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Students Fret Over Boxes Lost In Storage

It’s Nov. 21. Do you know where your summer storage boxes are?

For some students who stowed their belongings with Collegeboxes, a Watertown-based storage service company that contracted with Harvard Student Agencies (HSA) last school year, the answer is still ‘no.’ And they’re angry about it.

The students, mostly Kirkland House residents, are directing their frustration at Collegeboxes, a firm that The Wall Street Journal has called the largest national storage and rental business geared towards college clients.

They say Collegeboxes either lost their belongings or did not deliver their possessions or reimbursement checks on time.

Because Kirkland underwent renovations last summer, residents had to stash their belongings through Collegeboxes in order to receive free storage.

Undergraduate Council members are calling for an end to ties between the Houses and Collegeboxes. Their draft bill also urges HSA to sever its connections to the firm. And it asks Harvard’s general counsel to aid students “in securing appropriate restitution for their losses.”

Collegeboxes Vice President Joshua S. Kowitt said yesterday that such problems are an exception and that the start-up company has satisfied its other Harvard customers.

He said the company provided service to 600 students and the percentage of Harvard students making claims was lower than the national average.

“I just don’t want to make it out that this is a huge disaster. It’s not,” he said. “We have a few students who are essentially still waiting on their insurance claim checks.”

But Eric P. Lesser ’07 of Kirkland said he has collected e-mailed statements from 22 students who are upset with the company’s service.

He and his roommates, Paul B. Davis ’07-’08 and Ashwin Kaja ’07, said they’re still missing a couch and three rugs that they stored with the company.

Lesser filed his insurance claim on Oct. 1. He said he contacted the company four more times before Kowitt hand-delivered the $525 reimbursement check yesterday morning.

“We feel Harvard should never do business with Collegeboxes again,” Davis said.

Kirkland resident Taylor M. Owings ’08 has also found herself sans futon since move-in day. She said she filed for her insurance claim, but that two months later, a representative told her the firm had lost her paperwork.

She complained that Kirkland forced her into the arrangement with Collegeboxes. “We didn’t have any choice in the matter,” she said.

According to Kowitt, the problems were due to clerical errors, and the company will accept all claims electronically in 2007.

“It’s no fault but our own. We take 100 percent responsibility for it,” Kowitt said.

—Staff writer Katherine M. Gray can be reached at kmgray@fas.harvard.edu.
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