Help! Mice ate my rugs in a CubeSmart storage facility

Cubesmart storage problems with mice

The climate-controlled CubeSmart storage facility Alex Packer rents has a small problem. He claims mice ate several kilim rugs — and a leather sofa and chair. Will the company fix the damage?

Question

I recently stored some household items in a climate-controlled CubeSmart storage facility. Based on the recommendation of local staff, and the brochure they gave me, I purchased an insurance policy to protect my possessions.

When I retrieved my items, I discovered that six vintage, hand-made Egyptian kilim rugs were destroyed, and a leather sofa and chair were severely damaged. The loss totaled over $20,000.
I immediately reported the damage to the site manager, who was sympathetic and apologetic and took photos. And I also took pictures.

I quickly filed a claim with the insurance company. The insurance company denied the claim because my policy doesn’t cover damage by vermin, insects, or rodents. I found it disappointing and remarkable that a policy recommended by the storage facility would not cover such a loss.

In the meantime, I got an estimate of $2,200 from a leather repair “magician” to restore the leather sofa and chair. As that was less than the cost of a comparable new set, I went ahead with the repair.

Cubesmart storage problems

I wrote to the manager at the local CubeSmart facility requesting that CubeSmart cover that cost. I did not ask for any payment for the destroyed rug. To me, this was a fair and modest request given that my belongings were in CubSmart’s care in a climate-controlled unit.

I don’t think it unreasonable to have expected that my property would be safe. Surely it is CubeSmart’s responsibility to ensure that a climate-controlled facility would be free from vermin, insects, or rodents, or, at the very least, that the insurance they recommend would cover such losses.

The local manager forwarded my email to a more senior manager who would “check with the Risk Management department” and get back to me. I received no reply. I wrote again. Again, no response.

During this period I was in regular touch with the local, on-site facility manager. He was at all times courteous, helpful, and, frankly, embarrassed by, and apologetic about, the absence of any response from the higher-ups. He sent his emails to management asking about the status of my request.

Finally, I received word through the local manager of the “corporate” decision. There was not anything they can do. I would like reimbursement for the cost of the repairs to my furniture. Can you help? — Alex Packer, Sperryville, Va.

Answer

CubeSmart shouldn’t have allowed mice, or any other kind of nibbling pest, to invade your storage facility. And, if it did, then the company should have taken responsibility for the damage — especially if you bought its insurance policy.

I can’t believe the insurance didn’t cover mice. I would think that’s the first thing the insurance would address. Your policy from a company called Great American Insurance Group, came with several interesting exclusions beyond “insects, vermin or rodents.” It also didn’t cover certain weather conditions, wear and tear, or “any quality in the property that causes it to damage or destroy itself.” I wonder how that clause got there. Must be some story behind that one.

You were correct to lower your damage claim. CubeSmart’s rules and regulations specify that you can’t store items with an aggregate value of more than $5,000 unless the owner has expressly consented in writing to a higher value. The rules also highly recommend insurance, which, of course, doesn’t cover ravenous rodents.

An impressive paper trail

You gathered an impressive paper trail of correspondence between you and the business. You also did this one by the book. What do I mean? You kept it polite, escalated your case to a supervisor, and never gave up. Well done!

I publish the names, numbers, and email addresses of CubeSmart’s customer service executives on my consumer advocacy site. You might have reached out to them, too.

I contacted CubeSmart on your behalf. It reviewed your case and agreed to cover the damage to your leather sofa. It also asked you to sign a non-disclosure statement, presumably to prevent this story from being published. I should note that you signed the document after telling me your story.

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