Storage Auctions Dirty little Secrets Fake and Shill Bidding.
"Don't Get the Big One Dropped on You"
Most people in the business or who watch storage wars TV shows may be familiar with the term "getting the big one dropped on you". This is a reference that describes what happens when someone at a storage auction drives the bidding up on a locker for the sole purpose of drying up your funds so you can't buy any more lockers. They might also do this to discourage you from attending that storage facility anymore because they perceive you as a threat and want to protect what they see as their local hot spot.
It's really quite easy to protect yourself from this (up bidding) trap. After you look over a locker set a firm price that you are willing to pay and stick to your plan no matter what. Bidding without a plan and getting caught up in the moment is a sure fire way to lose your shirt. A good rule of thumb when assessing what to pay for a locker goes like this add up in dollars what you can see and don't go above that price. This way at the very least you make your money back, hopefully what you can't see is as good as what you could see and thus make a profit. Auctioneers have all kinds of verbal tricks to get you to bid more, over time they get to know you and learn how to press your buttons. For example, he may look point you call your name and ask if your interested. He may even joke or poke fun of you all in an effort to get you engaged in the bidding. I had a auctioneer tell me once, you only need a good auctioneer one person to make it a great auction for him. I have seen auctioneers literally get people bidding against themselves, if the auctioneer is unscrupulous he can just point out in the crowd and take fake bids then point back at you. Auctioneers love to create confusion with their verbal chants many people don't have a clue what's going on and just keep bidding.
Another dirty trick you will find employed at many auctions is shill bidding you can find this type of fraud at storage or equipment and estate online auctions. This is when a person or persons are planted in the auction buy the auctioneer to drive up the bids. Sometimes this is done without the direct knowledge of the auctioneer friends and family will collude to drive up bids at their own moving or estate auctions.
TV Storage Wars: Fake or Real?
You Could Be the Target of Storage Wars Revenge
I am going to describe an event that actually happened to me at an auction that sheds a whole new light on the term "getting one dropped on you". One day I get a phone call from the local storage unit manager. He notified me that there was going to be an auction on the following Saturday. I have gone to auctions at this facility on a regular basis for many years, so when I arrived I noticed right away one of my main competitors wasn't there. As we waited and time drew near for the start of the auction the auctioneer looked around and said to me "Where's Bob" I just shrugged my shoulders, It was odd for him not to be there because he was a regular at this facility. The auctioneer stalled for a few minutes hoping that Bob would get there before the start. He knew that if Bob were there we would battle over the lockers as usual and they would make more money. Luckily for me (or so I thought) he did not show up and the auction got under way
After the first three units were auctioned off we came to the last locker It was a 10 x 30 packed front to back with boxes all the way to the ceiling. I just shook my head because I hate buying lockers full of boxes. It's hard to figure out what to bid when you can't what's in the boxes. So the bidding gets under way and I end up buying this monster locker at what I thought was a very reasonable price. My thinking was, i had to make some money just off the volume of whatever it was in the boxes.
The next day, I came with my truck and trailer and started to unload the locker, as I was loading I was looking through the boxes and knew immediately something was wrong. All the boxes were full of old housewares, plastic toys, Christmas and Halloween decoration. On further inspection I found lots of mail, bills, magazines, with the names and addresses of a dozen different people, this is always a very bad sign because It means the locker had been tampered with. I stopped loading and went back to the office to ask some questions, I knew the owners of this storage building very well so when I told them what I had found in the locker they were totally shocked at my claim. But they knew me well and respected my knowledge of the business and helped me investigate.
We started a little research and found out the renter had paid just one time to move in then abandon it that's always a bad sign. They looked up the name of the renter which at first rang no bells to me. They then showed me a driver license photocopy of the renter I immediately recognized him It was Joe, I had seen him many times at auctions helping Bob and I am definitely smelling a rat. We then looked at security videos dated back to the day Joe first rented the unit and sure enough we found the video of Bob and Joe driving in and out of the facility together bringing in load after load stuffing the locker. I was both amazed, angry and relieved that my suspicions were correct.
Its hard to put a value on a locker like this.
Storage Locker Fraud Exposed
Bob was busted and lucky for me the owners knew this was a complete fraud and refunded all of my money. This however is not the outcome you can expect from most storage facility owners. Most would tell you sorry all units are sold " as is" with no refund especially since they are in on the fraud in the first place. The owners later informed me they had contacted Bob and Joe and banned both from attending anymore auctions at their business.
To conclude, I guess Bob was very frustrated with me for outbidding him at many auctions. He wanted to set me up to get his revenge so he had his buddy Joe rent this locker for him hoping to cover his trail. Bob gathered up his leftovers from other lockers he had recently bought and stuffed them into boxes in order to conceal the contents. He new, I would most likely be the buyer of that locker and I'm sure he must have been rolling on the ground laughing that evening when his spies reported back to him. I found out later he had sent a couple of family members to stand in the crowd and observe for him. In the end, all of his scheming blew up in his face and now with him out of the picture i got a lot of good lockers at a much cheaper price, it all worked out great for me.