Micro-news for CT 4601, Altadena, CA

Notice of Intent (to cancel Allied Waste Services)

posted by Jeremiah 1/17/2008 07:21:00 PM



For shame!

A little background. As many in this area will recall, about two or three years ago, BFI was bought out by Allied Waste Services. When it was still BFI, Athens Services came to town , offering a cheaper alternative, but rather than switch, I called up BFI and told them I had a lower offer. BFI promptly matched Athens' rate without argument. Ever since Allied Waste took over, they have been trying to sneak up my rate, but each time I have called and told them that Athens is cheaper, and they have (now grudgingly) acquiesced and matched Athens rate.

Allied Waste bills quarterly, and I being the techno-dweeb that I am, have them on automatic bill-pay service. As it seems, last quarter (the bill due in October) they raised my rate by $5.06. Upon receiving payment for the normal amount, they decided to threaten me with a $25 penalty if I did not square up with them.

I received that notice in December, but being a busy month with work and being December holiday season, I didn't open it until last weekend. By then I already had a second notice along side the first one informing me that I was now delinquent and that I now owed them the penalty. I resolved to call them this week and take issue with the charges, but before I got around to calling, I received the above threatening letter in today's mail.

Not only is this an issue of a mere $5.06, it is also transpiring before they have even waited for a complete billing cycle to elapse. Most other companies I've dealt with simply put any balance due on the next bill, as long as you don't abuse the situation. In this case, I've paid like clockwork (almost literally, given that it is paid automatically by a service).

They inform me in the letter, "This is your final opportunity to settle this matter quickly and amicably. Be assured that should you fail to comply with this request, we will take whatever steps are necessary to protect our interests. Should it be necessary to file suit, we will request prejudgment and postjudgement interest, court costs, and all additional attorney's fees incurred in the prosecution of such an action, as allowable by law."

And then in a brilliantly ironic closing, "Respectfully, Collections Department"

I don't know whether to laugh or go ballistic. Maybe it's some kind of prank being played on me for Candid Camera.

Already I was on the fence because of their repeated attempt to raise the price. The primary thing that was holding me back from switching was an assumption that Allied must do a better job of separating waste because they start out with it separated by making us do it and sending three trucks up the street. Athens only sends one truck, making a total of four huge garbage trucks on Stonehill every week. Some of the neighbors have already been casually lobbying me to switch to Athens to limit the number of big trucks on Stonehill. After a quick Google search for an Athens website, I found out that my reservations about post collection sorting seem to be unfounded. http://www.athensservices.com/materialrecovery.htm

I am now bound and determined to lobby everyone on Stonehill (and anyone who will listen for that matter) to dump Allied Waste.

Let's see. More expensive, more trucks, more cans to bang around the yard, and terrible (non-existent) customer service for the same end result. Seems like a no-brainer to dump Allied Waste Services.

One reservation I have heard from some other Allied Waste customers on Stonehill was about price. I currently pay $62/quarter and they evidently are trying to raise me to $67/quarter, which is still about $20 less than what Athens quoted me when I called them for rate information. They don't have any promotions to offer, even when I suggested that we might bring a group of people to the table.

Here is what Athens told me on the phone:

$29.25/month (bills quarterly for $87.75/quarter)

With Athens you provide your own cans and they allow up to six 35 gal. barrels. They ask you to put your garbage in separate cans from green waste and recycling.

Anyone 55 years or more gets a senior discount of 10% or $78.49/quarter


Allied Waste quoted me the following:

10 containers for trash (you provide) except select routes which have the large cans (Allied provides)

Separate containers for recycle and yard waste (Allied provides)

Three separate trucks for each type of material.

Standard rate is $24.50/month + taxes & fees = "About $90-$100/quarter". The customer service rep could not tell me how that was calculated or give me a precise quarterly cost.

Senior rate is $19.12/month + taxes & fees. The customer service rep could not give me an estimate of what this would amount to on a quarterly basis.

Extra charges for bulky items (anything that doesn't fit in trash can):
$27 for first two items and $11 each additional

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At 2/01/2008 10:49 PM, OpenID rcalvinsma said...

