Remember the U-Haul customer who was locked in at a self-storage unit in Wisconsin? Something similar, but possibly more dangerous, happened over the weekend at an indoor U-Haul facility in Philadelphia.
Michael and his girlfriend were on the 4th floor of the U-Haul storage facility at 1015 S 12th Street in Philadelphia, PA. They’d hired movers to carry down the contents of their storage room, but they decided to help by carrying smaller items down the stairwell (to leave the elevator free for the professional movers).
Once they stepped through, however, they realized they’d made a huge mistake:
We followed the exit sign to the flight of stairs and realized right away that it wasn’t the greatest idea. Just the clarify, the sign said EXIT and there was no indication whatsoever that anything was wrong with going through that door and exiting like a normal building. It was one of those stairways that has balcony-ish areas on every floor that opens up to a view of the street…except the openings were very badly covered with wire mesh that was filled with holes. As a result, the ground was covered in bird droppings since birds had gotten in. The door was locked from the inside so once we got into the stairwell and closed the door, there was no way to go back in.
I told my girlfriend to stay there as I headed downstairs to see if there was a way out, and saw dead, decaying birds/rodents on the way to the first floor. Finally the exit door that opened up to the street on the first floor was blocked by scaffolding. So we were trapped in the stairway of the U-Haul facility during normal business hours.
My girlfriend called the office (while I tried to call one of the movers), and since no one picked up the phone there it was transferred automatically to corporate. We told them of our situation, and we were not happy. They said they would transfer us to the office and we told them that we just called there and that no one picked up. We asked if there was a direct manager’s line we could be connected to because we needed someone to open the door to the stairwell where we were trapped. They transferred us to the store, no one answered, then we got transferred again back to the corporate office, then when they transferred us to the office again someone picked up and let us out of that horrible place. All in all, we spent 15-20 minutes on the phone trying to get out of there. I was about to call the police.
We told the employees what happened and they kind of disregarded it. The movers were finished and we wanted to get out of there, plus the movers were being paid by the hour. Lets just say that we won’t be using that facility again.
We looked up the address on Google Maps and called the U-Haul to ask for their side of the story. The man who answered told us simply “No” when we asked if the ground floor door was blocked by scaffolding. Then he hung up on us when we offered to share details of Michael’s complaint.
We’re not sure what the fire codes are for Philly, but blocking an exit door seems like it would interfere with an emergency exit should the need arise. Michael, we suggest you lodge a complaint with U-Haul’s corporate office, as well as with the Fire Marshal’s Office (215-686-1362 or 1363).