SAN JOSE (CBS 5) — A CBS 5 ConsumerWatch investigation revealed the insurance that Public Storage employees encourage you to buy when you rent a locker may not provide the coverage you expect. Now we’re learning more about that from an insider.

“Insurance is required,” is what CBS 5 heard from a Public Storage employee during the undercover investigation. It’s a statement that sounds all too familiar to former Public Storage manager Cody Fawcett.

Fawcett said selling insurance was all part of the sales pitch he was taught during training. But Fawcett said he soon found out, “Insurance is not required. There’s nowhere in the system that would prevent us from renting you a unit if you don’t have insurance.”

According to Fawcett, employees continue to push the insurance because they have a quota to meet. “Every ten rentals we had to get at least eight people to sign up for insurance, otherwise we would get reprimanded, with the constant threat of firing if we didn’t meet our numbers,” Fawcett said.

A Public Storage spokesperson told CBS 5 there are no quotas and no one has been terminated for not selling insurance. They say insurance, whether or not it’s from Public Storage, is required.

The company website said that too. But CBS 5 found no mention of the requirement in the rental agreement that customers sign. And lawyers tell us if it’s not in the agreement, it’s not required.

So what exactly is Public Storage trying to sell you? It’s an insurance program provided through Willis Insurance Services, and our investigation revealed many complaints about it.

“I thought it was ridiculous,” Ana Leon said. Despite a police report and the recovery of some of her stolen items in a neighboring locker, Willis denied her claim. There have been 22 burglaries at her San Jose facility in the past two years. “They said sorry, there is no evidence of forceful entry,” Leon said.

After her story aired, CBS 5 ConsumerWatch received dozens of comments and emails from viewers with similar tales, like Diana Arce. When Arce lost her home to foreclosure, she stored all her possessions at the Oyster Point Public Storage in South San Francisco.

When her storage locker was broken into, Arce lost everything else. “I was shocked, I was upset,” she said. Even more shocking is what the police told her after.

“He said that he had responded to other break-ins at the same storage place, and that there was a hole in the fence and that the burglars were coming through that fence,” Arce said.

Police told CBS 5 there have been nine break-ins here in just the past year. Just like in Ana Leon’s case, Arce sent in her lock, only to have her claim denied and the insurance company refused to send it back.

“They told me that I didn’t have proof of forcible entry,” Arce said. “I think their insurance is a complete scam. It would be different if I didn’t pay for insurance. But I paid for insurance.”

Fawcett said he is not surprised. He said denied claims were commonplace when he worked at Public Storage. “I think I had a total of three people that had gone through and had it successful,” he said. Fawcett’s advice: “I wouldn’t buy it. It doesn’t cover anything anyway.”

So what can you do to protect yourself? Often, your homeowners or renters policy will cover storage. But be sure to check. And protect yourself, you should definitely do an inventory list and take pictures of everything.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (46)
  1. Cody Fawcett says:

    here it is. at the point PS says there is no quotas, they are lying through there spokes-holes teeth. at 07043 in novato we were informed we would have 80%+ ore we could find new jobs, and that same threat was made to every property manager in the district. my wife towards the end of her time there refused to even mention the product because it was an obvious fraud and a scam. she was terminated. seems awfully coincidental.

    PS can go fly a kite in a lightning storm.

  2. Lynne Price says:

    I’m glad to see this story published. I lost a lot of my possessions in a PS facility, because I wasn’t savvy enough to ask enough questions when I had a break-in, They sent me a check for $$. I couldn’t argue because I cashed the check. Understandable. But I just didn’t know how to fight PS. I gave up – and lost most of my belongings. My loss seemed to be an inside job; no one would have known anything of my belongings, but when the bill was paid at the wrong facility – and the amount of $$ paid for insurance was viewed at the wrong facility – the locker at the RIGHT facility was virtually cleaned out . Their contract covered them. Not me. I never argued it because I didn’t know HOW to argue it. Years later, seeing the news report brings back bad memories. I wish I had known how to fight them. I would have never settled.

  3. Becky Hogue says:

    I am glad to see that the insurance scam at PS is out there in the open now. I have a unit in SF at the 10th street location and there was a water pipe breakage and my unit got lots of water in it and so I called Willits and filled out all the paper work and was told yes there was water damage but no they did not pay for anything that was ruined. They made me a small offer but I had to sign there paper work and get it notarized, which would have costed more than they were offering. I canceled the insurance.

  4. Ex Public Storage Manager says:

    I assume they got their info on the “no quotas” and “no-one has ever been terminated” from head office. Who they should be asking is the Regional President about it. He is the one pushing his regional and District managers to sell not only the insurance but also the locks. Property Managers are also forced to sell the public storage locks with each rental or face similar threats and reprimands in the form of written warnings. All of these facilities fall under the control of the one Regional President in the North Bay area is that a coincidence or what? is he lining his pockets with bonuses from these sales…you can bet your life on it.