Dear Stonehill News Blogger:

You are not the only one having problems with Allied Waste. A dear friend of mine who lives in Altadena, and, who happens to be 101 years old, has received the same letter. Since Allied took over, they've stopped giving her the senior discount; they increase her rate almost every month; and they are now saying she didn't pay her last bill (for Nov, Dec, and Jan)..... even though she has the cancelled check to prove it.

This was her last week with them. She switched to Athens.

Good Luck to you!!

 
At 2/01/2008 10:50 PM, OpenID rcalvinsma said...

I meant quarter, not month. sorry!

 
At 3/28/2008 5:20 PM, Blogger a said...

i live in Altadena and i pay Allied $86.22 or so every quarter. The cost is similar to Athens so no real advantage in changing except if Athens has better service

 
At 3/30/2008 5:34 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

That's right. The price is so similar it boils down to service. It's the (lack of) good customer service that inspired me to undertake this whole drama. Since I've switched, I'll admit to missing the huge rolling trash can.

All other things being equal, I think I'd probably be inclined to pick Allied based on features. I discovered that they have an automatic payment option (subsequent to switching to Athens). This would prevent the $5 payment drama I experienced, and taken in combination with the big rolling bin, I'm seriously considering going back to Allied for the features and convenience, despite my bad (or more to the point, impersonal) experience with their bureaucracy. Frankly, I have no assurance that I won't get the same sort of red-tape snafu from Athens, who has an arguably inferior product for the same price, and with automatic bill payment, I frankly should never have to talk to or interact with either of them.

I'll post a follow up if I do switch back.

 
At 5/25/2008 5:10 PM, Blogger Palm Axis said...

I'd go with the company thats Union and pays it's workers a living wage. BFI payed less then half of what the city of L.A. pays it's trash collectors. With Athens you can pay the guys out of pocket to carry out heavy items.
I have enjoyed visiting your blog..

 
At 8/26/2008 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi I'm so glad I found your blog.... I am currently with athens and being hassled beyond belief including being charged for a huge container they say I had in front of my house for a week. This didn't happen and not i have a 300.00 + bill for something I didn't order and they can't proved I ordered etc... but they sure are sending me to collections.... THE THING is .... everyone is talking about allied as having taken over BFI but I'm with Athens and my statement is from ALLIED! Do they now own both BFI and athens???? God help us!

 
At 9/05/2008 12:29 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

I don't think Allied and Athens the same company (as you say, God help us!). If you're getting a bill from Allied, that's probably different from Athens. I'd call them for clarification if I were you. Please let us know if it turns out they are somehow joined together.

Also, FWIW, I did switch to Allied with the automatic deduction. It's worth it for me to have the large plastic residential bin on wheels.

 

Wind-powered Blackout

posted by Jeremiah 1/17/2008 09:07:00 AM



As far as I know, we still have no power this morning (I'm in a Starbucks). According to Steve Gerow, the Edison message from last night estimated power being restored by noon today. My rough estimate from a walk last night is that the blackout area was all of Loma Alta east of Sunny Oaks and all the side streets off Loma Alta along the same stretch. Zane Gray and Rubio Crest were lit up as if nothing happened. I didn't walk around the bend towards Noyes, so I don't know how far east it really stretched. A few of us saw a truck driving around last night with a spot light, presumably looking for downed lines. My weather station computer stayed on battery power until about midnight. The image above is the last one it uploaded before the network went down.

[10am Update: Got back to Stonehill and found power had come back at about 8am. Updated wind gust chart above shows additional weather station logging all the way through the windstorm, and then a gap until it came back to life when the power was restored this morning.]

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Great Cougar Pic

posted by Jeremiah 1/17/2008 08:45:00 AM


This amazing shot of a mountain lion was posted on the ACT mailing list this morning with a caption reading in part, "Photo taken by JPL employee Wednesday,1-16-08, looking down into the Arroyo Seco from the bridge from the JPL east parking lot to the JPL campus."

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