Trash-service ownership change puzzles residents
Confusion ensued as city residents received and reviewed their quarterly garbage-hauling invoices this month and wondered why they saw not a Veolia logo, but that of Advanced Disposal.
Customers called the city to ask, "Who is this company and why weren't we notified of changes?"
City Engineer Kristy Treichel confirms that people also want to know if any aspects of their garbage service will be different.
She said the city has had limited information about the acquisition and how it might affect people locally.
A number of different sources confirm that just before Thanksgiving, Florida-based Advanced Disposal Services, Inc., and High Start Capital Investment Group bought Veolia ES Solid Waste, LLC -- the company's U.S.-based solid-waste operation.
Publications, such as "Waste Business Journal," a Veolia press release, and "Waste360.com" tell about the acquisition.
AD's Area Manager out of St. Paul, David Schneider, explained via email last week about the sale: "This was done via stock-purchase agreement."
Veolia is based in Paris, France, and was looking to divest assets in order to cut debt.
The company said in a press release that it will continue to grow the hazardous waste and industrial services portions of its U.S.-based business.
The acquisition makes Advanced Disposal the largest privately owned solid-waste disposal in America.
The Journal began inquiring after seeing a letter posted to the city's website from Advanced Disposal CEO Charlie Appleby that begins, "Welcome to your new solid waste services company -- Advanced Disposal..."
Treichel said she understood that River Falls customers would receive notification in November or December, but local customers are billed quarterly -- now on a cycle of receiving invoices in January, April, July and October.
They didn't receive notification about the change in with their January bills. Treichel said customers who were signed up to pay bills online received a notification letter via email, which is how the city first obtained the document for its website.
The letter says to customers: "While the company name who services your waste and recycling needs has changed, rest assured that your contracts are still valid, your service levels and schedules will remain the same, your drivers and sales representatives are still there to serve you, and the combined Veolia/Advanced Disposal team is committed to continuing to provide the quality service on which you depend.
"The transition will be seamless to you with the exception of future logo changes on your invoices and company communications, advanced Disposal branded collection vehicles and containers and a redirect to the Advanced Disposal website for service inquiries, contact information, operating locations and the like. Please know that you will still be able to pay your bill online just as you have in the past from the company's website: www.advanceddisposal.com."
Schneider confirms in his message that the only changes customers will see is a name and logo change on their invoices, the truck drivers' uniforms and the trucks. He also says personnel, addresses, phone numbers and days of service remain the same.
He said River Falls' contracts have a few unique components, quarterly invoices among them.
"It was an unintentional oversight caused by the quarterly billing required by River Falls' contract," Schneider's email said. "Most municipal contracts are billed monthly in the area and are a direct bill to the city, not individual residents."
He said the oversight resulted from a combination of these two special stipulations.
Schneider said after the city informed AD of the issue, the company sent a "telephone blast" message and began drafting a newspaper advertisement.
The AD Area Manager said people will see workers in different uniforms as soon as February. Residents will keep the same garbage and recycling receptacles they have now, but they will eventually have a new decal, as will AD's hauling trucks.
Schneider said people would probably see the decals change during a rebranding effort the company has tentatively scheduled for April.