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Council: Nix Collegeboxes

By Katherine M. Gray, Crimson Staff Writer

The Undergraduate Council last night called on all Harvard affiliates, including Harvard Student Agencies (HSA), to “sever ties” with the national storage service company Collegeboxes.

Kirkland House resident Eric P. Lesser ’07 and his roommates first proposed the resolution last week after they alleged that it took longer to receive an insurance claim check from Collegeboxes than the 30-day period specified on the company’s Web site.

They solicited 22 complaints from students with similar experiences, including claims that the company—which operates through a contract with HSA—failed to deliver boxes on time and responded rudely to inquiries.

Due to renovations in Kirkland last summer, residents who wanted free storage had to stow their boxes and furniture with Collegeboxes. Harvard fronted the cost to students of storing up to six boxes with the company.

HSA’s contract with Watertown-based Collegeboxes—dubbed by The Wall Street Journal as the largest national storage service company oriented towards college students—expired this fall, and HSA has yet to decide whether to renew it.

“We’re going to take our own route of evaluation and look at all the statistics and all the complaints,” said HSA Vice President Lucy H. Clark ’08.

She added that HSA will take last night’s Undergraduate Council (UC) resolution into account.

Collegeboxes Chief Executive Officer Scott L. Neuberger said last night that all outstanding insurance claims have been paid to students, and all items left in the warehouse have been arranged for delivery to students in the next 24 hours.

Many students, he said, will receive claim checks in addition to their overdue boxes.

Neuberger also said that Collegeboxes was not contacted about last night’s UC meeting.

“We weren’t represented at the meeting,” he said. “There’s somebody with a vendetta out to get us. That’s not how the system’s supposed to work.”

Neuberger said that the number of people who have voiced complaints comprises a small percentage of the 600 customers served at Harvard.

Neuberger added that, although he could not speak for HSA, he believed Collegeboxes has a “strong working relationship” with HSA and “HSA is staunchly behind us.”

The resolution also asks the UC president, vice president, and Student Affairs Committee (SAC) chair to work with Harvard’s Office of General Counsel (OGC) “to assist students in securing appropriate restitution for their losses.”

SAC chair Ryan A. Petersen ’08 said last night that he has not received confirmation from the OGC that it will help students resolve their concerns with Collegeboxes.

“There are issues with a company being contracted by Harvard and that company not fulfilling its services for which Harvard paid them,” he said. “The students need legal advice.”

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

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