Saturday 14 April 2012

Fuss About Nothing?

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

Although I'm not the most patient of people, I think I am reasonable and try and see things through others' point of view even if I do fail at times.
However, my patience is now running very thin.
There has been a bit of a saga going on here for the last month concerning our household and the City Council. Maybe it is not the City Council's fault but they gave a contract to a firm who deals with our garden waste and all the other things that we now have to recycle.
I'd like to add that I am a keen recycler and fully support all recycling.
So what is the fuss about?

I pay the Council a sum of money every year for a green bin and the chance to have this emptied every week, providing I put it out on the pavement by 7 am on collection day.
The green bin is for garden waste, leaves and plants, small branches, weeds and grass cuttings etc. Among the other things that are on the list for collection in this bin is small animal bedding, providing they are not meat eaters and this includes rabbits.
I have had the rabbits for two years and there has never been any problem with the Council picking up my green bin contents........ until now, that is.

The problem began a month ago when my bin was not collected. I do struggle with getting the bin out because of my hip and spinal problems not to mention my sore wrists that are arthritic.
Well it is worth the effort to get the bin emptied. I have a small garden and cannot now cope with compost bins because it is all too heavy for me.
If the bin isn't emptied, then I have to struggle to get it in and out of the garden several times until the next collection date, while the bin gets heavier with more things being added.

The first time I complained by phone, I was told that my bin hadn't been emptied because I'd not paid my yearly subscrition. I was a bit surprised by this and went to the bank to find out if there was a problem. They said everything was fine and that they'd rung the Council for me and the money was going through by Direct Debit as it always had done. I was told it was an Council administration error.
However, the Council insisted that I hadn't paid and when I pointed out that my next door neighbour's waste bin hadn't been collected either, the girl I was speaking to told me that whole streets were on the fiddle and that they were clamping down on all the people who had green bins but were not paying.
I thought this was a terrible thing to say to someone who had always paid and I guessed the neighbour hadn't got into arrears either. I think the street had been missed out by the collectors.
The woman said it was my word against hers but because I was making a fuss they would send someone round to empty my bin. I asked them to empty the neighbour's bin too as it was out on the street next to mine.

My husband was painting the front door when the lorry came round on a different day from normal, especially to empty my bin. They told him I was not on the list of people who had paid so they shouldn't really be doing it. They didn't empty my neighbour's bin although it was on the pavement by mine.
When I learned about this I rang to complain about my neighbour's bin and to give them the details of my payment from the Bank Statement that I had found.
I asked why they'd left my neighbour's bin when it was out on the street next door to mine?
They told me the neighbour hadn't actually complained. I asked if they thought this was a complete waste of public money to have to keep coming back to empty bins several times when it could be done in one visit.
I was assured that everything would be collected the next week.

I shouldn't have been surprised when I realised my bin had not been emptied on collection day the following week. I was told, when I rang to complain, that I hadn't paid, so the Council couldn't collect. I reminded them of my Direct Debit details, told them of my health problems and the fact that I found the bins difficult even when they were not so full and although they seemed empathetic about that, they still insisted that it was because I hadn't paid.
However, they would phone through to admin and try and get me taken off the *black list*.

The next week I put my green waste bin out with a sinking heart because I didn't have high hopes of it being emptied. I was rather shocked to hear from my husband that next door's bin had been emptied but mine hadn't. The lorry had come but not taken my bin contents. Instead they had slapped a note on it to say it contained things that they couldn't handle.
I rang up again.
"Oh...... you mean there are animal faeces in the green bin? Well no wonder they wouldn't pick up."
I explained that the rabbits' droppings in their bedding didn't exactly come under the heading of smelly faeces. (Though technically they were faeces). I asked if they would go and check if there were new rules that said they wouldn't take rabbit's bedding/droppings anymore. They came back and told me that no, rabbits' droppings and bedding were considered alright for recycling and that perhaps the collectors thought I'd put in cat faeces.
I think a two year old would be able to know the difference between rabbit droppings and cat faeces and I asked them how the drivers could be enlightened about it. After a long think, the rather polite man I was speaking to asked if I could put a note on my bin saying that it was rabbit bedding and nothing to do with cats. The man was very apologetic and said he was writing quite a severe complaint to the drivers.

