T Nation

They took all my stuff and sold it


#1

Edited

Some years ago I rented a storage shed because I was running out of room in my house. Last January I went into hospital for a few months and I set up my bank to transfer payments to the storage company automatically each month. Anyway, I went there the other day and I was locked out. I just spoke to management yesterday and they said my account was in arrears and so they'd sold all my stuff to cover a few hundred dollars that I was supposed to be in debt to them. They tried to phone me apparently but the number on their system is an old one.

This is really bad news for me. Nearly my entire life possessions are gone including a huge library of rare and valuable books, paintings, art work etc and all the family heirlooms that my parents left me when they died including my mother's diamond wedding ring. Irreplaceable stuff and a library and collection that I invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in. There's so much stuff I can't remember it all and much if it was valuable and uninsured.

I know I can't get my stuff back and obviously I need to find out if/when I went into arrears, how much and why they sold my stuff when I was still transferring monthly storage fees to them. It's not as if the debt(if there was any) was increasing because I was paying the monthly fee each month.

Can anyone offer any legal advice? How can they sell tens of thousands of dollars worth of antiques, jewellery, and artwork to cover a(n alleged) debt of a few hundred dollars?


#2

I have nothing to help you with here. But from the bottom of my heart, I am sorry man.

Something a long the same lines…(kinda sorta) happened to my ex. I feel incredibly bad for people in your situation. You gotta be a shit bag to do that to someone regardless of what the “rules/agreement” state.

Best of luck figuring it out.


#3

Sorry to hear that SM. If you were still making payments, I’d look into legal counsel. If you weren’t, I’d look at their policy as far as time frame and stuff. Also, look into whether this is a recurring theme at that storage space. You might not be the only person that this has happened to, slim chance (???) but worth looking into. I don’t really see how they could sell more than what you owed, but I don’t know the details or rules of these things.


#4

I am so sorry.

That absolutely sucks beyond words.


#5

I agree, it’s awful. I’m sorry.


#6

You didn’t have room for your moms wedding ring at your house?

At least you still have your health


#7

Sounds really fucking dirty to me. If they had other information on you, new contact information wouldn’t have been hard to find. Sorry, man.


#8

I would speak to the owner and ask for an explanation of why it was necessary to sell off thousands to reclaim hundreds. I have a hard time understanding how someone could do that and look himself in the mirror.

Contact the Australian equivalent of The Better Business Bureau, if it exists.

Get an explanation of their actions in writing. Get a copy of your entire account history with them and cross-reference it with your personal account history of payments you made.

Consider contacting the police. If you have any evidence of a crime, definitely contact police. Speak to any local government officials who will listen to your story. Let them know about the business practices there.

If you have the means, talk to a lawyer.

Best of luck to you. I don’t know that any of this will get you anywhere, but give them hell anyway you can.


#9

Thanks everyone. The terms and conditions say if your account is “outstanding” for 40 days and you don’t respond or they can’t reach you then they just sell all your stuff. I think the reason they sell it all is because they take the storage locker back so there’s no where to keep unsold stuff. Anyway, I need to look into if/how I did get into arrears and if I have any legal recourse here.


#10

[quote]twojarslave wrote:
Best of luck to you. I don’t know that any of this will get you anywhere, but give them hell anyway you can.
[/quote]

Yea. Give them hell. They took a large chunk of your life over a couple hundred dollars. I’d go postal if something like this happened to me.


#11

[quote]SexMachine wrote:
Thanks everyone. The terms and conditions say if your account is “outstanding” for 40 days and you don’t respond or they can’t reach you then they just sell all your stuff. I think the reason they sell it all is because they take the storage locker back so there’s no where to keep unsold stuff. Anyway, I need to look into if/how I did get into arrears and if I have any legal recourse here.[/quote]

Same racquet here in the US. I think these guys set it up to take advantage of these “opportunities”. Your story is very similar to that of a personal friend of mine. She had a minor hiccup in her payments from switching credit cards or something like that. She got a month behind on her payments but was unaware of that fact and they sold all her stuff.


#12

Someone mentioned Australia. If you’re Australian this is almost certainly illegal. Your state will have specific rules (check abandoned goods) but they can’t sell your shit, they MUST give you formal notice first.

If they had a debt with you, they have to prove the debt via first making every effort to get it back themselves. Then having the debt formalised by a magistrate and having an order on you to pay it.

Make a list of your shit.

Put a value next to it.

Go to a lawyer. Do the free first consultation thing, they’ll tell you it’s cut and dry.


#13

[quote]on edge wrote:

[quote]SexMachine wrote:
Thanks everyone. The terms and conditions say if your account is “outstanding” for 40 days and you don’t respond or they can’t reach you then they just sell all your stuff. I think the reason they sell it all is because they take the storage locker back so there’s no where to keep unsold stuff. Anyway, I need to look into if/how I did get into arrears and if I have any legal recourse here.[/quote]

Same racquet here in the US. I think these guys set it up to take advantage of these “opportunities”. Your story is very similar to that of a personal friend of mine. She had a minor hiccup in her payments from switching credit cards or something like that. She got a month behind on her payments but was unaware of that fact and they sold all her stuff.[/quote]

That’s exactly what happened. I’m not even sure how I got overdue when the payments were going in automatically each month. I’m going to have to go through my bank statement and the payments I’ve made to them and see if I actually did go into arrears. I’m also going to speak to consumer affairs as twojarslave suggested.


