Bogus extra garbage charges SPU

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    Does anyone else scrutinize their utility bills as I do?

    I have a mini-garbage can (not the littlest one, the next one up – the square one with the impossible lid). SPU has repeatedly charged me for extra garbage pickup. There is absolutely no possible reason for these charges. I often don’t even put the can out, as it’s empty. When I do, it’s usually less than a pound of trash, never more than 5 pounds – kitty litter scoopings for one small cat, mostly. This size can allows for 30 lbs.

    When I’ve called SPU to complain, they treat me like a scammer. One representative told me that because I receive utility assistance I had no right to complain…which makes me suspicious of a connection? Has anyone else had a problem with these bogus charges appearing on their bill? It’s usually on the last page, so could be easy to miss.



    I’ve had this issue with yard waste. I called and they reversed the charge though.



    I have had that issue too. They just appear on the bill with no explanation. I call and complain and they take them off because they can’t say what they are for. If they left me a note I would know but not until I see the bill 2 months later do I know and how can I know what it is?



    I’ve had this happen numerous times. I’ve never had extra garbage, so I just call and dispute it. They’ve taken it off the bill every time.



    I called to complain once. They told me it was because my lid wasn’t down completely. Apparently if the trash doesn’t fit so the lid will close down, they consider it too full. Even if it’s not packed full.



    This has happened to me at least half a dozen times. Lid closed securely, tiny amount of garbage. The last time it happened the same representative who told me I had no right to complain also told me they would not do another credit. We shall see.

    I do think this warrants some kind of investigation, especially as it appears to happen to lots of people for no apparent reason. I wonder how many people don’t check, and the charges just go through? I don’t see how this charge can happen accidentally; it has to be initiated by someone along the line. Does anyone have an idea who would have investigational oversight on this sort of thing?



    Jessie Jones may be an idea.

    It has happened to me too. I think mine was a neighbor and they keyed in my house number vs theirs. Maybe it’s your neighbor anon? The city saying you shouldn’t complain is not right.



    I’m separated by my neighbor by an alley; even so, I’ve suggested the possibility to SPU and they weren’t interested. My address is on the lid of the can…so – you’d think it wouldn’t be rocket science.

    Thanks for the Jessie idea. Think I’ll run it by him.



    I’ve had the same thing happen for 4 years – and I complain each and every time. They give me a hard time, but do reverse it.



    anonyme, This shouldn’t be difficult to resolve directly. You’ve seen a number of people have received a proper response. I would recommend trying again without bringing up the lame response you’ve received before. Just be pleasant but firm. If you encounter the same resistance, there are several questions you might find helpful:

    1. Help me understand what I must be missing here; this just doesn’t make sense to me.

    2. Who am I speaking with?

    3. May I speak with your supervisor?



    JTB, have done all of those things several times over. I won’t bore you with all the details of every conversation, but I can tell you that none of the answers were satisfactory. While the charges were reversed, the problem persists. The bigger point is that there seems to be a pattern here. It really does appear as if SPU (or WM) is routinely tacking on extra fees without any justification.



    We’ve had extra charges EVERY bill for the past year. I call each time and they reverse them. I explained to them that I triple-check to make sure our lid is fully on, without any overflow whatsoever. My neighbors tend to put out extra garbage but our cans are separated by a driveway. This last time, they mentioned that if it happened again, that they would do an investigation. We’ll see…



    Just checked my last several bills. I only see extra charges from last summer when we did put out extra yard waste. I wonder if it’s certain drivers that are the problem. Maybe your neighbors are putting out extra and the driver is confused about the address. I would complain about being told that customers who receive assistance shouldn’t complain. That’s TOTALLY rude and should be brought to the attention of a manager.



    KBear, I did actually call the Mayor’s Office about the comment, and received a letter of apology from the SPU supervisor. So I thought that part of it was handled pretty well.

    I did just remember another comment from customer service that is not as offensive, but just as idiotic. Once, when I asked how I could stop this from happening over and over, I was told “you can’t”. Customer service is equipped to reverse the charge, but don’t expect much else. It sounds from the responses that this is a pretty common issue. I’m trying to find out who (public official) oversees SPU; much as I appreciate what he does, I don’t want to be on TV with Jesse…!




    I’ve marked all my containers in white paint marker with my house address–mainly because the inevitable windstorm blows everything away. But it might help with confusion, not blaming the victim if that could be a factor.

    If you need to borrow one, ask. I can put it on the porch.



    JayDee, I appreciate the offer – but my can is already marked, right on the lid!

    Still a mystery. I’m going with conspiracy theory.


    4th of Eight

    Get whomever on The City Council is in charge of the utilities oversight



    Re the City Council: Sally Bagshaw is chair of Seattle Public Utilities and Neighborhoods. Kshama Sawant is vice chair of this committee. I suggest you contact both. Good luck, and please let us know how it goes.



    Jeannie, thanks for the info! If it had to be someone on the City Council, those are the two I’d expect to be at least somewhat interested.

    I’ll keep you posted.

    Again, thank you!



    anonyme, happened upon this discussion in searching for extra garbage issues — did you ever get this issue resolved? Our home is under construction and garbage service is on HOLD, yet we’re getting charged weekly. I call every billing cycle and get the same questions — we don’t even have the bins out, they’re locked in the garage. They were supposed to send an inspector in Oct and this did not happen; I requested one again last week. We installed a camera over the weekend and I’m planning to put a sign out saying “NO BINS HERE!”… pretty tight knit neighborhood so I expect it’s not someone putting trash in our yard. Getting frustrated at being on the phone for over an hour every other month trying to get to the bottom of this & about to fire off a letter to City Council myself.



    I haven’t had another incident since the one I reported here.

    I still suspect that this practice is widespread and not accidental. Since utility bills vary from cycle to cycle, most people don’t notice a $10 variation. While it’s outrageous to think that a government contractor might pad the bill (sarcasm), those little extra charges add up – and apparently without much scrutiny.

    I got results after calling the Mayor’s office. Your situation sounds different than mine. I don’t understand the justification for billing if your account is on hold. The lack of response is inexcusable. I’d start with the Mayor’s office and City Council, but Jesse might be able to expose a bigger problem. Good luck.

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