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Keep Houston Press Free
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Public Storage Inc. -- Protecting You From Your Belongings

In the midst of natural disasters like Hurricane Ike, some businesses find a way to both help the community and land new clients. To wit: When Ike was ready to pounce on the Gulf Coast, U-Haul offered a free 30-day storage space deal for people in Ike’s path. A U-Haul spokeswoman told Hair Balls this was a no-strings-attached offer that functioned on the “honor system” (no one was required to provide documentation proving they lived in Ike’s path).

Then there are those companies that crib from the Montgomery Burns School of Releasing the Hounds, which is what Public Storage appears to have done in the instance of at least one Houston storage facility.

We were alerted to a strange contract that customers of a Public Storage facility on Westheimer were told they had to sign, releasing the company of liability for any damaged contents before the customers could even look inside their units.

Moreover, even though the storm hit Sept. 12, it appears that Public Storage didn’t notify customers their possessions might be damaged until October 1 – allowing the company to collect another month’s worth of rent.

The contract states: “Public Storage has recommended that the contents be thrown away, disposed of and not retained. That knowledge notwithstanding, I insist on viewing the contents and retrieving any items that I desire at my own risk. I also understand I may sustain injury and/or illness in viewing or touching or handling the contents.” (Insisting on looking at your own crap?! Not taking a company’s word that it’s all ruined? The nerve!)

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Since there are very few reported human deaths stemming from close contact with wet clothes or furniture, one might think the company is concerned about toxic mold, which begs the question: how many HAZMAT-suited environmental experts did Public Storage hire to analyze the contents of each unit?

This is but one of the questions we had for Public Storage spokesman Clem Tang, who said he’d get back to us after he cleared things through the Public Storage Powers That Be. We still have yet to hear from Clem.

But even if we do hear back from him, he won’t be able to speak to us without signing our own contract, which states, in part: “Hair Balls has recommended that anyone whose head is lodged in their ass correct this situation before proceeding with an interview. That knowledge notwithstanding, I insist on keeping my head firmly ensconced in my ass, at my own risk.”

-- Craig Malisow

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