'Shocking' damage to items in self-storage facility caused by 'changes in temperature and humidity'

S Preethiba
The New Paper
Feb 28, 2023

While looking for a new home in January 2022, Ms Ong Yu Tong decided to store her belongings, including luxury bags, and some 108 Archie comic books at a self-storage facility.

But when she went to collect her items almost a year later, she was met with a horrific sight.

Her possessions, amounting to about $16,000, which she had kept at the Lock+Store storage unit in Ang Mo Kio, were damaged.

Speaking to TNP on Tuesday (Feb 28), she said: “I did not expect the damage to be this shocking. My comic books were plagued by mould, and even the dust bag meant to protect my leather bag was damaged," she added.

Ms Ong, who works in manufacturing and is in her late 30s, told TNP that she chose Lock+Store – after researching several other storage facilities – because of their cheaper rates and convenient location. 

“They seemed to be a big and reputable company. Also, they were located near my parents’ home, so I could take the items whenever I needed to,” she said.

Ms Ong added that when she first inspected the storage unit, "the unit and walls looked fine”. 

She also visited the unit about once a month to retrieve some of her belongings, but said she could only reach things near the front of the unit because heavy furniture was placed at the entrance. 

But when she finally went to collect all her items in December 2022, they were damaged beyond belief.

She claimed that the damages were caused by “slow water leaks” in the unit, which she assumes must have been present from the start.

Ms Ong also said there were rust and water stains on the floor and walls of the unit when she collected her items.

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

Ms Lo added that non-air conditioned units like that of Lock+Store’s do not have temperature or humidity controls, and that customers who need to store their possessions in climate-controlled settings “would choose air-conditioned units”. 

She further stated that under the terms and conditions of the service provider, “goods are stored at the sole risk and responsibility of the storer” which would have been communicated to customers during the onboarding process. 

“We apologised for her experience and assured her we would provide regular updates on our investigation. Our county manager reached out to her every step of the way to update her on the outcome of our investigation,” she said. 

While Ms Ong said that the county manager has helped restore three of her items, including a Prada bag, there has been no confirmation yet on any further compensation from the company.

She added that she does not believe temperature changes were the cause of the incident, since her stainless steel table, clothing and books were damaged too.

While she intends to file a claim with the Small Claims Tribunal, she thinks her efforts would be in vain. 

“Looking at the advice I have received, it seems futile to do so. But I am keen to seek a fair compensation,” she said.

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