Storage Guide: Estimates

By Staff

Storage companies will generally provide an estimate on request. Before accepting your goods for storage the storage company must provide you with a written cost estimate which is usually free of charge although in some states a maximum nominal fee can be applied. It is important to stress that the choice of company should not be based solely on price.

Remember the cheapest estimate may have the worst service and the last thing you need is to take your important business documents or home furnishings out of storage after a period of time and find they have been damaged due to poor service. The estimate a warehouse will give you differs from an estimate a mover can give you in the sense that no extra charges can be applied without being agreed to by the customer.

The storage facilities reputation must always be considered. Ask family and friends and business colleagues for referrals and check with the better business bureau on any complaints they have on file on a particular warehouse you may be looking in to and how these were resolved. It is highly recommended that you obtain at least three estimates before making a final decision. All estimates must be based on the warehouse operator physically inspecting the items to be stored in person and you should always receive a written copy of the estimate. If you are offered an estimate over the phone do not accept this and think twice about using this company.

Here is a guide on what to expect in an estimate.

  • Name, address and telephone number of company

  • Address of actual storage location (this may be different from the office location especially in larger companies)

  • Warehouse storage rate per unit

  • Minimum monthly storage charges

  • Minimum number of month's storage

  • Any applicable charges for storage preparation, padding or packing

  • Any charges applied for transportation if this service is available and accepted

  • Other charges the warehouse may apply

In the rare case where you may want the warehouse operator to accept your goods without physically inspecting them first you will be asked to sign a statement waiving your right to a written estimate and you will be required to sign this also. Within five days of receipt of your goods the warehouse operator must send you a statement based on the actual examination of your goods detailing the monthly charges and any packing and special storage condition charges. This statement should also include any limitations on liability for negligent loss or damage.

The cost of storage can vary depending on the options you decide to accept. The basic cost will cover items such as light, electricity, insurance, security and pest control. In order to calculate the actual costs it is important to think through the storage options you NEED. I stress the word need because if your goods do not require conditioned storage to remain in good condition it is probably not worth paying for it, however if your goods do need special storage conditions it is advisable to pay for it as it will be worth it in the end. For example, paper products going in to storage should be stored in rooms that have humidity control. You will pay extra for environmentally controlled rooms such as temperature and humidity control and you will also pay extra for non standard insurance.

A warehouse must insure goods against loss or damage for a minimum of about $0.30 per pound per article up to $2,000. The figure may vary slightly depending on the state. If your antiques china set weighing 10 pounds and valued at $1,500 is broken in the warehouse you would be entitled to the tidy sum of $3.00. You may want to take out additional insurance and the warehouse operator is required to inform you that additional insurance is available. Be sure you understand what the insurance covers in the unlikely event any goods become damaged. For example if you take out $3,000 worth of insurance on $12,000 worth of goods, i.e. 1/4 of the value, if there is $4,000 worth of damage you would be covered for only $1,000 of the loss.