Deffenbaugh apologizes for trash pickup delays

Blames shortage of drivers

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - After a series of trash pickup delays plagued the metro earlier in 2016, a flood of recent complaints has Deffenbaugh facing heat yet again.

41 Action News received several complaints early Monday from customers claiming their trash hasn't been picked up for more than a week.

"We had promises the whole week. Every day they say, 'We'll come by tomorrow. We'll come by tomorrow,'" said Overland Park resident Daniela Frederick.

"When the trash is not picked up for a week, it's a health risk," she said.

Mike Frasier also lives in Overland Park. He said his garbage was picked up two days late and after a week his recycling bin still sits full.

"Deffenbaugh said, 'We're working on it.' And that's it. There's no definitive answer," he said.

But 41 Action News went to Deffenbaugh headquarters and received and answer.

"We sincerely apologize for the problems customers are experiencing. That doesn't meet our service levels and we know it doesn't meet the customers' service levels either," said Paul Howe, Deffenbaugh senior district manager.

"We understand the level of service they've had thus far is not adequate, not up to our standards, and we're going to get it fixed," he said.

While some wonder if Waste Management Inc.'s purchase of Deffenbaugh last year affected the company's service, Howe said the issue has been with a declining number of truck drivers in the work force.

"We held a job fair in June and we have 13 people in various stages of training from that job fair right now ...  we've raised the pay rates. We've provided better benefits. Really we just believe it's coming to that culmination of a shortage of the workforce interested in driving trucks," he said.

However, the question is whether or not customers will be patient enough to wait around until Deffenbaugh replenishes their workforce. Unlike some cities, Overland Park does not have an exclusive contact with the garbage company, but rather leave service up to the homeowner's discretion.

For Fraser, Who just started using Deffenbaugh for the first time, it's not a good impression.

"Do what you're expected to do. What you pay to perform," he said.

Overland Park City Council is scheduled to talk about the trash pickup issues on Wednesday, Aug. 3. 

Prairie Village to hold trash bidding process

City leaders across the metro are also growing frustrated with Deffenbaugh. In fact, for the first time in 14 years, Prairie Village will open up the bidding process to other trash service providers.

Wes Jordan, assistant city administrator, says the city has been in a contract with Deffenbaugh since 2002. He says the reason the city hasn’t opened up the bid is because Deffenbaugh threatened to raise their prices. He said in 2002 Deffenbaugh followed through on the threat and came in at a higher cost, but because Deffenbaugh was still the lowest bidder, the city wound up paying more for the same service.

Jordan says the bidding process has already taken place. On Thursday, the city will inform the public of their final decision. Jordan says, this time around, instead of choosing the provider with the lowest cost, the city will make their decision based off both cost and the quality of the service provided.

Kansas City, Kansas, is also under contract with Deffenbaugh. It’s not set to expire until 2033. While KCK has also received its share of complaints about Deffenbaugh, a representative says Deffenbaugh has been quick to respond and correct the issues in the area.

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Josh Helmuth can be reached at josh.helmuth@kshb.com

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Jessica McMaster can be reached at jessica.mcmaster@kshb.com

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