Top 10 Dumpster Rental Hidden Fees

Dumpster rentals might seem straightforward—you just have a dumpster delivered and picked up, right? But dumpsters aren’t a one-size-fits-all service. And when you’re gathering quotes, you might be surprised at the wide range of prices quoted to you. If you look up the national average cost for dumpster rentals, it may seem low compared to rates you’ll hear from vendors in your area. That’s because rates and fees vary dramatically from region to region. While some websites claim dumpster rental fees are anywhere from $200 to $900, you’ll quickly find out those “low prices” probably come with dumpster rental hidden fees.

Why is there such a difference in rates? Most often it’s because there are local and regional fees many haulers don’t tell you about in the initial quote. These dumpster rental “hidden” fees can add significant charges to your final invoice. And you may not know they’re coming.

How much more could you be paying on your final invoice? Sometimes as high as double the original estimate. A company may have a low initial quote, then tack on fees for “additional services” that are actually required to use the dumpster rental. If you’re shopping for dumpster rental services, these are 10 of the most common “hidden” fees that drive up the price of your service.

1. Environmental or fuel surcharges

It makes sense to charge for fuel, right? After all, it costs money to buy the fuel to deliver the dumpster to your location. Many companies will charge an additional 5-8% or more to cover this cost. But some companies have been known to charge up to 35% extra as “fuel and environmental” fees! Fuel and environmental fees should be clearly stated in the estimate. If you don’t see an environmental or fuel charge on the initial quote, ask for their rate. Keep in mind some companies may only add this charge if the location is outside a specific service radius.

2. Taxes

We all know we’re going to pay taxes on most items, but would you know to expect dumpster rental taxes if it wasn’t included in your quote? When gathering estimates from different companies, ask them how taxes are handled. State and local tax rates can add as much as 13.25% to a bill, or even more in some areas. While you can’t avoid taxes, you can avoid this “hidden” fee. Be sure to ask if tax is included or what the tax rate will be for your dumpster rental.

3. Trip distance fees

This fee is usually charged for one of two reasons. Either the location was farther than anticipated in the original quote, or the job site is far from the main road or difficult to access. In both cases, you’ll likely see a trip distance fee added. Are you in a rural area? In most cases you’re going to see mileage fee, so be sure to ask about that. And if there are obstacles that prevent the driver from delivering the dumpster, you may still have to pay for the mileage. Avoid this fee by being open about the distance and road availability. And ensure there is enough room for the delivery truck once the dumpster arrives.

4. Pick-up fee

A pick-up fee is usually standard and openly quoted when you rent a dumpster. But what about early or late pick-ups? Or what if you need service outside the normal delivery and pick-up schedule? Sometimes it happens! If things change during your job and you end up needing early, late or more frequent dumpster service, don’t be surprised to see a fee on your final invoice.

5. Damage waiver fees

A damage waiver fee protects you from any costs associated with dumpster rental damage or lost time. These waivers have a limit, such as $500 of damage, but it can be an important type of protection when renting a dumpster. Whether you find it useful or not, you need to know ahead of time if this is a required cost. Be sure to ask if you don’t see it in your estimate.

6. Concrete fees

Ever wondered why haulers ask what kind of debris you’re throwing out when you rent a dumpster? Different materials have to be disposed of differently. It generally costs more to dump concrete, for example, so if you’ll be using your dumpster for concrete disposal, you can expect to pay a higher price. Be sure any special materials charges are noted in your quote. You’ll get charged for things like concrete disposal even if you failed to tell the hauler about it in advance.

7. Insurance coverage

You may or may not want dumpster rental insurance, but some haulers require it. If insurance isn’t mentioned at the outset of your rental agreement, be sure to ask about it. If you don’t, you may be surprised to find that line item on your final invoice. Always ask for upfront pricing, especially on insurance, so you clearly understand what you’ll be paying.

