Mice in local storage complex damage student?s belongings - The Western Front: News

Mice in local storage complex damage student?s belongings

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Posted: Friday, February 23, 2001 12:00 am

When students put their belongings in storage for months at a time, they do not expect to find dead mice, urine and feces when they take the items out. Last January, Meghan Dougherty went to her U-Haul storage unit located on Meridian Street to retrieve her couch, dresser, bed and other belongings. What she found was her belongings -- damaged and surrounded by 14 dead mice. "I had to take most of my stuff to the dump," Dougherty said. When going through her toiletries at the storage unit in December, Dougherty found three dead mice. Further investigating led her to three more dead mice on her dresser. "I found there was pee and feces all over stuff," she said. "It didn't smell at first," she said. When she found the dead mice she said, "it smelled pretty bad with the urine and stuff that had gotten on things." The mice chewed holes in her loveseat, box spring and quilts. The urine had seeped into the mattress and box spring. Dougherty said she didn't buy the insurance U-Haul offered, adding that the damage done by the mice wouldn't have been covered by the insurance even if she had bought it. U-Haul offers a "safe store" insurance policy, representative Billy Rham said. The policy's coverage ranges from $4,000 to 20,000 and costs $6 to 24 a month. The insurance covers hurricane, fire, tornado, wind, earthquake, vandalism, lighting, smoke, building collapse, explosion, leaking water and burglary, Rahm said. If a customer does not purchase the "safe store", Rham said, he or she could file a claim with Republic Western Insurance, the insurance company to which U-Haul gives its damage claims. Damage done by mice is not covered in the policy. "There's different sorts of damages," said Eddy, a Republic Western Insurance claims representative who was prohibited from giving The Front his last name. He said all customers, even those who do not purchase the insurance, are allowed to file a claim but are not guaranteed the damage will be covered. "The mice are there," Rahm said. Dougherty said she filed a claim and received a response saying U-Haul had done as much as they could. She did not receive compensation. "I basically got screwed," Dougherty said. Dougherty said it was ironic that the sign advertising the U-Haul storage reads "Clean, safe and secure." Greg Doud, U-Haul manager, said customers must sign a contract when they rent a storage unit, which warns about storing food in the units because mice are attracted to it. "There's no way (mice) get in unless somebody brings them in," Doud said. He added that mice might be able to get into a unit from a neighboring U-haul unit. Doud said 90 percent of people who rent a storage unit, store food there anyway. Rahm said U-Haul sets mousetraps and an exterminator comes every two weeks to help control the mice. Dougherty said she had to throw away her dresser, couch, mattresses, a hiking pack, quilts, a radio and a vacuum cleaner. She said the damage was about $500. When she found the dead mice in December, Dougherty said, U-Haul told her to take her bath items out of the unit because mice are attracted to such things. Dougherty said she took her bath items out but returned in January to get all of her stuff. She said she found 14 total dead mice in the time she had her belongings in storage, from July until January.

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