Trash update

January 23, 2013

As an update to my previous post, I’ve gone ahead and switched to Highland Sanitation, away from Advanced Disposal FKA Veolia.

After wasting a lot of time on the phone with Advanced Disposal last month, they said they would lower the bill to match Highland. Instead, the next bill that came seemed to show the same amount (although it was fairly difficult to decipher), and showed an underpayment, even though I paid what the prior phone rep at Advanced had agreed on. It also still had the “You may see an increase next month” warning at the bottom.

Meanwhile, my employer has been having some trouble with Advanced Disposal as well. They’ve been sending out overdue-bill notices for January, despite having cashed January’s payment nearly a month ago. When our accountant called Advanced, they weren’t able to find the payment in their system at all, even though our bank had a scan of the cashed check. Indecipherable bills aside, losing payments is a pretty big billing snafu, and combined with last month’s “computer error”, gives me zero confidence in their accounting department.

So today I switched to Highland Sanitation, who is both cheaper (consistently so, as they don’t have the variable fuel surcharge), local, and answers the phone on the 3rd ring, rather than sending you to hold music and a call center in who-knows-where. I can only assume they have a better accounting department too, as pretty much anything would be better than Advanced Disposal’s accounting.

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Trash Service in Saint Paul

December 14, 2012

I’ve been hearing for months that my current trash service, Veolia Environmental Systems, was being sold to a Florida company. Trash service salesmen keep coming around the house, and my office, trying to pitch the benefits of their companies, and warning of price increases. I’d mostly ignored it.

Today I got a somewhat half-assed bill from “Advanced Disposal”, the new owner of Veolia. I had a couple issues with this bill:

1. Who is Advanced Disposal and why should I open their letter? I almost shredded the letter for recycling without opening it, as I do with all the approved-credit and new-gutters and give-our-church-money postal spam that I get. If I don’t recognize the company, 99% of the time it’s going to be junk mail. I don’t remember any official notification that this would be the new company, and if not for all the salesmen, I wouldn’t have associated this letter with my trash service.

2. The due date was Dec 15th, and the letter was received Dec 14th. So there’s no way a check would make it on time. This is either incredibly sloppy invoicing,¬† or slightly shady business practice (my initial thought was ‘are they hoping people will throw away this bill and/or not make the due date, and be racking up late payments right away?’)

3. The invoice claims there may be a price increase on the next invoice, but the price had already gone up on this on from what Veolia used to charge ($2/mo more)

I called up Advanced Disposal, and after being treated to some overly loud and scratchy hold queue audio, I discussed the bill with a rep. She said that the due date “Should have been Dec 20” and they “Just noticed” the mistake. That’s still not a lot of time to get a payment mailed out, most of my other bills have a 2 or 3 week lead time. She also said that the price increase had already gone through.

I also noticed that Advanced Waste is not listed as a licensed garbage hauler in the city of St. Paul. I believe Veolia used to be, but they are not currently on the list (linked below). The phone rep claimed that they are licensed in St. Paul, using the same tax ID as Veolia. I’m not sure how often the list gets updated (see notes below).

The rep did offer to possibly match “base” price (minus tax, fees, fuel surcharge, etc) with another hauler, so I’ve been shopping around. Supposedly if I cancel today, there would be a “cart return fee” for Advanced to take back Veolia’s cart (or I could drop it off somewhere and avoid the fee), as well as a prorated bill for the pickups already made in December.

While the dodgy invoicing and possible lack of license makes me pretty leery of this new company, I decided to give it a shot with a price match. The second rep I talked to re-stated that the due date is an “Accounting calendar error” due to the purchase of Veolia, and said that late fees would not be assessed until the end of December. After talking to a supervisor, she was able to lower my bill to $17.97/mo, or $53.91 quarterly, about $12 cheaper than what was on my invoice. As I told the rep, I’ll see how late/sketchy the next invoice is and decide if I’m going to stick with them.

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For possibly-helpful-reference, here’s what various companies are charging for garbage service in St. Paul, as of Mid-December, 2012. The city does not have a municipal trash service, residents need to sign up with a private company. I’ve tried to compare apples-to-apples on price, each company seems to prefer it’s own flavor of size, billing cycle, pickup schedule, etc. Each company has a slightly different service area as well. For simplicity I’m trying to get prices for the smallest container (which seems to work just fine for a two-person household).

The list of “Licensed Companies” in St. Paul is here: http://www.stpaul.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/14276. Unfortunately there’s no date on the document, and some companies had merged or gone out of business, so I’m not sure how often they update this list.

Allied Waste Services, (651) 455-8634: $15/mo(?) for a 68 gallon container, and 50 cents less for the 35gal. This one was a bit confusing, as the phone rep initially said $15/mo billed quarterly, then said “About $55 every 2 months” with taxes and fees (So it would be $27/mo?). The information was too inconsistent, so I wrote them off.

Aspen Waste, (612) 884-8000: $21.60/mo for a 35gal bin, Billed quarterly, comes to around $64 per bill including taxes and fees. Weekly pickup. Friendly local guy on the phone.

Highland Sanitation, (651) 458-0043: $17.91/mo for 35gal, including tax. Can bill monthly or quarterly paid in advance. No fuel surcharges. Weekly pickup. Extra fee for yard waste (first bag free).

Horrigan Hauling: Phone # listed on city website was disconnected.

Ken Berquist & Son, (651) 699-2442: $24.25/mo for 35gal, “Including taxes”. $27.10 for a 65, and $29.95 for a 95. Doesn’t serve parts of St. Paul, including my area.

Gene’s Disposal, (651) 293-9310: $19.33 for 38gal, the “special price” for a 1-year contract (cancellation fee if close account early).

Walters Recycling Inc, (651) 493-4598: $21.04/mo for 35gal, including taxes and fees. Will take a couple extra bags at no extra charge, and cleans/sanitizes trash bins a couple times a year for free. Local family-owned.

A2J Disposal, merged with Walters, see above.

Red Arrow Waste Disposal, merged with Walters, see above.

Waste Management: Their website says pickup is every 2 weeks, which is too much of a hassle (I can barely remember what month it is). Didn’t bother calling them.

Garbage Man Inc: Went straight to hold, didn’t feel like waiting.

Mudek Trucking: Does not do residential garbage service.

Pete’s Rubbish Hauling: Doesn’t serve my area, but they recommended Highland Sanitation or Gene’s Disposal.

Advanced Disposal (FKA Veolia): $23/mo based on my invoice from Advanced. Talked down to $17.97/mo. Was previously $21/mo with Veolia. Extra charges for extra bags, and yard waste.