Self-Storage is incredibly useful and has helped thousands of people across the country to better organise their lives and possessions. They are incredibly useful, and can offer fantastic storage solutions for a range of situations. Plus, most companies are happy to speak to you on the phone to arrange special deals and tailor made prices that suit your personal needs. Sometimes when you go on storage comparison websites, or the companies own site, you will see some special offers for renting a new unit. These can seem fantastic but this is not always the case. In this article, we take a look at when special offers aren’t so special, so you can be aware when you go to rent a unit.
Why Use a Storage Unit?
Before we look at the special offers, it is first important to take a look at storage units as a whole. After all, it is important to have an idea of what you want as well as what you plan on using the unit for.
Many people find themselves with a lot of clutter that they don’t want to get rid of but also have no room for. This is where self-storage comes in useful for personal use. After all, it offers large amounts of space for you to store your possessions and it is all in one safe location. However, clutter is often forgotten and the cost of a unit can be an unnecessary one.
So before you decide to rent a unit from a storage company, you should seriously consider whether or not you need to rent one. Are you able to sell or donate some of the items you are looking to store? Is there any room in your loft for them? These are questions you should ask yourself before you look into storage for personal usage.
Branching off from this, and related to it, is the use of storage units for assistance when moving house. It is one of the most stressful events you experience in life. After all, there are mountains of legal paperwork to sign and go through, the stress of waiting, and of course making sure everything is packed.
People who rent storage units to help them move house often do this so that the bulk of their furniture can be stored along with a number of packed boxes. This way, when moving day comes most of the things that need moving are already neatly packed and ready in a unit. Plus, the majority of storage facilities have space for moving vans to park and load. It can make the whole process smoother and easier to manage.
If you are a business owner, then you may also benefit from using self-storage. The units can make a great place for holding stock and important documents. This is because storage facilities are often heavily secured using CCTV, alarms, physical security, and other forms of technology to keep your stored items safe from theft. Often, it is a much more secure place to keep these items than your home or office building.
It can also be incredibly convenient, as many storage units also have offices on the top floors as well as a mail room where they not only provide you with a street address but collect your post and stock deliveries so you can collect them on site. Often, the monthly costs for these services are very reasonable, and it can be hugely beneficial to small business owners – especially as offices often range in size, from room for one or two people to thirty. This depends on the size of the storage facility as well, of course.
Types of Storage Unit
There are three main types of storage that you can choose from when you go to select a unit. Take a look and see which one works for you.
- Warehouse storage. This is the main form of storage used by people who need it, and it is the type you would expect to find from any of the big companies. Generally, it is a large commercial building that has been divided into hundred (or thousands) of individual units for people to use. These can also include outdoor units, which are often a part of these large buildings.
- Container storage. The units consist of large metal shipping containers, and these can be further divided into smaller units. Generally, they are placed in the outside are in an organised manner that allows a person to park up right alongside them for easy loading and unloading. They are often a cheaper option, but the units are exposed to the elements.
- Lock-up garages. This form of storage consists of purpose built garages that are rented out as storage units, a sort of cross between the previous two forms of self-storage. They tend to be less generous than the other forms of storage in terms of size, but do offer very cheap rental prices. They tend to be found in residential areas or near places like airports.
What to Look for in a Storage Company?
When you go to find your ideal storage company there are a few things you should look for aside from special offers (which we will explore as of the next section).
The first is price transparency. While it is fantastic that companies can offer you tailor made prices over the phone, it can be reassuring to know that there is a set price clearly displayed online for you to look at and think over. Around 30% of storage companies in the UK are currently taking part in price transparency, which shows its increasing demand and popularity among customers.
The next is reputation. Before you select your company you should be looking through the web for reviews and customer experiences. You can find out how they handle complaints, the things they do well, and the overall quality of their service. Reviews are key for finding out how reputable a company is and you should always check them out before committing.
You should also be looking for accessibility and suitability with regards to your needs. Do the opening hours for the unit work for you? Are you able to get a truck into the area should you need it for loading and unloading? These are just some of the questions you should be asking when deciding which company to go with. After all, there is no point going for a unit that is cheap but doesn’t have half the things you need.
What are the staff like? When you speak to the staff on the phone, note how they treat you carefully. If they are polite and helpful when it comes to sorting out queries and potential issues, you are more likely to have a good experience. If they are indifferent and more interested in how quickly you plan to start renting the unit, it is best to approach with some caution. The attitude of the staff can tell you a lot about how a company will not only treat you, but value you.
Always visit the site before you commit. If you have found a company that you are interested in and you think will work well for you, don’t just agree over the phone. Let them know you wish to view the facility and the type/size of unit you are interested in renting. This way, you get a feel for what the facilities are like as well as the staff. A good company will have staff members take you around the entire facility as well as your chosen unit and give you an extensive tour – listing all of the great additional features you will benefit from. This includes things like security systems and privileges you might be entitled to. Looking before you buy is something that people forget more often than they should, so make sure you remember this one.
What are Special Offers?
When a company states that they have a special offer either on their website or over the phone, this will usually be something introductory. Typically, it will involve a percentage of money off your first month’s (or more) rent. This could be anything from 10% to 75%. It all depends on the company you are looking at.
