Garbage complaints pile up

Published 6:54 pm Friday, June 27, 2014

Willie Lou Carlisle was not pleased to read that Advanced Disposal was blaming most of its issues with trash service on delinquent accounts. Of the 3,200 residences serviced in Pike County, company representatives said 1,033 had not paid for the service.

“I saw red when I read the headline,” she said. “They were just lying. I had paid my bill and never skipped paying my bill and they skipped me several times.”

She agreed that those who were delinquent in paying for trash pick-up service should have it interrupted, but she said there were too many people with accounts in good standing being “punished” with inconsistent service.

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Carlisle owns Bob’s Grocery store in Goshen. She and her neighbor, Paige Parramore, say they often go weeks without service.

Carlisle said the first few times her garbage was skipped for two weeks at a time, she did not call Advanced Disposal and request that they credit her account. She quickly discovered that calling the Tallassee company solved nothing.

“They just gave me the run-around,” she said. “One time, they told me to pull my can out halfway into the parking lot. The next time they told me I didn’t have to do that, they would back up and pick it up. One time, they told me, ‘Oh, your pickup day is Friday.’ I just hung up.”

Carlisle is not the only Pike County resident disappointed with the service she has received from AD. Several business and residential customers have said their service has been spotty at best. County commissioners have had their share of complaints as well.

Billy Porter, general manager of Advanced Disposal, said all of that would change. During last week’s County Commission meeting, Porter said one-third of his Pike County accounts were delinquent. He also said he and his employees would address all the complaints Pike County residents had put forth.

Attempts to reach representatives from Advanced Disposal for comments on these latest complaints were unsuccessful.

Carlisle, owner of Bob’s Grocery Store in Goshen, has not seen any changes in her service since Porter’s promise. The garbage truck pulled into Carlisle’s lot on the regularly scheduled day. It circled the lot in order to reach her neighbor’s lot as it always did. Instead of backing the truck up to Carlisle’s garbage container as it routinely did, the truck started to drive away, she said.

Carlisle got her garbage picked up by tearing out of her business and yelling and chasing after the truck. “It shouldn’t have to be that way.”

Parramore has a few theories about the company’s poor service. She and Carlisle sit by themselves on Conecuh Street with only Goshen Elementary School across from them. She has seen her garbage truck come to the end of Little Oak Road and bypass them by making a left and picking up trash along the more populated end of the street. Her home and Carlisle’s business have just been forgotten.

Another theory of Parramore’s is the company has a high turnover and no plan to cover routes when someone quits or is abruptly fired, which would explain the occasions when all of Little Oak Road and Conecuh Street are skipped. Parramore once called the company to report that both roads had been skipped. She was told a truck would be sent to her home, but the other households would each have to call for service. Sure enough, the truck drove past the streets of full trashcans and emptied only hers.

Parramore quickly learned she needed to document the days her trash was not picked up.

“We were skipped April 1, April 22, May 6, May 20 and they didn’t come next day or the day after that. Our garbage wasn’t picked up until Tuesday, May 27,” she said. “They skipped us June 3 and still didn’t pick up June 4 or 5. On June 6, sometime that night or early in the morning, they came up and picked up my new can and left and old one. And it just goes on and on and on.”

Parramore’ said no one has offered to credit her account when she repeatedly called about her service. But she has heard a variety of excuses “and out-right lies” for the missed pickups.

“I was told the problem was there’s no scheduled pickup day. Then I was told they had a new driver. Then I was told the new supervisor had been fired,” she said. “I’ve caught them in so many lies, they’ll tell you anything to get you off the phone or to make themselves look good.”

Parramore said it has gotten to the point where her husband said he would not pay the bill anymore. “Maybe that’s why they aren’t paying them,” she said of the reported delinquent accounts.

Helen Dunn stopped calling Advanced Disposal’s customer service in Tallassee. She said she only gets results when she calls the corporate office (866-252-0458). “Corporate has been very helpful.”

Dunn has experienced trouble with her service at home and at her job, Terra Cotta.

“It’s gone on for weeks. Then I get to talk to people being ugly about it,” she said.

Five or six weeks ago, Dunn came home and her garbage can was missing. She thought the company had finally decided to replace it because of the lid’s broken hinge.

When she called to make sure, she was told it was picked up for nonpayment.

“I open everything that comes to my house. I did not get a bill,” she said.

Representatives from AD said it was not their fault. Dunn was responsible for the quarterly payment whether a bill came or not. Now, she depends on alerts she set on her phone to know when her payment is due.

“I had to pay a fee for them to bring me a new garbage can,” she said.

The new can took about a month to be delivered.

“Also, in my area, these little county roads, I’ll be driving out on them and there will be garbage cans in the roadway that you have to dodge,” she said.

Dunn would like to see county commissioners get to the bottom of what appears to be a countywide problem.

“I think that they need to make sure that this problem is solved and do whatever they need to do,” she said. “And if they can’t get action from Advanced Disposal, get someone who will take action.”

The commission has a contract with Advanced Disposal, making them the only available service to residents outside the municipalities of Brundidge and Troy.

Mary Pons, an attorney with the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, said breaking the contract was not as simple as it might seem.

“If they were to cancel a contract on Tuesday, who’s going to pick one up on Wednesday?” she said.

Generally, county commissions have to go through a competitive bid process before awarding the contract to someone new. That process takes weeks.

After hearing from Porter, commissioners said they would give the company the opportunity to rectify the situation before taking any action.