TOOELE – Imagine just about every single possession you own, dumped into a landfill. Everything you worked for. Everything of sentimental value.
It happened to a woman in Tooele, when Stansbury Park Storage claimed she was late on her payments.
But the KSL Investigators discovered those missed payments may not have been her fault.
What went wrong?
To give you a little background, Alyse Young is a single mom who moved to Tooele in hopes of saving money to eventually buy a home for her and her 5-year-old daughter.
Part of that saving meant putting most of her possessions into a 10-by-10 storage unit for safekeeping.
"Things that I've financed. Things that I've purchased. Things that I've worked for," said Young.
So, she walked into the office at Stansbury Park Storage, filled out the paperwork, signed the lease, and just to make sure she never missed a payment, Young filled out a sheet of paper, allowing automatic payments.
"They asked if I wanted to set up an autopay, and I said, 'Yeah, that would be great,'" Young said.
Now, to give you a quick refresher on how autopay works: You give the business your bank information and each month, they automatically take the money out of your account.
In theory, you don't have to worry about a thing.
"And then the very next month comes, and I don't see an autopay charge come through. And it was never one time run. Ever," said Young.
It didn't happen just once or twice.
"I had to keep going in. And keep going in. And keep going in," she said.
Young told the KSL Investigators she filled out the paperwork for autopay three times.
Thinking it was resolved, Young didn't check if the $75 monthly payment was taken out of her account for months.
And it cost her.
A lifetime of possessions, tossed
When Young realized the rent was still not being withdrawn, she called Stansbury Park Storage.
"And it was kind of silent for a minute. And then [the manager] comes on the phone and just says, 'Well, it's emptied.' And I was like, 'Excuse me, it's what?' And he says, 'It's emptied.' And I'm like, 'What do you mean it's emptied?'"
Almost everything Young owned was gone: A washer and dryer, electronics, snowboards, mountain bikes, family mementos and heirlooms that had been passed down to her.
Young signed a lease addendum when she rented the unit, which states if you don't pay for 30 days, they will sell or dump your stuff. But what if you also signed up for autopay?
When she walked into the office looking for answers, she said the managers placed the blame on her.
In a conversation with the managers of the facility, which Young recorded, she can be heard saying, "You didn't bother to call me. You've got my number plus an emergency contact!"
"According to the computer, you haven't paid for the last seven months," the manager can be heard in reply.
"OK, so what we do know is obviously you did not follow through with your procedure of establishing your autopay process that you offered. You never once charged my account," Young is heard saying.
"It was. It was declined," said the manager.
Her credit card, declined. But here's the catch: The KSL Investigators have a transcript of the conversation between Young and her credit card company, where the company states:
"I don't see any attempted declined transactions."
"I don't see any attempts from this merchant."
Which means according to the credit card company, Stansbury Park Storage never attempted to run autopay.
But the damage was done. Young's possessions were gone.
"Tell me where," pleaded an emotional Young on the recording. "I will go digging through garbage right now to find my things."
You ask, KSL investigates
Hoping to straighten things out, Young reached out to the KSL Investigators.
We discovered Young is not the only customer with Stansbury Park Storage who has had an issue with autopay.
We spoke with half a dozen others, who told us:
- "They claimed we were past due and owed fees, even though we had autopay."
- "I have the auto-payment contract. Every month they would 'forget' to pull my payment."
- "My account was on autopay. They said they didn't receive my payment."
- "When shown proof, they claimed they must have entered the credit card information incorrectly."
- "[They said] my card and information got misplaced."
The KSL Investigators then rolled up to the manager's office at Stansbury Park Storage and asked them if they've had issues with autopay.
"Uh, little mix-ups here and there," said the manager. "You know, somebody's forgot to put on, somebody forgets to change their card. They don't understand why they've been declined."
"[Young's] saying you guys lost all the paperwork for autopay, and that's why there's a problem," Headrick can be heard saying to managers.
"There's only one piece of paper. There's just one piece of paper that has her information on it for her card," the manager replied.
Headrick: "Did you lose it?"
Manager: "No, we didn't lose it. It was out of date."
Out of date?
In addition to the autopay form, Young also wrote down her debit card information on the lease agreement. The expiration date on the lease agreement is marked November 2021, more than two years after her lease was originally signed.
The KSL Investigators compared that credit card information to the official tenant ledger, which is basically a documentation of every payment Young made to Stansbury Park Storage.
It shows that very same card, ending in 2489, was used and accepted for the initial payment and the month after Young said the autopay didn't go through, where she had to pay in person.
While we're talking documents, the only one nobody seems to be able to get their hands on, is the official autopay form.
The company provides customers a carbon copy of the lease agreement, but not the autopay agreement.
Headrick: "Why is that?"
Manager: "That's the way it's made. It's just how the piece of paper is."
Documentation, Documentation, Documentation
"I don't want to hear no excuses about, we can't find, or we can't locate the paperwork," said Martin Blaustein.
He's a lawyer with Utah Legal Services and said in this day and age, with just about everything computer-driven, it's tough to believe a copy of that autopay form isn't readily available.
"It raises a red flag," said Blaustein. "They have to have records. They have to have documents. There's almost no excuse for not having it documented."
That includes documentation of autopay, documentation of late notices, documentation of phone calls or other warnings her property was going to be dumped.
The managers said they made those notifications before emptying Young's unit.
"Three past due notices. A phone call. An auction letter."
But when asked if they could provide documentation?
"Ummmmmmm, not that I can give you."
And according to Young, not that they can give her.
"I do need copies of all the paperwork. I need copies of my original invoices," Young is heard saying in the audio recording of her conversation with the managers.
"I don't have the paperwork. I will not print anything out," the manager is heard in reply.
Unfortunately, just about everything Young worked for is gone for good.
She has spent months looking online, in the classifieds, at auctions and even neighborhood sales.
"Every click I make it's like, my stomach, I'm just like anxious, like waiting to see something that might be mine," she said.
While nothing will change what she lost, our investigation did bring one change.
KSL rented a storage unit from Stansbury Park Storage two days ago, on Nov. 3, and learned autopay is officially on hold.
After signing the lease, our producer was told "Uhh, they stopped that. Yeah, we can't do automatic pay anymore."
A sudden change Young hopes will save others from the same heartbreak.
"Why is my stuff gone?" said a tearfully emotional Young. "Why is it gone? It shouldn't be gone. I trusted you."
If the company you are doing business with does not give you carbon copies of the documents you signed, ask for a copy or take a picture of the documents on your phone.
Also, it's a good idea to check your account each month to make sure auto pay goes through.
Stansbury Park Storage and its parent company, Beehive Storage, has a "C+" rating from the Better Business Bureau.
One of the primary representatives with the business would not talk with us on camera, but told KSL, "You don't have the facts," "It's insane you would even call," and "There is no problem," when asked about this story.