Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I Think It's a Staged Unit!

I heard someone say this today. "I think it's a staged unit". Really? I don't think so. I've heard it before, and I sometimes just cringe. First, let's define what a "staged unit" is. A staged unit is one in which the items are displayed in such a way that the bidder thinks there are high quality items in a unit when there are not. A staged unit is an attempt by some jerk to deceive the bidders. A staged unit likely has a big, new box that says "I'm a $1000 flat screen TV, buy me", when in reality, the box is empty. A staged unit is designed to dupe you. Next, let's talk about the people who would do this. The first group of these morons are out to make a profit by renting a storage unit, not paying the bill, letting the unit go into lien status, hoping that there will be an auction, and counting on greedy bidders to pay way more for the unit than what they owe. After all, storage facilities can not keep the profits and must turn over excess funds to the renter. Let's examine this. Someone has to set up a unit to make it look like it's worth thousands, on a unit that they likely owe hundreds on. So after the auction, and the auctioneers commission, and the lien and late charges, they hope to make a profit. If they owe $300, and the unit sells for $3,000, they will make a profit (less of course all the fees). When's the last time you paid $3000 for a unit based on the boxes being marked "TV", or "Buy me - there's something valuable in this box"? Never. In order to make money at this, it takes months and months before a unit goes to auction, and bidders have to be duped enough to fall for it. Frankly, I think this is a lousy way to scam people. Although I've heard rumors of this happening, I've never seen it. At the Storage Auction Kings, we sell thousands of units each year and have never seen it. It's an urban myth folks. It doesn't happen. The odds of it actually happening, and you not seeing it, are less than the odds of the IRS giving you a free bonus on your tax return. The other group of people that might want to "stage" a unit would be the facility manager, hoping to make a little extra on the storage auction. Let's think about this too. For the manager to pull of this scam, they need to ignore every precautionary procedure in place to keep them from getting sued. Like the biggest no-no of all, going into the unit. Assuming that a manager would risk getting fired, they would have to have the time and energy to do this. Most of these managers have much better things to do. Would you risk your job for a few extra bucks? They would likely have to cook the books to get away with it, and that's a great way to land in jail. So why bother? Many of our facilities are corporate-owned or part of a chain. Nobody involved in the auction process here would have anything to gain by staging a unit, and there are many checks and balances in place to make this very difficult. Again, why bother. No one is going to stage a unit, and if someone does, it's a one in a million fluke. SO, why do people think there are staged units? One of two reasons... either the unit is actually organized and neat (which is not uncommon), or you may be looking at a "Manager's Unit". A manager's unit is nothing more than a collection of things surrendered or left behind by multiple tenants. Rather than throwing these things out, the'll be collected and sold at auction along with the regular lien units. This is fairly common. These units are filled gradually over time and are usually fairly neat. The problem is they sometimes don't tell you, or tell us for that matter. Manager's units, or sometimes called morgue units, are perfectly legal and you're no better or worse for buying one. We just wish management would tell us so we can tell you. We do our best to educate, but sometimes it happens. You haven't been duped, cheated, or lied to. You're just buying stuff that's been left behind. End of story. Staged units? Not likely. Questions? Ask your auctioneer. Ask me, I'll clear it up for you. Rich Schur. Champion Auctioneer. Storage Auction Guy.

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