SPRINGFIELD — After serving a year in Iraq, Army reserve specialist Patrick Rogalin came back to Missouri to find all the belongings he had put in a Public Storage locker had been sold.
“It’s really insulting, after all I went through over there serving my country, to come back and have to deal with this,” said Rogalin, 20.
Rogalin said he put his belongings into a Public Storage unit near St. Louis before shipping out and set up automatic payments with the company. But while he was in Iraq, he said, someone accessed his checking account and wrote more than $900 in checks, which caused his storage payments to bounce.
After learning of the problem from his bank, Rogalin opened a different account. He resumed making payments to Public Storage.
“When I got back, I called Public Storage to find out the status of my account and they told me the contents of my storage container had been auctioned off in June because the bill hadn’t been paid,” he said.
Rogalin said Public Storage never told him his account was in trouble, or that everything he owned — clothes, books, electronic gear, furniture, magazines and other property — was going to be sold.
“I was shocked that they had done this,” Rogalin said. “I moved in with my girlfriend, who’s going to Missouri State. Otherwise I wouldn’t have anything.”
Ron Ramler, regional vice president of Public Storage, said company policy prevented him from talking about Rogalin’s case.
Although his contract with Public Storage, based in Glendale, Calif., states the company is liable for losses up to $5,000, Rogalin said the company offered him only $2,000 and an apology.
“I called them back and told them this isn’t anywhere near right,” Rogalin said. “They upped their offer to $2,500 and gave me seven days to accept it or get nothing.”
He said he rejected the $2,500 but does not have enough money to fight the company in court. He said he’d like to get the $5,000 due him under the contract.
Rogalin still has his car and the military clothing he brought back from Iraq. His girlfriend, Jaimie Alonzo, 21, and her parents bought him some clothes for Christmas.
“At least now I’m not wearing the same three things every week,” Rogalin said.
Rogalin said he plans to take history and journalism classes at Missouri State this spring, where he hopes to join the university’s ROTC program so he can resume his Army career as an officer when he graduates.