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How Storage Wars Fans Really Feel About The Value Of Items Found In Lockers

A&E's long-running unscripted TV series "Storage Wars" has kept fans enthralled since it first debuted in 2010. The popular series follows buyers who attend auctions for unclaimed storage units in hopes of finding rare and valuable items that can be sold for a fortune. The show's appeal is seeing exactly what collectibles are unearthed from rummaging through the lockers and learning their worth. Oftentimes, when cast members encounter a seemingly rare piece, they arrange for a visit with an expert, where the buyer and the audience learn more about it. Then, the intensity rises as the expert appraises the item. Sometimes, the buyer wins big and other times, not so much.

On top of those rare pieces, the buyer still has the rest of the storage locker, which is often full of everyday items that, when accumulated, can result in a profit. These items are usually valued on the spot by the buyer, based on previous selling experience. But how accurate are all these appraisals really? Considering the many factors that go into sales, do we really think the cast members are actually earning the estimated profit?

Some fans have taken umbrage with this aspect of "Storage Wars."

Storage Wars fans are not quite sure what to make of the items' pricing

Using a now-deleted account, one Redditor took to the "Storage Wars" subreddit and titled their post "Overvalued Items?" During the long gripe, the Redditor wondered aloud about the appraisals of both rare items and the smaller items, providing examples of exorbitant pricing that they wouldn't pay in any retail setting, summing it up with one question, "Who in the hell would pay that much money for that item?"

Some commenters, like u/FalcoFire, felt that the cast members' appraisals were nothing more than: "Sometimes they look at a box and just say a price." Others, like u/mc-obscene, felt Dave Hester, known for his trademarked "YUUUP!" catchphrase, was the guiltiest culprit in overvaluing the smaller items, with many in agreement.

Quora users also had similar gripes regarding the appraisals. Jeff Schwartz expressed the same concerns about the pricing, and added, "We never get to see if they have sold the item for the amount they claim as its worth, even when they get an item appraised it doesn't mean that it has been purchased for the appraised amount."

Thankfully, there were some informative commenters in the same thread. Houston Holder, who claimed to own two storage facilities at the time of his comment, provided an alleged reality check that isn't explored on the series. He claimed, "out of every 10 units sold at public auction, maybe 1 is valued higher than the amount of rent and late fees owed." 

As it turns out, fans aren't the only ones who have questioned the series' authenticity. 

Dave Hester once claimed that the show is staged

After Dave Hester was fired from the series, he filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in 2012 against the show's producers and also claimed that the show rigged the storage units. According to the lawsuit, "Defendants regularly salt or plant the storage lockers that are the subject of the auctions portrayed on the Series with valuable or unusual items to create drama and suspense for the show." 

In response to the lawsuit, A&E broadly pushed back against Hester and alleged that he only began questioning the authenticity of the series after he tried to renegotiate his contract, per The Hollywood Reporter. The network attempted to discredit Hester's whistleblower character by recognizing the allegations he made: "Plaintiff says that he participated in the very conduct he simultaneously claims was 'fraudulent' and 'illegal,' namely, the purported 'salting' of storage lockers with valuable items and the 'scripting' of some portions of the reality television program." It appears that whatever the truth of the situation, things got worked out between the two parties. In 2014, the network settled with Hester for an undisclosed amount and after missing Season 4, he returned to the series and stayed on through Season 12.

Ultimately, it's probably best to take any of the series' appraisals with a grain of salt and enjoy it for what it is: a fun, lighthearted television show.