy. Much of what wasn't ruined needed to be reboxed because of the water damage. I wasn't just going to throw a bunch of wet, moldy stuff into my new unit.

When I kept reminding the regional manager, Lisa, that they should feel some responsibility for the inconvenience and be more helpful, she would just keep saying I could have filed an insurance claim. When I pointed out to Meci or Tyler that what they were offering didn't make any sense, they'd just say, "The system won't let me do it any other way."

 As a former retail manager, there's always a way to make things work in a way that makes sense -- even if the typical way to do it in the system makes it tricky. 

Sadly, Uncle Bob's has some of the better people working there when it comes to customer service at self storage places. At places like Public Storage (at least at the one around the corner where most of my stuff is), it's much worse. One Saturday, they never showed up to open.

I just wish that Uncle Bob's managers and regional managers were given more latitude to do the right thing when something like this happens. They seem to be taught to do the ABSOLUTE MINIMUM. That's not good business. And it's certainly not the way to treat someone who has been a customer for more than 3 1/2 years.

Oh, and they think it's fair that when I move to a unit that's not water damaged that I have to start paying a higher price for the same size unit. Why? Because that's policy. That's how they treat anyone else that's transferring from one unit to another.

Surely there's someone at the Uncle Bob's corporation who can think out of the box and realize and approve treating a special situation with differently ... and better. Maybe the person who handles all the Better Business Bureau complaints will be able to come up with a better resolution. We'll see.


LOCATION: Columbus, Ohio; Evanswood Drive (off of Morse Road; near I-71).

Pictures from damaged storage unit (after throwing away a lot of destroyed and damaged property):

The culprit (stopped up A/C drainage pipe that goes through unit on first floor of 2-story "environmentally-controlled" indoor storage units):

I'm not saying don't use Uncle Bob's Self Storage. Of all the bad options out there, they're probably among the better ones.  I just hope somebody who works at that company will have the sense to realize they are not treating me right in this situation and will do something about it ... and make sure that other customers are treated better in the future if they too have a similar accidental WATERFALL befall them.

And if you need a temperature-controlled and/or humidity-controlled unit, beware that it could still get FLOODED by a pipe that's there to run the climate-control systems.  Maybe ask for a unit that has no pipes (other than the required sprinkler system) running through it.

Good Luck!