When we launched ZTERS in 2009, we set out to change the waste and construction site service industry. We pride ourselves on transparency in our pricing. Our customers should always know exactly what they are paying for and how we calculate those charges. However, not all companies share our desire for transparency.
In the waste and construction site services industry, many companies try to obscure the true cost of using their services. A salesperson might inform a new customer, “Your dumpster will be $350 for the first week. The price includes four tons of disposal fees, fuel and environmental fees, and applicable taxes.”
A careful customer would ask, “How much are the fuel and environmental fees?” The sales person would not be able to give an exact answer. (Here’s a breakdown of the most common hidden dumpster rental fees.)
The method of calculating fuel and environment fees is a black box, a proprietary formula, a trade secret. The salesperson will try to convince the customer that it is a method of directly tying the costs of providing service to the customer’s cost.
A salesperson might tell you if fuel prices go up, the cost of a dumpster goes up. If fuel prices go down, so does your cost. The reality is, the fees are potentially arbitrary and rarely if ever, go down.
Hidden or confusing fees were common in the dumpster rental industry. In one well-known example, WCA Waste Corporation was sued in 2016 precisely because their fees appeared arbitrary. The plaintiff’s representatives in a class action lawsuit argued that the fees are “arbitrary and unconnected to either the fuel or environmental costs associated with local waste disposal.”
Importantly, while disputing the plaintiff’s argument, WCA did not dispute that the fees are not intended to tie the expense of service to the customer’s cost. WCA’s website at the time stated that the fees are “intended to address the overall fuel costs and expenses incurred by WCA and its affiliates and to achieve an operating margin acceptable to WCA.” In simple terms, the only purpose of imposing fees is to ensure they make sufficient profit. (Note: WCA is now GFL Environmental.)
When the case was filed back in 2016, a Federal Court listened to arguments on whether a class action settlement would obligate WCA Waste Corporation to pay $5,250,000 to class participants. If approved, thousands of WCA customers would be eligible to claim a portion of the pool of money.
Like the fuel and environmental fees themselves, the division of the pool of money would be somewhat arbitrary. Customers who filed a claim would be reimbursed pro-rata (proportional to the number/value of claims filed). If many people filed, the reimbursement would be small. If a few people filed, the reimbursement could be large. A careful customer would ask, “How much would I be reimbursed?” However, nobody will be able to answer.
As you can see, things can get convoluted when dealing with hidden rental fees.
At ZTERS, we wanted to get away from those practices and introduce transparent pricing. Our motto is Fair. Simple. Reliable.
Fair: We want our customers to know that when they work with us, they will be quoted a price that clearly outlines what they are charged, and that price is tied to our costs.
Simple: Our customers do not need to consult a fuel and environmental fee table and cross-reference Department of Energy diesel price projections to find out what they will be spending. We break down our costs into easy to understand categories:
- Disposal Fees,
- Delivery, and of course
The costs are explained up front at the time of the order.
Reliable: we work with the best in the business to make sure that your business, home remodels, or job site receives the same excellent service this week, next week, and all the weeks that follow.
Fuel prices and environmental fees change over the years, but our commitment to transparent pricing doesn’t. If you ever have a question about your rental quote or invoice charges, your account manager is only a phone call or email away. That was our goal in 2009, and it continues to be our goal today.
This blog post was originally posted in 2017 and was updated in 2022.