Abandoned storage units yours to gawk at and bid on

johnboy 11 February 2013 14

Allbids have announced they’re going to be auctioning off whole abandoned storage units:

Similar to the concept behind the popular U.S television series Storage Wars, Storage Showdown sees the entire contents of abandoned storage units going up for unreserved online auction on www.allbids.com.au. Whilst major items within these units can be identified (e.g. whitegoods or furniture), it’s the hidden items – for example, those stored in boxes or behind major objects – where the mystery begins.

“Potential buyers can inspect the units at the storage facility, but they can’t sift through the boxes,” said Richard Hume, Chief Operations Officer of ALLBIDS. “What treasures might be hidden away there is anyone’s guess.”

“It could be electronics, antiques, jewellery or books. It could be art supplies, old university essays, camping equipment or CDs. It could be junk, or goods of incredible value. Either way, you’ll never know unless you have a go,” he explained.

The first Storage Showdown saw three abandoned units from Capital Self Storage sold on www.allbids.com.au. These contained items such as a flat-screen TV, an esky, fans, skis, a ladder, a set of weights, furniture, as well as mysterious boxes of miscellaneous goods.

“We will have around 8-12 storage units up for grabs each month, and with each of these unreserved auctions, bidders are in the running to grab a bargain, make some cash on re-sales, or at least have a great story to tell,” said Richard.

Each auction goes for one week on www.allbids.com.au. Prospective buyers are encouraged to inspect the unit, which they can do up until two days before the auction closes. Once the auction is closed, everything must be removed by the successful bidder. ALLBIDS is offering special terms to re-market saleable goods that are not wanted by the successful buyer.

storage screenshot

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14 Responses to Abandoned storage units yours to gawk at and bid on
AllbidsManagement AllbidsManagement 1:01 pm 13 Feb 13

Thanks for those questions, I’ll answer the car one first. Many of our cars come from dealers and car wholesalers, but we do get a fair few small businesses and private sellers. We shift about 100 cars a month and many of these are under $3,000. The utes typically go for a bit more, but there’s always a bargain. Over the next month we will be introducing a whole range of warranty and roadside assistance options which buyers can take up if they wish.

The privacy question for Storage Showdown is an important one. Firstly, the storage company gives the owner of the property every chance to collect personal items. If that fails, we have strict conditions that the buyer must agree to regarding the return of personal papers and the like.

You can check out all the terms & conditions here: http://www.allbids.com.au/Buy/?T=Entire-Storage-Unit-Contents-U255&ID=540534.

There’s a good summary of our approach, and some comments from Capital Self Storage here: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/.

I’m happy to answer any further questions.

Chief Operating Officer

CanberraBusCatcher CanberraBusCatcher 6:19 pm 12 Feb 13

The privacy considerations is an interesting one. I’ve bought a few storage units via ebay from a seller on the southside and yes there has been an awful lot of paperwork in some of them.

While I enjoyed the experience and made myself about $500 profit in just one unit and over $100 in another it is a little sad. As I was going through the papers and kids drawings etc, I couldn’t help the urge to google the people’s names to find out a little back story (one persons belongings happened to be a friend of a friend of a friend and I managed to return some really important stuff to her).

I kept thinking, what if this person is stuck in some hospital somewhere, struck with some random illness, what if they are on the missing persons list and have arrived at an untimely end, what if they are homeless and desperately need the profit I am making from their own belongings.

In the end, the fact that I didn’t know them (or most of them) and really had no way of finding out their ‘story’ won me over and the guilt didn’t last long.

vet111 vet111 4:41 pm 12 Feb 13

Hey Richard, thanks for posting on here.

Just had a quick question about privacy considerations – how do you ensure that items of a personal nature (ie old credit cards, bank statements, birth certificates etc) are not in the units?

thebrownstreak69 thebrownstreak69 4:13 pm 12 Feb 13

Hey Richard – where do you source the cars from for the allbids website? I’m trying to convince my other half to let me buy a cheapie to tow the trailer with. Thanks.

Sandman Sandman 2:56 pm 12 Feb 13

Well said Richard.

AllbidsManagement AllbidsManagement 2:05 pm 12 Feb 13

Hi everyone and thanks for taking an interest in Storage Showdown. We appreciate the opportunity to read different perspectives and also to give our own. Here are a few “FAQs” from the discussion so far:

Is Storage Showdown simply a way of making money out of others misfortune?
These items are abandoned goods. The circumstances vary, but whatever the reason they need to be removed from the storage unit in preparation for a new customer. If they weren’t auctioned with Allbids, they would almost definitely be sent to landfill. Allbids proves every day that re-use is the best form of recycling. We believe we are doing the community a service by providing a platform for people to salvage these items, rather than just junking them.

