DEARBORN HEIGHTS — For weeks, GFL, the city’s contract waste hauler, has been receiving negative feedback and now Mayor Bill Bazzi is telling them to get it right, or else.
Over the last few weeks residents have taken to social media and City Council meetings to report missed pick-ups and poor customer service from GFL and even some instances where yard waste sat for nearly a week before being collected.
While GFL’s management has, in response, blamed the recent issues on its inability to maintain adequate staffing levels affecting multiple municipal customers throughout Southeast Michigan, Bazzi said enough is enough.
“I respect the position they are in regarding staffing shortages,” he said. “But the service we are receiving is just unacceptable for our residents. Part of the hard-earned dollars they pay in taxes is spent with the expectation that they will have a dependable and thorough waste removal service. Based on the many complaints we have received — especially recently — the quality service we were promised back when this contract was being negotiated is simply not happening.”
Bazzi and City Attorney Gary Miotke notified GFL last week via certified mail and e-mail that, “…the city considers your company to be in and to continue to be in breach of the contract that it has with the city”, citing its, “…failure to timely provide services as required with respect to residential solid waste, autoside collection and disposal, yard waste curbside collection and disposal, and alongside recycling.”
“Our residents need to know I am taking this problem very seriously,” Bazzi said. “We cannot and will not tolerate the poor service we have experienced, and I am ready to pursue any and all options available to us, including the possibility of cancelling this contract (based on their default) and securing the service through another vendor. If this organization wants to maintain their service with Dearborn Heights, they need to adjust their operational and customer service methodologies to clearly demonstrate that our community — and indeed our tax-paying residents — are a priority for them.”
Our residents will get the level of service they expect and deserve, no matter what we need to do – Mayor Bill Bazzi
During the June 22 City Council meeting, GFL General Manager Sam Caramagno offered his apologies and advised that the company is taking corrective measures, including offering increased wages and other hiring initiatives, authorizing extended Saturday hours for collecting, pulling staff from other locations to help supplement the Dearborn Heights crews, staffing changes in the company’s customer service operations and providing additional outreach, informational and educational resources to customers.
To more closely monitor the quality and accountability of GFL’s service, Bazzi has authorized the creation of a new tracking mechanism that will be managed through the Department of Public Works.
“We will be watching this one closely over the coming weeks and months,” he said. “In short, we must see measurable improvements in the quality of the work we are receiving. We are absolutely not going to let this slide unaddressed and let our residents continue holding the bag for inadequate service. That may have been the way things worked in the past, but no more. Our residents will get the level of service they expect and deserve, no matter what we need to do.”