《Door-to-Door Storage Services – Unveiling the hidden costs》

13 August 2020

Hidden costs of storage services
Want to hold on to things that are dear to you but running out of space at home?  That’s why mini-storage and particularly door-to-door by-box storage and door-to-door mini-storage are gaining popularity in recent years.  Do you know about the hidden charges attached to these door-to-door services and, that they could in the end be more costly than self-storage services?

What is door-to-door by-box storage or door-to-door mini-storage?
By definition, they are “door-to-door” storage services. Some companies provide one-stop storage services for customers including pick-up services (door-to-door mini-storage), and sometimes may provide designated storage boxes to customers for their storage items (door-to-door by-box storage).  These services can save you from the troubles of transporting the stored goods and their monthly rental seems be lower than that of self-storage services. 

Minimum charges vs minimum costs
Although the monthly rental for door-to-door by-box storage seems lower, all service providers require minimum charges, and the charges are based on the number of storage boxes, rental period or the amount paid on the first order.  For instance, a company may require a minimum charge of $500 which, based on a 1-month minimum rental period, is equivalent to renting 11 standard boxes. Some other companies require a minimum rental period of 1 year.  Consumers should pay attention to the minimum charges by different companies and choose the appropriate service providers best fit their needs in terms of storage volume and rental period.

Minimum transportation fees
Door-to-door storage service providers are responsible for the transportation of the stored goods. This incurs transportation fee which is usually calculated on a “Base +”" basis (i.e. a basic transportation fee plus additional fee according to the number of storage boxes). Some companies charge a minimum transportation fee. At the same time, some companies offer discounts, e.g. waiving the transportation fee(s) for the first storage or if the storage boxes are returned to the delivery staff within 15 – 30 minutes after pick-up.  Consumers are advised to estimate their storage volume, rental period and frequency of storage and retrieval, and calculate and compare the costs of various service providers.   

Beware of delivery surcharges 
Although the door-to-door pick-up and delivery services can save you a lot work as compared to self-storage, they may give rise to other delivery issues which may in turn increase the transportation costs.  Take the pick-up / delivery time as an example, quite a few companies only operate such services before 7pm from Monday to Saturday, and some companies only operate till 2pm on Saturdays, thus making it difficult (timewise) for the general workers.  There could be a penalty charge if you are not home at the appointed pick-up / delivery time.  Moreover, factors like “remote area”, “change of address” and “staircase access” will also increase the overall transportation costs.

Any damage compensation?
The previous mini-storage fire which destroyed a large number of valuable items had left the storage customers without any compensation.  A survey conducted by the Consumer Council, unveiled that mini-storages do not normally take out insurance cover for their customers’ stored goods. Only some companies include water damage and fire insurance, comprehensive property insurance and third-party insurance in their monthly rental. But a number of these companies only extend such insurance to cover (unless otherwise stated) the fittings, machinery and equipment of the mini-storages instead of the stored goods of the customers.  Consumers should therefore pay attention!
On the contrary, most of the by-box storage plans include insurance protection which cover each storage box. To make claims, consumers may need to provide evidence of lost or damaged items, together with the purchase receipts.

Apart from the convenience factor, consumers should not overlook details concerning services and charges of storage services.  For further information, please refer to the article, “Self-Storage vs Door-to Door Storage: A Comparison on Services and Charges”. CHOICE Magazine, Issue 521(Chinese version only). In this article, the Council made comparison of various door-to-door storage services, which should help you to make the right choice!