Customers say Timberline Disposal waste service woes continue despite assurances for improvements
FRISCO — Timberline Disposal & Recycling, one of Summit County’s only waste-hauling companies, continues to be hammered by customer complaints after promising smoother service earlier this year.
Several disgruntled customers reached out to the Summit Daily over the past month claiming Timberline still had not cleaned up its act. The customers allege Timberline continues to miss pickups, take away customer trashcans without reason or notice, and provide little in the way of helpful, responsive customer service.
These are all complaints that Timberline representatives promised to rectify when contacted by the Summit Daily in June, including the staffing shortages and customer service availability.
Susan Yates, of Silverthorne, said the situation is “getting out of control,” claiming after a brief resumption of normal service, Timberline went back to its old ways earlier this month.
“They have not changed their colors and have not picked up our garbage today,” Yates wrote to the Summit Daily last week, adding that she was unable to reach anybody at Timberline after hours on a weekend to address the missed pickup.
“They should lose their license to do business in this county and issue refunds to all customers who have paid for service not received,” Yates wrote.
Summit resident John Spencer wrote saying Timberline took away his trash can with no explanation or replacement, a similar complaint made by other customers in previous months.
“They stole my bear proof can and won’t replace it,” Spencer wrote, adding that he called the police to report the taking. “Shameful. The cop even said he has had problems.”
Tracy Glass, a resident of the Highlands neighborhood in Breckenridge, said she had experienced “countless” missed pickups and had not been able to get through to a customer service agent at Timberline. Glass said she had never experienced such poor communication with Talking Trash, one of the local waste hauling companies that merged with Timberline in February 2018.
“The office line is never answered, our messages are never replied to, and usually the elevator music is all we get when calling,” Glass said. “Talking Trash was local. We had a few issues, but they were always responsive, unlike Timberline. I’m hoping that Waste Connections will improve our service but have low expectations.”
In June, Timberline’s district manager Rob Gill had made assurances that the company’s staffing and customer service issues had been resolved. At a meeting last week with county officials, which included an executive from Timberline’s parent company, Waste Connections, Gill once again offered assurances that staffing and customer service issues had been rectified.
Tom Gosiorowski, Summit County’s public works director, was present at the meeting. He said Timberline’s representatives acknowledged the litany of service problems in the wake of the company’s acquisition by the Vancouver, British Columbia-based waste management corporation.
“We had a good conversation with (Waste Connections), and they were honest with us and forthcoming about the challenges they faced as they acquired Timberline and a whole group of waste haulers,” Gosiorowski said. “They were honest about their struggles and what they’ve done to correct them.”
In response to the continued complaints, Gill said the company had actually gotten compliments from customers on the service turnaround over the past month.
Responding to missed pickups, Gill said there would “always be a missed pickup here and there.” But Gill also said the company let go of a few truck drivers due to safety concerns, which led to more missed pickups since June than anticipated. New drivers had been hired, he said, and the team was “ready to go.”
“We’re sitting in a lot better place than when (Waste Connections) took over the company,” Gill said. He added that customer service was fully staffed and ready to handle customer concerns properly from here on out.
If Timberline continues to rack up complaints from residents, Gosiorowski admitted the county has little in the way of regulatory power to hold Timberline accountable. However, the county does have the power to refuse renewal of a license the company needs to conduct trash disposal.
“The only recourse we have is through what we call designated disposal site licensing program,” Gosiorowski said. “The county attorney has advised me that we have some language that says we can refuse to renew a license. When looking at renewal, we can take into account if some sort of public harm is being caused by their operations.”
Such public harm, Gosiorowski said, might include public health concerns and wildlife baiting in bear country.
Though options in the county are limited, Gosiorowski said the waste management market could correct itself if customers vote with their dollars and switch hauling providers.
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