We moved to Tyrone in 2016.
Our first garbage and recycling bill was $54 per quarter. Eighteen months later our collection company raised the price to $63 per quarter. Over the following 18 months the price gradually increased to $84. The bill for the first quarter of 2020 brandished yet another price increase to a whopping $110 per quarter.
We’ve had the same service the entire time — garage collected weekly, recycling every two weeks, and the roll-away containers are the same ones that were initially provided in 2016.
I called my company’s billing department to inquire about the rate increase. They offered to match any price offered by their competition.
Looking for that rate I posted the following on nextdoor.com:
“My garbage and recycling collection company has doubled in price over the last 18 months to $110 a quarter. Who do you use? How expensive are they?”
(I should mention here that nextdoor.com calls itself a “social networking service for neighborhoods.” I’ve found it to be very useful for many purposes.)
The comments to my post taught me the following:
• Prices for service like mine vary wildly. Someone and their 4 closest neighbors with the same garbage company probably pay 5 different rates.
• Service like mine shouldn’t cost any more than $65 per quarter. Reportedly, some charge as little as $42.
• Some companies offer free quarters for poor service.
• One company appears to have a good reputation for stable pricing.
• Multiple companies like mine have run the racket of raising prices at a calibrated rate, while offering to match prices when challenged by customers.
– Some customers have left those companies altogether.
• Some customers want to start a united movement to pressure companies to keep their rates stable.
So, armed with this information, I called my garbage company’s customer “service” again to negotiate. Speaking to the same representative who offered price matching, I asked for the $42 rate and was promptly told that they couldn’t match that price, and that they only “try” to match prices, you see.
We ultimately settled for a rate of $78 for both garbage and recycling. The representative made sure that I understood that the rate may go up again in the future.
Do companies have the right to test their customers for what they can charge? Sure. However, it puts the onus on us to keep them in check. (I am more-than-a-little bit embarrassed that it took a 100% increase before I did something about it.) Companies can only gouge prices if their customers let them — companies that aren’t monopolies, that is.
I am thankful that there is competition for everyone’s business and that we have the means to spread the word.
Peace. And remember, freedom isn’t free.
David A. Benoit