Friday, June 10, 2005

Talking Trash

I tried to make my first call to the utilities to begin cancelling service as of June 30.

Las Vegas has a private firm, Republic Services, (better than a government one, right) that picks up our trash and recycling.

I got my bill the other day and we typically pay in quarterly installments, so my question would have been do I pay the full bill and then have them reimburse me or should I just pay until June 30th? Had I gotten through, my question would have lasted about 30 seconds and their answer would have lasted another 30 seconds - total time: 1 minute.

I called them this morning and I got the 'we are having an unusally large call volume' please go to our website. Excuse me? What kind of 'in depth' questions do resiudential customers ask about trash? If this were a software company, I could understand long wait times - technical support has a customer on the line that he has to lead by the hand, it doesn't work, a reboot is required, ok, I'll hold on, etc.

But we're talking about trah here - either i want to start service or end it. Or, i put out my trah and you guys missed my street or something similar.

Even if Las Vegas is the fastest growing city in the US with 6000 people moving in every month and a loss of 1000 per month for a net gain of 5000 people a month. So let's do the math. If a typical 'family' has 4 members (thus, only need for one trash bill) that amounts to 1750 calls per month. That's assuming a 5 day work week. I don't remember if they said they are open on Saturdays. The the figure of 1750 from 6000 new residents, plus 1000 'emigrants' for a total of 7000, divided by a family of 4. Some of these are singles, but others (like Mormons- Breeding is Fundamental) have many more children so it all balances out.

If we assume that there are 4 weeks in any given month, that means there are 437.5 calls per week. For a five day week that's 87.5 calls per day. Not that many. I am assuming here, having just ONE person and one backup to cover for lunch and breaks. Breaking it down even further, since they claim they are open from 9 to 6 (summer hours) this amounts to less than 10 calls per hour. Or 6 minutes per call. If you add two more people (one for the phone and one backup) you could reduce wait times to 3 minutes per call. But I was on hold for 15 minutes the first time before I hung up and another 15 minutes later in the day before I hung up again.

So finally, I broke down and did what they wanted and sent them an email with my question, where they promise a 24 HOUR turnaround for my question. And you call THIS progress?

Despite all the hoopla over hi-tech, only 30% of American homes have a computer. Many people don't need one because they have access to one at work, but using company resources for a personal use (such as cancelling recycling) might get them in trouble.

I know older people who have no use for a computer even when their children or grandchildren offer to buy them one. I know people who are simply techn0-Luddites who think an answering machine is the ultimate in hi-tech.

So in my email message to Republic Services, I said "Thank you for FORCING me to use email and wait 24 hours for an answer that I could have gotten in 30 seconds if I had been allowed to talk to a live person. Here's a tip: Hire more people. Sure, it'll cost you more money, but who cares? Its not like our bills won't go up anyway.

Years ago, Republic Services sent a notice that there were going to raise rates by 15% over the next three years, 5% per year in increments. Then they sent out another mailer, saying screw it, we'll just raise rates by a one time 15% now to make it easier on me (but more expensive in the long run)


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