I did tell them that every time the bin is not emptied on collection day, I was going to complain and ask them to come out and empty my bin on another day. This is what they are obliged to do if the bin gets over looked.

So if you are all wondering why your Council tax bills are so high, then maybe this has something to do with it.
I am not getting too excited about my bin getting emptied on collection day. Maybe I will never get it emptied again.
Would you be annoyed if you were paying for a service that was not being done?
Any suggestions, if they continue to miss out my bin?


Lindsay said...

Sorry to hear of your bin troubles. Wiltshire have just gone over to recycling green waste - but it is free!

CorvusCorax12 said...

i be extremely annoyed...I'm lucky i live in a rural area and can just put my stuff on a big compost heap.

dianefaith said...

You seem to have encountered a lot of rudeness from the people you've talked to, and that may be even worse than the incompetence. I hope this is all settled for you -- soon. It's not "nothing" when it's taking up so much of your time.

Working Mum said...

That sounds quite unacceptable; is there a section of the Council that you can complain to about this section? If not, then the local paper might be option.

Our council recycles green stuff including our hamster waste as part of our council tax bill, I would be even more annoyed if I had to go to the trouble of arranging separate payment and it doesn't get done.

I'm in a ranty mood today, so you rant on, Maggie!

Jeni said...

I try to be pretty complacent as much as possible but if something gets my dander really worked up, then Katie, Bar the door because I will really go on the warpath. If I were you, I would tell them if they are concerned about the stink from the rabbit dirt, that's nothing compared to the stink that will be raised until this gets corrected! If you are paying for a service and abiding within their rules, then you have every right and then some, to demand that said service be provided and pronto too! Letters to the newspaper as well as letter(keeping copies of all too) to the Council and even to specific individuals on the Council. Contact the local TV station as well and check with your neighbors and perhaps get them onboard with you with a letter and phone campaign to get this issue corrected. Especially the issues with the payment they say you haven't made but the bank says has been done -get papers from them to supply to the Council as well. Raise Cain, Maggie -because you are on the side of what's right and should be tended to!

Suburbia said...

Maggie I am already fuming! How ridiculous? Do you know I have had trouble with rudeness and the bin men leaving food waste on the pavement outside my house and I have also complained. I think a new company has taken over the waste disposal services for the council and the service seems to have declined since this happened, May- something -Gurney I think they are called now.

When I complained I wrote an email to the chap in charge of waste and recycling at the council, you can google for his name, perhaps you could try that?

I think you should continue to complain and maybe write to the local paper?

Rant over!! :-)

Expat mum said...

The problem is, they are answerable to no one. They have what you need (waste collection) and think they can call the shots. It's outrageous.
I would do as has already been said, either go on to the web site and find the complaints procedure, ring the local paper or - better yet - call a few local TV stations. If you go on to their web sites, they might have a place for viewer suggestions. Your angle could be - the complete waste of tax payers' money. They love that!

Eddie Bluelights said...

They don't seem to be blessed with an abundance of grey latter between their ears do they?
This mind blowing incompetence squalled only by my my recent experience when mt phone was cut off and I was unable to find anyone who could get it back.
I think a call to our local radio station is in order for their programme dealing with sheer incompetence. Also they seem to be completely oblivious to the fact that these people are suppose to be in a role involving customer satisfaction. The mind boggles!!

Rosaria Williams said...

Oh my! I would be livid by now too. Hope the problem gets solved.
What I would do? Show up and complain at every public meeting! Then, get fliers and share with my neighbors, so all of us could complain together.
Somebody is playing games, and it's not you.

Jackie said...

You have a legitimate complaint, and as I read this blog, I was astounded at the insensitivity of those in charge and those collecting the trash (we call it trash/garbage)...and my feathers were ruffled as I read this, Maggie.
Is there someone 'higher' you can take this complaint to? I hope that it is resolved soon.
Love to you, my friend.

