Trash Troubles

This past week has turned into a wrestling match with the trash company. Every once in a while, our home owners' association distributes a pamphlet with updates on the community. In the latest one, there was a blurb that mentioned if you were using Republic Waste Services and were paying over $34.50 each quarter, to give them a call and ask for the HOA rate. Our rate had risen from a nice $32.50 at the beginning of 2004, to the latest bill which rang in at over $40. So I gave them a call. It turns out, our HOA never negotiated a rate with Republic. The operator on the phone said that several people had called, and they were going to meet on it later in the week to decide what to do. In the meantime, I had a talk with my buddy Anthony, who also used Republic's service. I was paying a rate equivalent to $13.00 per month, plus fuel surchages. Anthony was paying $17.00 per month! He was getting the same service, and lived only a couple houses down the street, yet his bill was over $10 higher than ours.

Today, I got a call back from Stacey at Republic. She let said that they had decided to offer me a rate of $12.00 / month plus a $0.46 fuel surchage per month if I would sign a 3-year contract. I asked about the terms of the contract, and they would only guarantee my rate for the first year. That sounded awful risky to me, especially with the history of Republic raising their rates over the last year. I also discovered that Republic was doing the commercial trash pick-up for office, and had jerked us around quite a bit with missed pick-ups and overcharges. All of these added up and prompted me to start calling around to see what else I could get.

I found four service providers that performed residential trash pick-up service in my area, with a Friday pick-up day (required by the HOA). Here is the breakdown of rates:

CompanyNormal RateFuel SurchargeTote RentalNotes
Best Way$13.25N/aN/a2 totes included in normal price.
Republic$12.00$0.46N/a3-year contract required
Republic$17.00$0.46N/aRate without Contract
Waste Managment$16.40$0.30-$1.00$2.00Fuel surcharge based on average cost of diesel
All rates are monthly

As you can see, there were quite a few options out there. Rays had the best offer, although we would need to either rent a tote, buy one, or go without. Best Way was offering something slightly better than what my current arrangement is with Republic. Republic's contractual offer really spooks me, and I don't trust them, so we'll likely make the switch to someone else. How Waste Management came to their pricing confuses me, as it isn't really competitive with the other folks (unless you consider the "standard" rate from Republic at $17.00). Why do all utility services have to turn into a haggling hassle like this?


Jade Mason