8. Seasonal fees

Certain times of the year cause fluctuations in price. For example, what if you live in an area where winter weather is harsh? you may pay a premium for delivery and service during winter months. This generally comes up in the quoting process, but double check any fees related to extreme weather conditions.

9. Excess tonnage

When you’re looking for a dumpster rental, you’ll need to estimate how much you expect to dump. Some rentals come with a set amount of tonnage included. If you suspect you could go over the included limit, be sure to ask how much excess tonnage will cost. Otherwise, if you exceed the agreed upon amount, you will definitely end up with an excess tonnage fee. A good waste broker will be able to help you estimate tonnage if you’re not sure.

10. Human error

Dumpster rental companies are run by humans, and humans can make mistakes. Maybe the wrong rate was entered, or an extra delivery fee was mistakenly tacked on. After delivery, check your invoices carefully, and ask about any fee that wasn’t included in your quote. In some cases, the fee may be human error. Don’t be afraid to call and ask about any unfamiliar charge.

At ZTERS, we know the questions to ask to avoid dumpster rental hidden fees. We’ve brokered thousands of dumpster deliveries and construction site service rentals nationwide for more than a decade. And we negotiate on your behalf, so you receive upfront pricing and no unexpected “hidden” dumpster rental fees. Give us a call today and let us help find the right dumpster rental for your specific project.

waste advice from ZTERS

Ask Angela: How to clean up after a storm, fire, or disaster

Angela Phillips is a Senior Account Manager III at ZTERS Site Solutions. She helps customers with some of their most challenging site service issues, and she answers your questions here on our website.

Angela, we’ve been watching news coverage of weather and flooding and wondering about the process of cleaning up after a storm. Can a waste services company come in and clean everything up, or does the city help, or are we on our own as homeowners? Thanks in advance.

Angela: This is a really great question. We all hope no one ever has to rebuild their home—whether it’s from a storm, a tornado, a fire, or even a flood like we’ve experienced in our hometown of Houston—but, the fact is, it does happen. And as a homeowner, you may not know your options.

First of all, when you have catastrophic damage, there’s a good chance you’ll have to wait a couple of weeks before you can start removing debris at all. If you had a house fire, most cities will have you wait a few weeks before that debris can go to a landfill. If it’s a large-scale catastrophe, like a flood, it might take a couple of weeks for an appropriate location to be chosen to receive all that debris.

Now comes the question of what you can do. Unfortunately, as a homeowner you’re kind of on your own for removing debris. Most people hire a general contractor to manage the process, and that company may or may not work directly with your insurance company to get that removal paid for.

Some people go out on their own and try to manage the process themselves. That’s totally up to you, and we have worked directly with homeowners before. Just know most haulers and waste service companies won’t deal directly with insurance companies. It’ll be up to you to know your insurance coverage and sort out payment on your own.

Sometimes people think FEMA will come in and clean up after a catastrophe, but they don’t clear private property. We actually wrote a blog post about storm debris dumpster rentals, so you can check that out for details.

It’s a good idea if you live in an area that’s prone to events like flooding, tornadoes, and extreme weather, to get some kind of game plan in mind in case you ever need to rebuild. Educate yourself on what licensed contractors do and what your home insurance covers. Hopefully it’s information you’ll never need, but the aftermath of an event isn’t the best time to figure out how rebuilding works.

If you decide you want to do it yourself and be your own contractor, keep in mind dumpsters and portable toilets will probably be in short supply after a major event. Prices will go up because haulers may need to borrow units from other areas and ship them in—and that’s going to add to the expense. Expect delays in deliveries and services, but know most dumpster and portable toilet companies are small operations and will work to accommodate everyone in a fair and timely manner.

At ZTERS, we do help people find dumpsters and portable toilets after catastrophic events. Usually we get calls from contractors, but we’re glad to help individuals, too. One thing we always tell people, though, is be sure you understand your insurance policy coverage. Haulers and portable toilet vendors—whether you go through a company like ZTERS or not—aren’t going to bill an insurance company. They’ll bill you or your contractor. So, make sure you know how your coverage works before you set out to DIY.

