Walnut Grove-area woman goes week without trash pickup
Kate Walters says her garbage disposal company “ghosted” her.
Still, she’s not really mad at it.
I visited her outside of Walnut Grove last week and saw her pile of trash.
In addition to being off duty for three weeks, she also paid three months in advance, a total of $ 56, when she had to hire a new carrier.
“We just want to know what’s going on. We understand this is a tough time.”
Did that have anything to do with the pandemic? She asks.
“I would understand if they are understaffed.”
Instead, she heard next to nothing from the company.
After repeated phone calls and emails to WCA, she informed me that she only had one call back that evening from someone at WCA who she believed was called “Austin” – the voice message was difficult to understand – and within Called back five minutes.
Nobody answered and what was especially frustrating was that there was no way to leave a message.
This column was due to appear on Wednesday June 10th when I received a response from someone at the WCA minutes before the deadline.
The district manager called. He told me Walters had received a refund.
His call came after making multiple calls and two trips to the WCA’s Springfield offices.
Walters, 36, had asked me, the respondent, to speak to someone at the company – something she and her husband couldn’t.
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COVID-19 had something to do with it
In the interests of full disclosure, I find it hard to see a company too hard for poor customer service when working at the News Leader. We’re not a role model for customer service based on the complaints we hear in the newsroom from people with billing or delivery issues.
I confirm this so that you don’t have to call me or send me emails calling me a hypocrite.
WCA is a national company with headquarters in Houston, Texas and local offices at 2120 W. Bennett St. and across the street at 2211 W. Bennett St.
The district manager is Randy Thompson, who called on Tuesday.
When the pandemic hit, WCA ordered all customer service reps to work from home. The company supplied them with computers and Wi-Fi hotspot devices.
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Thompson oversees a Springfield call center serving WCA customers in Springfield, Joplin, Lebanon, Heartland, Rolla, and Arcadia, Kansas.
“We don’t answer the phone as well as we did before COVID,” he says.
He also said, “We’re not trying to ghost anyone.”
Thompson tells me that part of the lack of communication problem lies with Walters.
He says his staff told him they tried to call her and couldn’t leave a message because the message box was full.
In response, I gave Thompson my contact information for Walters, including her phone number.
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He called back and said that was not the number the company had on the account. They had her husband’s number, Chuck. The account is under his name, so it was his phone that couldn’t take voicemail, Thompson says.
Kate Walters shared the email the company sent her Tuesday at 3:11 p.m. – about 30 minutes after visiting the local WCA office for the second time in a week.
The email said: “We tried to contact you at the number given in the account. However, due to the full mailbox, we were unable to leave voice messages.
“We apologize for any trouble reaching a customer service representative to assist you with your account. We will be happy to refund your final payment of $ 56.36.”
Kate Walters denies what WCA told her. She sent me this email:
“I can assure you that my husband’s voicemail was definitely not full. Just a total stretch on that excuse. It’s his work phone too, and he had voicemail from other people throughout this whole debacle up to this Saturday. Besides, they just had one Email us. Not what I’d call an honest attempt to communicate with us. So still no real responses on what happened, but at least we’ll get a refund! “
To get a fuller picture, I’m going to tell you about the coverage I did before I finally got a call from Thompson.
After talking to Walters last week, I went back to the office.
I quickly spotted an orange WCA trash can on a back street off Highway BB within Walnut Grove’s corporate boundaries. I knocked on the door and Heith Sartin is not only a satisfied WCA customer, but also a former driver for the company.
“You have always been good to me,” he says.
When was the last time you picked up your trash?
A little further on, I stopped at Walnut Grove City Hall, where I spoke to town clerk Eric Sutton. He was not aware of any recent complaints against WCA.
The next step was to contact the company. I found that almost impossible. I’ve called multiple times and been caught in a frustrating cycle of phone options.
I get a name and a phone number
When I drove to the local office on the north side of Bennett for the first time on June 8, I met a man who said he could not answer my question. But he took my name and number and said he would forward my request to someone who could.
I crossed the street to the other office, which has a maintenance yard and office. A sign on the door reads: “The office is closed to the public for security reasons. No exceptions!”
But it sounded like someone was in the garage and I found a man in an office.
I explained why I was there and he said he was in maintenance and couldn’t help me. But he gave me a name and number for someone who could. This person never called me back.
As I mentioned earlier, I returned to the office on Tuesday and spoke to the same person in the maintenance building. I left my card. Phillips called me back soon after.
As I was leaving the office on Tuesday, I ran into Jason Hiett from Ozark in the parking lot. He drove to the office because he was frustrated.
“I came here because I can’t get anyone to call me back,” he tells me. “I have a dumpster that I rented from them in my house and I have to remove it by the end of the week so I can drive in the moving truck.”
He tells me the company is not responding to calls and emails.
“I just want the damn thing off my property.”
Let these questions come. Send them to The Answer Man at 417-836-1253, [email protected], on Twitter @stevepokinNL, or by mail at 651 Boonville Ave., Springfield, MO 65806.