These can be great because they save you a good chunk of money. Some special offers will even include a free deposit, saving you even more. These offers are the most tempting because the deposit on a unit can be quite hefty. Some offers may even include little freebies, like padlocks or free insurance for a specified amount of time.
Some special offers for small businesses will include office space and a postal address/box for a massively discounted price for a specified amount of time. This is an excellent offer and one that is hard for most business owners to refuse. After all, it leaves you with everything conveniently in one place so you can focus on work.
Special offers look and sound fantastic, and it can be very exciting to think about how much money you could save. Some of these offers really are special, but there are others that are not. I researched and called up some of the biggest self-storage companies in the UK to see just how special their offers were.
While company names cannot be mentioned here, the next section takes a look at what can make special offers not so special.
The Truth Behind Special Offers
The main thing with special offers is reading the small print. Whether you are in the supermarket or looking at storage unit prices, special offer labels are designed to highlight the amount of money you save, while the terms and conditions are left in tiny font that you barely notice. To see the truth behind your special offer, you need to read this.
Much of the time, you will find yourself paying for that free/discounted month, insurance, or free deposit later on. Once your special offer ends in a month (or longer, depending), the monthly cost of your unit is likely to increase. Usually, you will find this in the terms and conditions or listed in your contract.
When the price increases, you end up paying for the things you thought you saved on, so in hindsight you are saving nothing. This is also the case for special offers on things like office space and a postal address being included in the price at a discounted rate. The cost for these can go up very quickly, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and unsure when everything became so expensive compared to previous months.
This is the trap people fall into most commonly, and it is easy to do when the offers are made to look so good. As a result, people don’t end up reading the small print because they put their trust into the company. Plus, you need to make sure that the price you signed up for is the price you pay, and that the company have not included hidden costs – something that will be looked at in the next and final section.
When speaking to these storage companies on the phone, the majority of them agreed with and took me through the offers I found online. However, some ended up disputing them and even trying to push me towards different ones that were not listed on their website. I determined that most of the time these new offers were costlier both now and in the long run. The special offers they had listed turned out to be not so special as it didn’t even seem as though they existed when talking to staff.
If you adamantly want a special offer that you have seen (and carefully read) online, always stand your ground. Speak with a manager if necessary. Some of these companies appear to want to take advantage of customers and their agreeable natures. This can cause problems for everyone in the future, so make sure you put your foot down and demand the offer you came for.
The Dangers of Hidden Costs
Hidden costs can be a huge problem for customers that rent units from companies. When you enter a contract with the storage company, you must comply with everything listed within it – and this includes hidden costs. One of the benefits of price transparency is that things like this have to be listed clearly on the website with the rest of the pricing. However, when you are looking at special offer or talking about them on the phone, the topic can often be avoided.
Hidden costs include little things like needing to purchase a padlock from the company instead of providing your own. This can be inconvenient, especially if you have already purchased your own, but the cost does not usually exceed £10 and there is often a range of them available. Often, you will have the choice between key padlocks and ones that use number or letter combinations, so you at least know there is likely to be one you like there.
Sometimes, hidden costs can include a monthly rise in the price for things like maintenance of your unit and the surrounding area. For hidden costs such as this, it is especially vital that you read the small print and contract very carefully before signing. This way, you can discover by how much the rent can go up at a time and the time period they have to inform you in. This can be a bothersome hidden fee and many opt to use a different company should this be included. This is not a common hidden cost to encounter.
There is also the issue of insurance, and this can be included as a hidden cost. Most storage companies will have a range of insurance policies that you can choose from, and the fee for that insurance will be added onto the rent of your unit. It can be inconvenient for some, especially if they would rather use an insurance company of their choice. However, as a plus to this particular hidden cost, most companies will have a range of policies for you to choose from so you won’t end up with something that doesn’t cater to your needs and the type of items you are storing.
Related to hidden costs is the potential for the increase in monthly fees without any warning. Most companies will state that you will have around one month to prepare for an increase in rental fees. However, there are some that state in the contract that they may raise the cost at any time and without warning. Many people have missed this in the contracts and ended up with incredibly expensive units due to unexpected price increases that they agreed to in the contract without realising.
So while not all hidden costs are inherently bad, it is important that you know exactly what you are paying for before you sign the contract. This way, you can agree to additional fees that you don’t mind paying, and can discover if there are any that you are against. It is vitally important to know what you are buying so that you don’t end up in an expensive contract that you cannot get out of for another year (or possibly more).
Special offers can be great, especially if you need something inexpensive to start with. It can be even better if these special offers include office space and other facilities if you are a small business owner. A lot of the time, these offers are legitimate and stuck to without any issues, but a good deal of the time you can find yourself subjected to price hikes and hidden costs you didn’t realise you agreed to.
Before you sign the contract for your storage unit, make sure you read the contract carefully so that you know exactly what you are paying for each month and also if you are going to be subjected to increases in the monthly rent, or charged for additional services you might not use. With the advice given here on special offers, and that on how to select your ideal unit, you should be prepared to go out and get comparing self-storage facilities.