Dearborn handyman's storage unit auctioned off by mistake

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A Dearborn man says his storage unit was mistakenly auctioned off.

"I'm aggravated, annoyed, pissed off," said Chris Smithers.

You would be too, if you stored your valuables in a storage unit, and then all of a sudden one day, it was sold by mistake. 

Smithers had paid all of his bills on time.  Since November 2016, he needed more space than his Dearborn home garage would allow, to store his tools and work equipment.

"A lot of people around here have a storage unit," he said.

Smithers, who works as a handyman, found the Public Storage in Taylor.  But then in March of this year, he got a call from the manager saying they sold his stuff.  

"The person that makes the auction list, I guess accidentally flipped two numbers around, and when they did, it ended up being my unit," he said.

Smithers says he lost about $12,000 worth of tools, a generator, and other stuff.

"My lawyer offered me $3,500," he said. "I want my $12,000 that I worked hard for."

But the contract he signed, limits Public Storage's pay out to a maximum of $5,000.

"I even have them admitting I was (paying) on time and they made a mistake," he said.

The second problem for Smithers is that the contract says that he was only supposed to store $5,000 worth of items.

 "They say don't put more than $5,000 in here because if you put $20,000 inside, we have to charge more rent to cover our insurance," said Mark Frankel, an attorney with Couzens Lansky. "I agree it's sad but he should have protected himself by getting more coverage for the overage."

Smithers called and said that Public Storage contacted him and offered the full $5,000. It was the most he could get, under the contract.

"You don't want to be out your money that you work hard for," he said. "So pay attention to the fine print."