    P.S. Well done Cody for outing them.

    1. Cody Fawcett says:

      Well said Ex Public Storage Manager
      there is entirely way to much corruption in the company. they should have an undercover journalist get a job with PS so they can actually record the wrong doings.

      all this makes me wish i would have recorded a few of our district meetings to put this all out in the open.


  5. Danny Miller says:

    I work for Esurance. Typically, homeowners and renters insurance policies cover items in a storage unit, but coverage and coverage amounts vary by company and individual policy. Consumers should check directly with their insurance carrier or agent to see whether their existing homeowners or renters insurance policy includes coverage for property kept off premises.

  6. Jane Storage says:

    You have no idea how many PS employees out there appreciate CBS 5 for shedding light on this issue.
    I’m not located in California, I’m in the Southeast region.
    Is it illegal to advise or insinuate to our customers that Willis Insurance is required?

  7. Kathy DeWitt says:

    Managers were pushed to sell insurance and locks. Most people brought their own locks because PS locks were more expensive and not as good as ones you could get at the hardware store. Managers were reprimanded if they did not meet “sales goals”. Managers were also responsible for delinquent accounts even though managers had no skip-tracing methods or “tools” at their disposal for customers who skipped out. The fear of termination was always hanging over managers’ heads.

  8. amy says:

    Wow. I am so glad to work for a small family owned facility.

    I would love to see the CBS national news do a special on this.

    So many families are downsizing where there whole life is in a 10×10 space.

    It is a shame to see someone who is a perfectly decent person victimized

    when they are already in a delicate state, such as divorce or foreclosure.

    As many times this is the case, the people taking advantage of these people deserve to be caught and brought before the public nationwide.

    Thanks sincerely for the good reporting work, it is nice to see that real

    journalism is still alive.

  9. Jane Storage says:

    Thanks KBL for the attachment.

  10. ex loyal manager that wasnt fired says:

    You people are Morons. All public storage customers are required to have insurance on there goods in storage. One option is the Willis storage insurance program. It sounds like all these ex managers are angry and bitter since they no longer have jobs with the company. There are no quotas. People can bring there own lock and decline the insurance. The #1 priority is the rental.

  11. kad says:

    Don’t know where you worked, “ex” but our site had “sales goals” for locks and insurance. Not meeting goals resulted in reprimands.. Being next to a national hardware chain meant lock sales were really slow. Insurance WAS pushed.
    I am not a moron and I wasn’t fired. I am not bitter or angry – just telling it like it is.

  12. Former PS Manager says:

    Well “kad” i also am a former employee of Public Storage and i also left on good terms. I worked in the Bay Area and we were NEVER told that we must sell locks and insurance or we wouldnt have jobs. Our Regional Manager as well as District Manager told us the #1 priority is Rentals. We would rather have a rental then a lock sale or insurance sale.

  13. Cody Fawcett says:

    wow this must be two completely different companies we are talking about!
    i am not bitter and i sure as hell was not fired, i worked there for 3.5 years while completing my degrees. once i got my B.S. i left. and when i did i was “cautioned” that i should rethink my options because i didn’t want my wife to be put out on the street. i still quit even providing the courtesy 2 week notice.

    not being paid barely minimum wage and being refused overtime/sick days/vacation, having my time card altered, and my mileage reimbursement refused on a constant basis makes me angry.

    yes there were QUOATS or sales goals or benchmarks or whatever else you want to call them. every single month we were told what we must achieve or we could start looking for new jobs and a new place to live.

  14. kad says:

    Thank you Cody for your confirmation. I know I did not imagine these things.

  15. ex loyal manager that wasnt fired says:

    Well your district manager must of been doing shady things then. Who was your DM

  16. Cody Fawcett says:

    i had two Mark Edmonds and Bob Lenhares and for a short while Van Jones

    1. kad says:

      Bingo. The infamous V.J.

  17. ex manager says:

    What district did or do u work in kad

    1. kad says:

      Did. Northern CA, and that’s as specific as I’ll get.

  18. ex sf manager says:

    Kad obviously your from the district in Oakley to Martinez since v.j. is infamous…and I bet your still working for the company cause he never fired anybody

  19. kad says:

    In fact, he did fire people, but I wasn’t one of them. No, I do not work for the Co. and haven’t for about 6 years.

  20. Cody Fawcett says:

    why not get specific? you dont work there they cant do anything to you.

  21. kad says:

    I have my reasons. The public doesn’t care about the name of a petty bully/tyrant with a Napoleon complex. I confirmed that it was V.J. and if you know who that is – great. There were quotas on lock and, insurance sales as well as percentage of delinquent accounts. Managers were harangued about these at meetings. The threat of termination was always hanging over manager’s heads. That’s what the public needs to know. . . that and pay your storage bill at P.S. – give the manager something NOT to be harangued about.

  22. Robert Bagley says:

    Hey kad did we work together

    1. kad says:

      I don’t think so. . .