As the agent, we are not privy to the personal circumstances of the previous owners. Some may have chosen to voluntarily abandon their goods, others may have not paid their bills to the storage unit supplier. In these cases, customers would have been contacted several times and provided with an opportunity to collect these items, but have opted to surrender them. It is unfortunate when this happens, and clearly a last resort for the storage companies. These situations are covered by industry regulations as well as state and Federal laws.

What do you mean ‘you can’t open boxes?’
As a general rule, we encourage inspection of all items prior to bidding on them. However, due to the crammed nature of some of storage units, it would be very difficult and risky to take out and open every single box, especially if they are hidden behind larger items. The winner of the auction is required to remove all of the items of the unit, and it is then that they just may find themselves in possession of some treasures. The real challenge is to get one person to take away ALL the goods – regardless of their value.

Wouldn’t the storage suppliers go through the boxes themselves prior and sell the good stuff separately?
I can confirm that ALLBIDS has neither the time nor the inclination to open the boxes we describe as “unopened”. If we did so, we would list the contents on our website because this would most likely encourage more bidding.

Why wouldn’t you just donate it to charity?
Charities are greatly restricted in the types of items they receive. Many of the items in the units would not be appropriate to donate to charity. These include damaged items, mattresses, papers and other items of little value.

To go through each unit and sort through the boxes and crates is also not a preferred option for the storage unit supplier. By auctioning off these items to a single bidder as a single lot, they are all able to be taken off the premises and are less likely to end up in landfill. As stated previously, allowing anyone to “cherry-pick” the best items and leave the rest would not solve much at all for the storage company, who need to free up the unit for new customers.

In conclusion, we understand the comments people have made, but would very much like to stress that when an individual can’t pay their bills it would be unfair to label either the storage company or the auction company as “predatory”. The units can’t remain unpaid and unemptied forever; the goods have to go somewhere.

We believe that our ability to return surplus assets to the community, instead of simply sending them to the tip, is not only a service to the vendor and the purchaser, but the most environmentally sustainable way of dealing with these issues.

All the best,
Chief Operations Officer

Madam Cholet Madam Cholet 8:41 am 12 Feb 13

I worked for Kennards Storage when I first arrived in Australia. This sort of thing happened very infrequently. It is sad when it happens and whilst there may not be antiquities with astronomical value contained within, I have seen people really upset because the items had sentimental value, such as items owned by their deceased parents and their childhood memories. It feels to them like they have failed them in some way.

However, they sign contracts when they take out storage, and this would be clearly stated within it.

AsparagusSyndrome AsparagusSyndrome 1:23 am 12 Feb 13

Oh, I am SO there. I really need more stuff to fill my house with. And my garage. And the backyard. I don’t reckon a house is properly occupied until you have to punch holes in the ceiling to fit the stuff in. It’s amazing how much stuff you can pack inside a shower cubicle, or into an unused corner of a bed, or in the kitchen sink, or the fridge. Since they got rid of some of the local charity bins with their piles of free stuff lying all around, I’ve been finding it harder to source. So this is a great idea. Wish I’d heard about it earlier, or read about it in one of those 40,000 newspapers I stacked in the loungeroom. Never seem to have the time to read them.

poetix poetix 9:22 pm 11 Feb 13

Conan of Cooma said :

“Are you a financial predator that likes to make money off other peoples misfortune? In that case, we have just the thing for you…”

There is something really sad about this; the one in the photo is obviously not containing the property of an eccentric millionaire. Note the esky, and the chest of drawers painted olive green.

Why not donate it to charity?

In the end, I still hate capitalism. Bar restaurants and quirky things bought on etsy (-:

1337Hax0r 1337Hax0r 8:43 pm 11 Feb 13

Masquara said :

Yeah roight like they haven’t been through the boxes themselves prior!

My thoughts too.

Masquara Masquara 8:26 pm 11 Feb 13

Yeah roight like they haven’t been through the boxes themselves prior!

1337Hax0r 1337Hax0r 4:55 pm 11 Feb 13

Generally people don’t put highly valuable stuff into storage. Generally auction houses will conduct an inspection of what they are auctioning, and won’t sell valuable items at less than their value. Besides, this whole “you can’t open boxes” during an inspection of items to auction is highly dubious. I used to bid on items at a former Canberra auction house and after being sold a few things that did not meet their specifications I complained to what was then the ACT Better Business Bureau or similar. I was told that at an auction you can’t return an item that you bid on if it does not meet the description, but you must be able to inspect the item prior to the auction.
Clearly inspect means inspect all of the item/s, not just glance over it/them?

gazket gazket 3:06 pm 11 Feb 13

All bids hey. home of the inside dummy bids.

Conan of Cooma Conan of Cooma 2:56 pm 11 Feb 13

“Are you a financial predator that likes to make money off other peoples misfortune? In that case, we have just the thing for you…”

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