Storage company sells widow's life treasures for late payment on

Storage company sells widow's life treasures for late payment on storage unit

Posted:
"That's my life in there. Not only have I lost my husband, I have lost....everything," Deborah Gourley said. "That's my life in there. Not only have I lost my husband, I have lost....everything," Deborah Gourley said.
Despite paying her balance through the end of February, her items were auctioned. Despite paying her balance through the end of February, her items were auctioned.
Many of the items auctioned were personal mementos of Gourley's life with her late husband. Many of the items auctioned were personal mementos of Gourley's life with her late husband.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - There are few furnishings in Deborah Gourley's apartment. A friend gave her two chairs. There is no table or chairs in her kitchen, only a mattress and frame in her bedroom.

Most of what she owned had been in Unit B79 at Cheshire Self Storage in Knoxville.

When her husband Doug died of cancer last May, Deborah moved out of the condo they lived in and put most of their belongings from their 33-year marriage in storage.

"That's my life in there. Not only have I lost my husband, I have lost....everything," she said.

Gourley was late twice in making her $60 a month payment for the storage unit. A receipt shows she moved into the unit Nov. 3, 2012.

She admits that she missed her December payment and was late with her January payment by a few days.

Her January statement indicates she owed $60 and even more by February.

Tennessee rules for storage facilities state for long-term defaults, a lien can be filed by the business, that a written letter explaining the default must be delivered and an auction can begin within 60 days against renters who are late in their payments and don't respond on time to the warning letter.

That's the type of letter Gourley received from Cheshire Storage, saying the notice of the lien was sent Jan. 16.

She had until Feb. 1 to make up her payment, but she missed the deadline by one day.  

Gourley says on Feb. 2, she called the office.

"I said, 'This is Deborah Gourley and I will be there. I will pay you,' and I explained my situation," she said.

Gourley says she went to the office and paid the property manager.

"She told me emphatically, 'I can waive the late fees and I will make sure nothing happens to your things,'" Gourley said.

Hopeful, she went to see her unit on Feb. 2.

"My things were there. No problem," she said.

But that wasn't the case when she returned to the unit on Feb. 24.

"All my things are gone. She said it was auctioned off. I asked her who has my things? 'I do not know,'" Gourley said.

She doesn't understand why her things were auctioned, because her February bill shows a zero balance, shows the account paid through Feb. 28th and the late fees waived.

When she called to find out what was happened, she didn't receive an answer.

"I called the owner three times," she said.

In a written response to 6 On Your Side, the owner of the business, Bryan Testerman, Jr., states: "We feel our actions were legal and appropriate."

Testerman said she made a claim and, "we have turned it over to our insurance carrier."

"It is unfortunate this process was instituted because Mrs. Gourley failed to pay her obligations in a timely manner. Her possessions were removed at the time of our auction, February 2," he continued.

We showed Gourley the message from Bryan Testerman.

"When was it auctioned off?" she asked. "No one can tell me, but my things were there when I paid it. I want my memories."

Gourley has little hope that her memories will be found.

Does she have a legal case? She's consulting with an attorney. 


Don Dare's 6 On Your Side reports can be seen every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on 6 News at 6:00.

If you have a consumer issue, call the 6 On Your Side Hotline at 865-633-5974 or email ddare@wate.com.

Powered by WorldNow

1306 N. Broadway NE Knoxville,
Tennessee 37917

Telephone: 865.637.NEWS(6397)
Fax: 865.525.4091
Email: newsroom@wate.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Young Broadcasting of Knoxville, Inc. A Media General Company.