These can be very disappointing and costly accidents, when personal items are lost down the trash chute or elevator shaft. Even dangerous, if there is an expectation that our team find such missing items.
With the trash chute, we can’t just open it up and magically find missing items. Fortunately, items dropped do typically end up below. However, these end up going through the compacter and get bunched up with all sorts of undesirable materials such as broken glass and rotting food. Our team will do what they can, but it is a multi-person job and the employees must take a lot of precautions and protect themselves while digging through the garbage. If we have to do this, it is $100 per hour per employee, and this can add it up quickly when we are trying to find something as small as a ring.
We get asked – “Can’t you just let us go through the dumpster?” And, NO! You absolutely cannot. That would be dangerous and a massive potential liability to the Association, not to mention that working in the compactor area is not just as easy as lifting a lid off a garbage can.
The elevator shaft has it’s own set of challenges. There are cables, wires, tracks and all sorts of other gizmos and fixtures from the roof level all the way down to the pits. If you drop a set of keys, and they fall through the threshold, they may not end up all the way at the bottom. There is a lot of stuff they can get caught on between where you drop them and the pit. When this happens, we have no choice but to pay a technician from OTIS elevator to ride the top of the cab up and down the shaft, and their time can cost upwards of $300 per hour. Sadly, we are prohibited from allowing our own staff from riding the cabs in that way.
While we are fortunate that our team typically finds such missing items – and in case you are wondering AMAZINGLY yes they did find the wedding ring, which we were told was worth over $10,000 – imagine if we hadn’t. We will do our best, but there are no guarantees. Recently we were unable to find a set of keys, and the Owner was unwilling to pay for the elevator technician. There are times when maintenance will be needed requiring the tech to ride the top of the elevator cab and perhaps they will find the keys eventually, but that could be months from now.
The moral of the story – properly stow and care for your belongings before using the trash chute or riding the elevator.