Complaints regarding trash service within the city prompted a plea by the company's highest officials. During Kingstree Town Council's January 28, meeting several members of upper management with Republic Services (Fennell Container) stood before council to defend their business, mend the situation and if successful hold on to their contract.
Republic Services has been under contract with the town for at least 25 years. In July 2012, the town advertised for bids and ultimately renegotiated a contract with Republic Services to a tune of $270,000 from the previous contract of $600,000. However, a high rate of citizens’ complaints as well as a neglect to correct other problems prompted a January letter of termination.
Jamey Amick, Area President for Republic Services, SC, spoke on behalf of the group. Amick said he felt like service was improving and that they were actively working on the issues. "I want you guys, and girls to know this is a critical piece of business," said Amick. "It’s got our attention and we apologize for falling short of the mark."
Kingstree Town Manager Dan Wells complemented the team, saying discussions have been top drawer. However, he questioned whether the new contracted charge affected the level of service. "Its hard for us to forget ... that until we bid the project out this last time, our fees to you were $600,000 a year. And then when we bid it out, it dropped all the way to $270,000 for essentially the same service. "Was that bid too low and we should expect inferior service or were you charging us too much prior to the $270,000 dollar fee?" Amick defended the drop citing reasons such as a response to competition and an automated system. "We can make money with this," said Amick. "The level of service we provide is not reflected in the new price. It’s just miss communication, accountability and all the necessary essentials that go along with providing good customer service." Amick added that the town's service level had changed. Wells disputed his claim, saying he isn't aware of any additional services. "Matter of fact, we might have made it a little bit easier in that we got rid of the in-town, out-of-town services such as yard debris.”
Citizens’ complaints hit a high during November and December. Most were in regards to missed pickup. However, the time period covered three holidays, which meant a one-day delay for each holiday. Other complaints include reports of carts damaged by the truck and delayed delivery of requested carts.
Amick agreed the complaints, no matter how few were too many and said corrective action is underway. He said the company would implement weekly visits by a supervisor and implement a procedure that may alter the way complaints are viewed. "We will send administration a "not out" list. What we call a not out," said Amick. "When the driver goes through the town, the residents who do not have their containers out, we'll send a copy of that each and every day at the end of the day."
At the end of the discussion town attorney Ernie Jarrett said the termination letter would be construed as a right to cure, giving the company 30 days, by law, to improve service.