Chicago residents are being billed up to triple their trash service fee, with most over charges coming from single-family homeowners being billed at multiunit dwelling rates. The rollout of the new garbage collection fee began last month.
The errors are reportedly tied to a city database used for billing. The municipality has set up a self-certification site allowing residents to make corrections online. According to a Mayor's Office spokesperson, residents received two mailings explaining the new garbage fee and introducing the self-certification site.
Residents complain that not everyone has Internet access and that the city has been lax in informing residents they must check their property's listing for accuracy.
Billing issues are not new to the solid waste industry, and are a sure-fire way to send customers reeling, even when increases are not the result of an error. But kinks in the system, fueled by a change in systems and a lack of communication, exacerbate the problem.
In Chicago, there is definitely a big kink that needs to be shaken out. The question for customers is; as the city works toward resolution, should residents be held responsible for rectifying inaccurate bills from a system wide glitch?
Although the problem is not with trash companies, this is where good customer service and solid communication can help. Waste management companies that recognize this are writing these priorities into their budgets, investing as much as multimillions in customer service operations.