Central Ny Storage Company Agrees To Reform Practices
Attorney General Spitzer today announced that his settlement with a Central New York storage company has resulted in significantly reformed business operations and refunds for customers.
E-Z Student Storage, Inc., also known as "box it," and its principals Paul Valenti and Archie Potamianos, settled allegations that the company had violated consumer protection laws against false and deceptive business practices and laws that limit storage fees and require the disclosure of information to consumers.
"The goal of this settlement was twofold: to ensure that this firm cleaned up its act; and to put all storage companies on notice that unscrupulous business practices will not be tolerated," Spitzer said.
Spitzer's office received numerous complaints against E-Z Student Storage from consumers, mostly students at Syracuse University, Ithaca College, Villanova College, Brown University and the University of Rhode Island. Additional complaints were settled against the company's predecessor, Hassle Free Student Storage, Inc.
Consumers complained that their credit cards were erroneously billed for services and that E-Z Student Storage created moving problems for customers by failing to uphold its contractual promise to deliver packing materials and failing to pick up goods at the promised time. Furthermore, inquires from customers to E-Z Student Storage went unanswered after the firm failed to mail out in a timely manner information about their goods' delivery date. When customers attempted to visit the business, they discovered that E-Z Student Storage's Syracuse office was closed.
Believing themselves to have been duped and greatly concerned about the whereabouts of their stored goods, customers contacted the Attorney General's office for assistance.
Spitzer's investigation also revealed that E-Z Student Storage overcharged customers when it had given estimates for storage services and, at times, failed to deliver stored goods on the promised date. In addition, E-Z Student Storage falsely claimed to be a member of the Better Business Bureau, when in fact, the company had been voted off the BBB members list.
In settling the case, E-Z Student Storage has agreed to revamp its operations to ensure that customers' property is stored properly, that consumers' inquiries are promptly answered, that customers are not billed multiple times, and that contracts meet statutory requirements.
Spitzer's office will closely monitor E-Z Student Storage for two years, including requiring the firm to provide a full accounting of all monies received for storage services, a list of all consumers together with their contracts, and documentation demonstrating how the company is addressing customer complaints.
E-Z Student Storage also agreed to make full restitution to consumers and to pay $6,000 for civil penalties and costs. Consumers have until December 2001 to file a complaint with the Attorney General's office to be eligible for a refund.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Judith C. Malkin of the Syracuse Regional Office under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General In Charge Winthrop H. Thurlow.
Individuals with complaints about storage facilities are encouraged to contact the Attorney General's consumer help line at (800) 771-7755.