Waste management companies may victimize customers by unfair and deceptive practices regarding overcharges for annual fees and services, says business litigation attorney Keith T. Belt.
Most waste management companies, servicing commercial customers, have Service Agreements that have a variety of clauses written into them, which bind the customer to a series of fees and allow the company to take certain actions.
- Agreements are long-term and “evergreen” meaning they automatically renew for another term, unless the customer gives notice within a short window of time by certified mail.
- Agreements contain stringent enforcement mechanisms, for the company, to collect liquid damages for “early termination” and seek attorney’s fee plus costs for failure to pay damages.
- Agreements allow the company to increase the service rate each year by a percentage equal to the rate of inflation published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. City Average Consumer Price Index For All Urban Consumers (CPI-U)
- Agreements many additionally reflect a separate “fuel charge” to account for increases in the price of fuel.
After a review of waste management contracts, in many cases, the following factual allegations with respect to the company’s agreements were found:
- Long term “evergreen” provisions are punitive in nature locking the customers into long-term, auto-renewing contracts with no reasonable method of avoiding wrongful conduct.
- Annual increases in the service rate charged each year should reflect the rate of inflation published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. City Average Consumer Price Index For All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). The recent annual rate increases, experienced by the Plaintiff, do not reflect the rate of inflation and in fact, rates were increased even in years when inflation was negative.
- An additional “fuel charge” was separately billed to the Plaintiff even though the Consumer Price Index includes increases in the cost of fuel. Thereby, the Plaintiff suffered arbitrary and inflated rate increases above and beyond what is allowed contractually.
Currently, there are several hundred waste management companies operating in the United States providing service to millions of commercial, municipal, industrial and residential property owners. Some of the largest are:
- Waste Management, Inc. serving 20 million customers
- Republic Services serving 15 million customers
- Casella Waste Systems operating in 34 states
If you believe that your waste management is charging you illegal or unnecessary fees or surcharges, contact Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. and our business dispute lawyers will be happy to discuss your situation with you. You will need to provide us with a copy of your vendor file, which would contain the service contract/agreement, invoices, and correspondence.
We have business litigation lawyers in Montgomery, business litigation lawyers in Mobile, business litigation lawyers in Huntsville, and business litigation lawyers in Birmingham in order to best serve you at any location nearest you.