ANDERSON -- CARDS Trash Service, servicing Anderson, Goodman, Pineville, Lanagan, Southwest City and Noel, has received a myriad of complaints since it started offering service in the county in February.
At Anderson's city meeting held on June 21, CARDS owner Dan Christensen addressed concerned citizens and the city council. Anderson city clerk Andrea Browning noted various complaints voiced by concerned citizens, such as their trash not being picked up, trash being picked up at inconsistent times, or trash not being fully taken.
At the meeting, Christensen proposed all citizens paying for trash pickup receive a new trash receptacle, which would increase individuals' bills $2 to $3 per month. The new cans would hold up to 250 pounds, hold up to eight kitchen trash bags, and has a 10-year warranty. CARDS director of government affairs Jason Fitzgerald said the new receptacles would make routes faster and increase driver retention as pickups would require less manual labor. Christensen and Fitzgerald said the new bins would make cities look more uniform as well as increase the safety of their employees.
Anderson mayor Rusty Wilson said the city would not agree to implement the new bins until there have been improvements in the service, giving CARDS 30 days to implement positive changes.
"February 1 CARDS took over the contract from Henson and, of course, they had a very rough start," Wilson said. "Over the last five months, it's been rough for our citizens," Wilson said, noting that citizens often don't know their pickup times, or their trash is missed entirely."
Wilson said changes he hopes to see in the time period he allotted CARDS include all trash being picked up on time or within two hours of citizens' designated pickup time, all trash collected, no complaints from citizens, and citizens seeing tangible improvements. Wilson said when Anderson was serviced by Henson trash service, the city never received a complaint. Wilson said if CARDS does not meet these requirements in the time allotted, Anderson will start searching for a new trash company.
"I just want our citizens to know that we're working to get the improvements; we're not overlooking this," Wilson said. "We want them to know that we are working to help them and serve them better." Wilson said, as of June 24, he'd not seen any significant improvement from CARDS.
Jason Fitzgerald, director of government affairs for CARDS, said overarching issues include drivers not knowing all routes and nuances of individual's routes, switching from night service, and righthand trash pickup (only picking trash up on the right side of the road).
"We didn't have anyone to help us learn the routes, so there was a little bit of a learning curve understanding some of the routes," Fitzgerald said. "It took a few weeks, but we started to get the hang of it."
Fitzgerald said CARDS does not do night service, to enhance the safety of their employees. Fitzgerald said righthand trash pickup is also enacted to enhance employee safety.
Fitzgerald said one of his goals for CARDS in the county is consistency. "Consistency. We want to be consistent," Fitzgerald said. "We're to the point now where we're learning these routes, we have learned these routes. We're understanding where trashcans may be," Fitzgerald said, adding that a lot of residents do not take their trash to the curb but still expect trash pickup, as that's how they were serviced by their previous trash company.
Fitzgerald said additional initiatives taken to improve CARDS quality of service include improving the call center by adding more employees in the center, improving route sheets (which can offer documentation of missed trash or route nuances), improving note-taking, and management joining drivers on routes to ensure quality standards. Fitzgerald added that all trucks will soon have cameras and tracking systems, which can further ensure effective service.
"We don't want to talk about it; we want to show people we're making improvements," Fitzgerald said. "Yes, we want to talk about some of the changes and improvements we're doing, but we also want to show those changes and improvements."
Fitzgerald said the company cares about issues that have occurred and wants to fix those issues. "We care very much," Fitzgerald said. "I challenge anyone who doesn't think this group of people who work at CARDS want to pick their trash up, I would challenge them to come to visit with us and go on a route."
Fitzgerald said he encourages concerned citizens to call with any issue, ensuring that complaints will be taken seriously, and further improvements will be made.