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Self Storage Sob Story: Grandma Loses Grandson’s Ashes

CJ Moore | August 18, 2010 @ 12:41 PM

He Said | CJ Moore

This is a self storage sob story. Here’s the Spark Notes’ version: Grandma is late on her monthly payment; gets notice in the mail; is late again; belongings get auctioned off, including a box containing her grandson’s ashes; Grandma is devastated and contacts local newspaper to tell her story. Yeah, this story pulls on the heartstrings, but I have a hard time feeling bad for Ann Bressette, the poor grandmother who lost some of her belongings and her grandson’s ashes. To begin with, what in the world was she doing storing her grandson’s ashes in a storage unit!? Things to store: Furniture, books, old clothes, athletic equipment. Things to keep at home: Your animals, food, your grandson’s ashes. I cannot think of one good reason to keep ashes in a storage unit. Some people have their ashes spread in places they love. Some relatives keep ashes in a vase and in a safe place. On your mantel might be an appropriate place, but not a storage unit. As for the auction, Bressette tries to make herself out to be a victim, saying she never received a notice. But all indications are that Secure Storage went through the proper channels and did send a letter. The storage facility followed the law, and even kept some pictures to give Bressette. It’s not the storage facility’s job to make sure Grandma doesn’t make a regrettable decision. The storage facilities often get made out to be the bad guy in these situations, but they are running a business. They cannot rent out space for free and stay in business. And if Bressette knew she was late on her payments and didn’t want to lose her belongings, why didn’t she actually visit Secure Storage and try to figure out a payment plan? Have you heard any good post-auction sob stories? Do you think Secure Storage could have done anything else? Please share in the comments’ section below.

She Said | Carrie Royce

CJ makes some valid (and typical dude) points about Ann Bressette and her grandson’s lost ashes, but where’s the compassion? Yes, every company’s goal should be to make money, but every business should also want a positive image in the community. Think about how much goodwill could have been done by helping Bressette come up with a plan to keep her self storage unit and save her grandson’s ashes. …Okay wait, I can’t write this with a straight face. When I first read CJ’s blog post, I said, “Whoa Ceej, we can’t publish that on StorageFront! It’s practically hostile.” CJ would not back down from his frank perspective, “I call ‘em like I see ‘em.” So I told him I’d write a softer, more motherly counterpoint in “He Said, She Said” format. Then I read the full article detailing Ann Bressette’s woes in the Boston Herald. And to be honest with you, I agree with CJ. The first thing that bothered me was Ms. Bressette’s numerous excuses for not contacting the storage facility during her financial strain. Then on the very day she’s about to show up in person, her daughter receives a call? Come on. Since the company had granted her an extension on her rent during the previous winter when she was behind, it stands to reason that a simple phone call or visit might have earned the same kindness from Secure Storage. This facility is obviously not run by jerks. Secondly, I’m not buying the innocent ignorance. She claimed she didn’t receive an overdue letter or auction notice, although she somehow received bills later. Secure Storage abided by legal process and sent notice by certified letter, which garnered a Bressette signature. The company also placed auction notices in the local paper for weeks. Finally, the financials don’t add up. She said she had stored $40,000 to $50,000 worth of goods in a 10x20 self storage unit for months and months, yet she can’t afford to pay the $160 monthly rent? Can anybody say “Craigslist”? That last part cinched it for me. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to find that she has retained the services of an attorney. Lost ashes, sudden yet steady financial hardship, thousands of dollars in lost value? I need to pull on some B.S. boots. Yes, it’s sad that she lost her handpainted box full of remains. And if you read Marketing Ahead, you know I’m a big proponent of building a positive self storage image via community communications and compassion. But in this case, it’s exactly as CJ said: a sob story. Kudos to Secure Storage for their attempt to save the photographs. Please share your comments below.

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