#14

[quote]tsantos wrote:
Someone mentioned Australia. If you’re Australian this is almost certainly illegal. Your state will have specific rules (check abandoned goods) but they can’t sell your shit, they MUST give you formal notice first.

If they had a debt with you, they have to prove the debt via first making every effort to get it back themselves. Then having the debt formalised by a magistrate and having an order on you to pay it.

Make a list of your shit.

Put a value next to it.

Go to a lawyer. Do the free first consultation thing, they’ll tell you it’s cut and dry.[/quote]

The terms and conditions say 40 days outstanding and they can probably argue that they had no where to store the stuff so had to sell it all or something. But I’m definitely going to get to the bottom of this. So much irreplaceable and valuable stuff gone forever.


#15

Terms and conditions do not matter, they can’t trump the law. For example, I can say that there are no returns and all sales are final as part of my sales terms and conditions but if you sell my a toaster, which you told me makes toast, and it ends up being a novelty clock radio you have to take it back and refund my money.

You’re very kind BTW, I’d be going to the police. Not consumer affairs. Hope you get adequately compensated


#16

[quote]SexMachine wrote:

[quote]tsantos wrote:
Someone mentioned Australia. If you’re Australian this is almost certainly illegal. Your state will have specific rules (check abandoned goods) but they can’t sell your shit, they MUST give you formal notice first.

If they had a debt with you, they have to prove the debt via first making every effort to get it back themselves. Then having the debt formalised by a magistrate and having an order on you to pay it.

Make a list of your shit.

Put a value next to it.

Go to a lawyer. Do the free first consultation thing, they’ll tell you it’s cut and dry.[/quote]

The terms and conditions say 40 days outstanding and they can probably argue that they had no where to store the stuff so had to sell it all or something. But I’m definitely going to get to the bottom of this. So much irreplaceable and valuable stuff gone forever.[/quote]

No where to store it? They’re a storage facility and you were making regular payments for storage. Total bullshit, but my guess is your screwed. Maybe you can try to charge them with theft since they were taking your monthly payments even after they sold all your stuff. Is that the case?


#17

For what it’s worth, they may have a record of who bought it.


#18

[quote]comus3 wrote:
For what it’s worth, they may have a record of who bought it. [/quote]

Right. SM, you should try and see if you can track down the sentimental stuff. I suspect they sold it in one lot to the highest offer.

And see a lawyer right now. I don’t know anything about Aussie law. I’d offer to help more, but I’d just be guessing and you need to know exactly what your rights are.


#19

[quote]tsantos wrote:
Terms and conditions do not matter, they can’t trump the law. For example, I can say that there are no returns and all sales are final as part of my sales terms and conditions but if you sell my a toaster, which you told me makes toast, and it ends up being a novelty clock radio you have to take it back and refund my money.
[/quote]

Yes I understand the obligations and duties of the agent in a contractual relationship. I did a little consumer law and from what I remember there’s a legal relationship that pawn brokers have that is different from the duties and obligations of someone at a coat room who takes your property for a specific time and so on. But I was going to say I’ll look it up in my old consumer law textbook but that was stored in my library which is now gone forever. I’m a bibliophile and all the hundreds of rare, Out Of Print and antiquarian books are worth a lot of money if you know where to sell them. Another thing gone is hundreds of DVDs and Blurays that are mostly region 1/A(North America) and won’t even play in a local DVD player. I spent years collecting rare films and created a library of all the best classic westerns, film noir, crime/thriller/mystery films of the studio era(/40’s and 50’s to early 60’s). Anyway, I want to emphasise how much personal and financial loss I’ve incurred here. I’m a collector and along with all the other stuff I’ve lost my collections entirely.

[quote]

You’re very kind BTW, I’d be going to the police. Not consumer affairs. Hope you get adequately compensated[/quote]

Thanks. But the police would just direct me to consumer affairs because it’s not a criminal matter - at least, it’s not yet. I’m going to do everything within my power to get recompense for this. I’m not going soft on them I can assure you.


#20

[quote]jjackkrash wrote:

[quote]comus3 wrote:
For what it’s worth, they may have a record of who bought it. [/quote]

Right. SM, you should try and see if you can track down the sentimental stuff. I suspect they sold it in one lot to the highest offer.

And see a lawyer right now. I don’t know anything about Aussie law. I’d offer to help more, but I’d just be guessing and you need to know exactly what your rights are. [/quote]

Another fucking lawyer? Always with the lawyers. Thousands and thousands of dollars. I’ve spent a lot on lawyers recently and I’m not too keen to shell out at this stage. I’ll look into myself and see how much of his work I can do for him and make sure I’ve got something first and so on.