  23. ex loyal rf from sf says:

    Yes bagley you did work with her. Shes from the property in Oakley. Next time don’t use your initials as your name….and bagley why are you on here again, are you still trying to get something from ps because they fired you for good reasons

    1. kad says:

      I did not work in Oakley. I posted my comments to add to CBS story and confirm that insurance sales were pushed, pushed, pushed, and to inform the public about other stuff that they might not know about. I didn’t post to get involved in a petty snit between others.

  24. jack says:

    Well I am a former customer at public storage. If you really look at this you would see its not as bad as cbs or cody fawcett is making it sound. Public storage probably has close to or over 1 million tenants and there are how many people here complaining that the insurance is a scam? 5 maybe 10?. Give me a break thats a low percentage of people who ” allegedly” were broken into. If there is no proof or sign of a break in for example your lock cut or door pried open then of course your claim will be denied. Homeowners insurance and auto insurance are no different.

    1. Cody Fawcett says:

      Jack, as i mentioned in my interview, we ran a PS in Novato CA and while my wife and i were there, about 5 years or so i think it was, we had a total of three claims, and they were all denied to my knowledge.

      now at the other properties i was relief at both Santa Rosa properties, mill valley, and an San Rafael, there were more break ins and denied claims that i can remember. i know for a fact that at one of the Santa Rosa properties we had a rash of break ins.

      the typical style was move in for the first month for about 40$ and to rob the other units while there. they would cut the locks and take them and replace them with there own to which they had the key. during lock checks we would not even know it would have happened because it all looked fine. we wouldn’t find out about it till the real tenant came in and found a strange lock on the unit. most tenants are not there very frequently, so we may not know until they come to move out.

      just because this report only covered a few specific properties and a few specific incidents does not mean this is not a problem. doing a Google search for “”public storage” insurance complaints” nets nearly 18000 results. now that is very rough-hand narrows it down to rough estimate of only “public storage.” remove the quotes and you hit nearly 6.8 million hits.

  25. Cody Fawcett says:

    BTW! dont forget to read the comments that are still being posted on the first story

  26. ricky bobby says:

    Well a good manager would notice from doing daily lock checks if there are different locks all of a sudden popping up on units without stickers and from experience I have seen the idiots who break in use the same kind of lock on all the units they break into and they either have no ps sticker or the glue on fake stickers.

  27. cal naughton jr says:

    Well said ricky bobby, well said…the dumb burglars always use the same M.O. and if you pay attention enough you will know what tenant is doing the break ins but that’s if your a good manager ….. shake’n bake!!!

  28. Cody Fawcett says:

    how do you notice a different lock on a unit if you are not there but once or twice a week?

    knowing long term tenant locks is one thing, but the others are all a guessing game. tenant will change locks willy nilly without informing you.

  29. A.anderson says:

    My girlfriend was just fired from public storage corporate office for not meeting her numbers after 11yrs of service to their Glendale, Ca, corporate office. I workedv their prior to her and am aware of Their scams drug “phizer” discounts , general internal customer service. She was fired because PS, monitors calls not for customer service designed to route custonmers until they are tired but to make sure reps push their agenda. Nicole Zorhn, manager of call center. CBS5 I have news 4 you!

  30. A.anderson says:

    I was wondering when were consumers gone to catch on to this company who keep their call center reps on the bottom level of corporate office that their 1800 numbers rolls too and calls are scripted otherwise they threaten to fire their employees. Breaks are synchronized and micro managed not allowing enough to be in dispose. I received my 1st joint aches corporal tunnel in my young age in which resulted torn rotator cuff. The lying and scams poor management right at Glendale, corporate office. UnEqual treatment! No respect 4 customers are unemployees. I was once told by a mgr; customer had to remain locked in gate overnight-Smh! Call center Director: Matt Holiday, Mgr; Nicole Zorhn, Chairman: Wayne Hughes, CEO: Ron havner

  31. N.Norman says:

    Public Storage 800# is not designed to help customers, but route u to u give up!!

  32. shake n bake says:

    All jobs will fire you if you don’t perform up to standards. Shake n bake

    1. BakeThis says:

      N. Norman ass is gone

  33. isaac says:

    I worked for PS# 75085 In Hayward & if i wasn’t at 100% locks & 100% insurance i got emails from my DM, Sr DM & RM about how i needed to get my #’s up on a daily basis. I wasn’t fired from PS & i work at a locally owned & operated facility & the majority of our customers are PS breakins who are fed up with that company. after i quit working at 75085 there were at least 100 breakins, i know this because a buddy of mine who i got the job there had to run it after i left. on top of that most Public Storage’s don’t even have alarms or as in the property i ran didn’t even have surveillance. despite my numerous attempts to get any kind of security the answer was always, “the Sr VP doesn’t think it will help”… if you want your stuff to be there when you decide to go get it DON’T rent at PUBLIC STORAGE there motto is your stuff will be happy here not SAFE as it should be.

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