Rose said...

It sounds like a serious case of incompetence in your Council! I think they should refund part of your money; after all, you've been paying for a service you haven't been getting regularly. Having once had a rabbit myself, I agree any two-year-old could tell the difference between rabbit droppings and cat feces:)

Akelamalu said...

How annoying! Shame you can't get your bin down to the town hall everytime they don't empty it and tip the contents on their front step.

Write to your local paper and get in touch with your local radio station too asking them to highlight the problem Bad publicity for the firm responsible may make them buck up their ideas.

Mimi said...

Maggie, I'm actually getting annoyed for you!
Imagine putting you to that much bother, and forcing you to use that energy that you could be conserving towards your health.
Fair play to you for continuing to phone them, it takes commitment.
It is not fair, and i hope it changes soon.

Brian Miller said...

ugh i hate when stuff like this happens...the bane of my existence is verizon...i know they are not trash but still a service organization and do not give it good...

Sandi McBride said...

government employees are little despots who enjoy lording it over people...and what (pray tell me) is there problem with cat doo? Shall we go on strike and stop killing the mice that carry the plague??????? Tell them for me, will you?
batgirl (with sandi)

Beryl Ament said...

First your neighbor, then the City Council—it saps your energy, doesn't it? No-one responds to logic or common sense. Hope things are looking better by now.

Sally Wessely said...

I think they need some new leadership at the Council, or maybe the leadership needs to know what a poor job their hired help is doing. You pay their wages; keep complaining. I would also go to a public meeting and try to get my neighbors to go with me. This is just not good.

Anonymous said...

It's just a joke isn't it. I'm so sick of hearing about councils being strapped for money, making cuts etc, and all the while, it's us ordinary, tax paying citizens that are being penilised.

I've had trouble with the bins many times. Because we live very remote, they always think they have a good excuse not to empty it and usually come up with the excuse whenever I ring to complain. To be honest, cliche or not, I do feel as do most other people who live in my area, that the only service we are getting is the bins being emptied. In fact, I think I'll write a blog post about this myself at some point and link you in on it. Ooooh, I'm so cross!!

CJ x

Anonymous said...

Maggie, I've added this post to my Blog Posts of the Week page on my blog. If you have any objections, let me know and I'll remove it!

CJ x

MARY G said...

You bet! Keep at 'em. Well done.

FeltByRae said...

That is really appalling, if you pay for a service you should expect to get the service. Good on you for getting them back out each time they let you down

Happy Frog and I said...

So sorry you are having to deal with this along with everything else that you have going on in your life. I really hope it gets sorted out soon but do keep pushing them to do something.

Gail Is This Mutton? said...

This bureaucratic imcompetence makes me so angry. My best advice is to Google the name of the person who runs your council and write to him/her direct, including the URL for your blog post. They are lucky you haven't named and shamed them!

Sueann said...

Unfortunately you will probably have to keep calling them to come back until the drivers get educated. This may take some time! Good luck
I also hate bureaucracy!!! Hate hate hate it.

Secret Agent Woman said...

Wow, that's crazy. I don't know what you can do other than to continue to call until they get it right. Sorry you're having to deal with this!

Hilary said...

What a ridiculous waste of time. You might want to draw up a letter of sorts expressing that you'll hold them legally responsible if your repeated lugging of the full bin results in any sort of injury or deterioration to your health. And that can include the stress which they cause you. Include a copy of your paid records, phone calls and the names of those with whom you've spoken, and tape one of each to your bin.

Yes, they should recognize rabbit feces.. it seems to be what their brains are made of.

I'm sorry you're going through this mess.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Good for you Maggie - stick to your guns. Of course it is very irritating to have to keep ringing the Council about the same problem, especially if you get someone on the other end who is not very helpful/sympathetic. I do hope it gets sorted very soon. Perhaps you should send them an invoice for all the telephone calls you are having to make to them.

CiCi said...

Maybe a letter from the bank declaring that the transaction was indeed paid. This sounds like so much confusion by people who only work the phones and are not communicating well with others in their own department.