‘My heart broke’: Woman’s items worth $16k in storage unit ‘badly damaged’ after a year

Prized possessions worth $16,000 were damaged when Ms Ong Yu Tong retrieved them from the Lock+Store storage unit in Ang Mo Kio. PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ONG YU TONG

SINGAPORE - She stored her belongings, including designer goods and her daughter’s pre-school graduation photo and certificate, at a self-storage facility, while looking for a new home, only for her prized possessions, valued at $16,000, to end up damaged.

Ms Ong Yu Tong, who is in her late 30s, said that when she retrieved her items from the Lock+Store storage unit in Ang Mo Kio in December 2022, the luxury bags, clothes, comic books and a stainless steel table were in a state of mould and rust.

“I never expected the damage to be this bad. Even a dust bag disintegrated – it was like I stored my things in a rainforest,” she told The Straits Times on Tuesday.

Ms Ong, who works in manufacturing, rented the storage unit in January 2022 when she moved in with her parents after selling her flat. She said the non-air-conditioned unit, which cost about $4,000 to rent for a year, looked fine when she inspected it.

“It was only when I moved out my things that the workers realised the boxes, which were stacked against the back of the unit, were damp. The boxes tore as they were moving them into a lorry and all my things spilled out,” she said.

“When I saw my mouldy bags, I just stood there crying.”

Ms Ong added that she had retrieved items from the storage unit several times over the year and found nothing amiss.

But when the boxes were moved away from the wall, she found “obvious signs of water seepage”, which she claims could have come from the air-conditioned unit next to hers.

In response to queries, Lock+Store’s head of marketing and customer experience Leona Lo said the incident was not caused by water leakage but a “change in temperature or humidity conditions”.

“Non-air-conditioned units do not have temperature or humidity control,” she said, adding that under the service provider’s terms and conditions, goods are stored at the “sole risk and responsibility” of the customer.

The unit next to Ms Ong’s is not a Lock+Store tenant, she added.

Ms Lo said customers are reminded not to store valuable items such as jewellery, artworks and luxury handbags in their storage units. In particular, handbags should not be stored in non-air-conditioned units due to the risk of mould from humidity.

Declining to comment on the compensation offered to Ms Ong, Ms Lo added: “We are sorry for the frustration the tenant experienced.”

Ms Ong said she was offered $2,000 as goodwill, and $500 to restore three of her items, including a Prada bag.

Among other damaged items were her daughter’s kindergarten graduation certificate and photo.

“When I saw them, my heart broke. The pre-school does not keep duplicates, so they were the only copies I have of this milestone in her life,” said Ms Ong, who now lives in a Toa Payoh flat with her seven-year-old son and daughter, who’s 10.

Among other damaged items were her daughter’s kindergarten graduation certificate and photo. PHOTO: COURTESY OF ONG YU TONG

She said she intends to file a claim with the Small Claims Tribunal but is exhausted from the ordeal.

“I’m just trying to get a fair resolution. For the storage facility not to assume any responsibility, it’s very unfair to me,” she added.

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