A high bar for Waste Management customer service | Chuck Parrish

The bar is high for Waste Management. Customer service in the form of timely response to phone calls and timely resolution of problems is critical to how Waste Management is perceived in the community. WM is well positioned to provide good customer service.

In April of this year, the City Council held a public hearing to explore the question of mandatory garbage service in Tukwila. One individual showed up in favor and several showed up against mandatory service. The City Council decided against mandatory service and agreed to review the situation in a year.  I expect that things will not change.  This is democracy at work in Tukwila and credit goes to those who showed up to express their views.  As a consequence, we are all paying a little bit more for our garbage service from Waste Management. The rates can be found on the website at: http://www.wmnorthwest.com/tukwila. Go to Residential and then Rates and Billing.

When the city reviewed the contract proposals, it was found that the proposals of Allied Waste and Waste Management differed by less than $100. This was highly unusual given that the contract was worth several million dollars. The CleanScapes bid was quite a bit higher. The decision criteria were multifaceted. One consideration was the perception that Allied Waste customer service had been marginal. It was sporadic: sometimes good, sometimes bad.

The bar is high for Waste Management. Customer service in the form of timely response to phone calls and timely resolution of problems is critical to how Waste Management is perceived in the community. WM is well positioned to provide good customer service. Phone calls are handled by a regional customer service center in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island. About 135 customer service representatives are employed there. If we call from our home phone number, the representative can automatically see our accounts. We can opt for paperless statements and set up automatic payment with credit card or with a financial institution. WM has more than 150 trucks fueled by compressed natural gas and more are coming. Recycling trucks are separate from the garbage trucks. This prevents cross contamination.

WM is a participant in  RPIN.org. This is a good thing. Regional Public Information Network informs the public about street and highway closures, weather, major transit disruptions, and provides updates on what agencies are doing to respond to emergencies and incidents.  It is worth having an email subscription to RPIN.

Drivers are represented by the Teamsters union. The manner in which WM handled the labor contract negotiations earlier this year was troubling. Collective bargaining is important to the process of negotiating compensation packages that are fair to employees and affordable to the employer and its customers. It is worth keeping an eye on this down the road.

As a history develops with WM, additional information will be made available at Tukwila Reporter blog “As Chuck Parrish Sees It” and Tukwila Talk.

Tukwila Reporter columnist Chuck Parrish can be reached at editor@tukwilareporter.com.

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