Timberline Disposal faces barrage of service complaints from Summit residents, promises rapid improvement
An earlier version of this article misspelled Rob Gill’s last name. The spelling has been corrected.
FRISCO — Fed up with shoddy service, no communication and erratic billing practices for several months, some locals in Summit County have been airing their grievances about Timberline Disposal, one of the county’s largest waste management companies.
Timberline, which once was a locally owned company, has been going through several ownership and operation changes over the past few years.
Last year, Timberline merged with three other local waste management companies. Then in April, Timberline and several other Colorado waste contractors were bought by Vancouver, British Columbia-based international disposal company Waste Connections.
Earlier this month, Waste Connections sent out a news release announcing the acquisition of Timberline, promising to “hit the ground running,” assuring Timberline’s customers that they would not experience any difference in service owing to the ownership change.
However, current and former customers say Timberline and its parent company broke their promise.
Breckenridge resident John Cronin claimed Timberline had picked up his trash only twice in four months before he canceled service, but the company still kept billing him, and he had no way of getting them to stop, as their phone number was either busy, unanswered or off the hook.
Silverthorne resident Margo McIntyre, who lives in Sage Creek, said she had been experiencing service issues for two months and billing issues for at least six.
“Pickup has been erratic and never on the correct day,” McIntyre said. “Recycling is rarely picked up. We are not allowed per HOA rules to leave trash out overnight, but it doesn’t get picked up. It’s been a real pain.”
Breckenridge resident Renee Bartnick, who lives in the Valley Brook subdivision, said her neighborhood is in the process of trying to find another waste management company to work with after Timberline consistently failed to pick garbage or recycling there. Nobody at Timberline was answering the phone, she said. Bartnick called the situation “insanely frustrating.”
Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence, speaking as a private Breckenridge resident, raised concern about Timberline’s service in the Wellington neighborhood, a hotspot for bear activity.
“We’ve had a number of problems for a number of weeks where trash was not being picked up,” Lawrence said. “It was hard for neighbors to communicate with Timberline or to get an update of when trash will be picked up.”
As a result, Lawrence said, residents had become conditioned to leaving their trash out overnight in hopes of pickup the next day. But Lawrence said that led to many of her neighbors receiving warnings or tickets from the town of Breckenridge, which prohibits leaving trash out overnight to avoid baiting bears into human neighborhoods.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife district wildlife manager Tom Davies said leaving trash overnight is a huge concern for the community.
“Having trash out overnight teaches bears there’s a reliable food source that’s not natural, and then they get more habituated to humans and human neighborhoods,” Davies said. “When they lose their fear of people, there can be more bear issues that are possibly dangerous.”
Davies said it is still a homeowner’s responsibility to bring trash in at night if it wasn’t picked up during the day, regardless of service disruption.
Rob Gill, general manager of Timberline Disposal, acknowledged service problems over the past few months, blaming the disruptions and customer service issues on staffing in the wake of the ownership change.
“Since the purchase, we’ve been in the process of fixing the problems with lack of service,” Gill said, adding that the company made a hiring push recently. “We’ve had to go through a little bit of growing pains that were causing those issues. We do have a plan in place to remedy the problems, and it will get better.”
Gill said that as of June 17, Timberline once again was fully staffed and getting drivers and customer service representatives trained up. He said Timberline was limping along with a single customer service representative until recently, when two more reps were hired.
“I can assure our customers that our customer service is back up and responding — it’s 300% better,” Gill said.
On Friday, it appeared Timberline was making good on its renewed promises. Lawrence said that over the past week, she saw a “night and day” change in Timberline’s customer service, saying the company had reached out to residents having problems and was picking up trash regularly.
“I will tell you that this past week and this current week, they’ve been wonderful,” Lawrence said. “It’s been a rough few months, and a lot of people were really concerned the issues would continue. But Timberline has been very communicative and has been working to resolve their issues. They really did a 180.”
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