Photo of storm debris

Storm Debris Dumpster Rentals Explained

When Hurricane Harvey hit our hometown of Houston, flooding was the immediate concern. But when the floodwaters receded, homeowners were left to clean up the massive amount of storm debris on their property. That led to giant piles of soaked building materials, tree limbs and other debris in the front yards of many homes. Everything from appliances to carpeting to home interiors had to be thrown out, and people were left wondering about renting dumpsters for storm debris. City officials estimated hauling away eight million cubic yards of debris after the storm.

What often surprises homeowners after catastrophic events is the fact that private property debris isn’t part of what emergency crews help with. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) removes debris that poses an immediate risk to public health or is on public property. But in most cases, storm damage on personal property doesn’t qualify.

So, is renting a dumpster for storm debris the right option, or do you have alternatives to consider? Here’s a closer look at what you need to know about post-storm debris.

Check with your city

Each city has its own process for dealing with storm debris. For large-scale events, like hurricanes or tornadoes, you’ll find information posted online or through news reports to indicate the next steps for debris removal.

A special debris collection area will usually be established in the days after the storm. Once that happens, the city or county will provide instructions on when and what types of debris will be accepted. In some cases, the city will pick up neighborhood debris in stages over time. This could lead to debris sitting on your property for a longer period of time, but if you have minimal damage you most likely won’t need to rent a dumpster.

If your city’s disposal service offers curbside pickup, reach out to find out where you should place your storm debris. You can also look for any special instructions in news reports or on the city or county’s website. Follow the directions provided by your garbage collection agency, and you’ll get the most efficient debris pickup service.

Consider safety

Before you rent a dumpster for storm debris, consider the safety issues the storm created. Just because you’re able to access your property doesn’t mean there are clear paths for city workers—or dumpster haulers—to reach you with large trucks.

Dumpster rental companies and curbside collection services will have to wait until roads are clear before they can deliver dumpsters or pick up debris, so have patience. It’s natural to want to start working immediately, but sometimes road conditions may be unstable or unsafe for days or weeks after the event. In these cases, wait to deal with the debris until conditions settle.

Why rent a dumpster

If it was a large event, city-based services may take a long time to dispose of debris. Think months not weeks. Often, municipalities have limited capacity to handle the debris, such as limited manpower and truck capacity. If you want to clean up sooner, that’s where dumpsters for storm debris can be a solution. With a dumpster rental you can:

  • Sort and toss items at a time that works for you
  • Remove items like concrete that regular municipal garbage pickup may not accept
  • Dispose of large tree limbs, fence pieces, and even structural damage more easily
  • Schedule pickup at a time that works for you
  • Dispose of heavy and bulky items, like carpeting and sheet rock, that curbside pickup might not take immediately

When you rent a dumpster for storm debris, choose the largest size that can safely fit on your property. You will probably have large pieces of debris, so a larger unit will help ensure it all fits in one trip.

Storm debris dumpster pricing

As you shop for a dumpster rental service after a catastrophic event, be aware of pricing. Units will be in tight demand, and rates will definitely be higher than usual. But how high is too high?

After a storm, dumpsters and portable toilets are often trucked in from nearby states to meet demand. That’s going to add to the cost. However, you want to make sure you pay a fair price.

To protect yourself, work with trusted, reliable companies with a reputation for good customer service. ZTERS has been in business for a decade, and we’ve seen many storms and natural disasters. We work with thousands of vendors across the country, and we can tell you when price increases are justified and reasonable. We’ll give you honest answers to your questions about dumpster delivery and service after a storm.

No one wants to face rebuilding a destroyed home. As a Houston-based company, we know about the long road home from disaster. Give us a call if you have questions about dumpsters, temporary fencing or portable toilets for your home rebuild.