Transparency in Pricing

At Zters we pride ourselves on the transparency of 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 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 4 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.

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. If fuel prices go up, the cost of a dumpster goes up and if the fuel prices go down, so do the customer’s cost. The reality is, the fees are potentially arbitrary and rarely if ever, go down.

WCA Waste Corporation was recently sued precisely because their fees appeared arbitrary. The plaintiffs, representatives in a class action lawsuit, argue 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 does not dispute (the link has been removed) that the fees are not intended to tie the expense of service to the customer’s cost. WCA’s website states 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 is to ensure they make sufficient profit.

On June 13, a Federal Court listened to arguments on whether a class action settlement, obligating WCA Waste Corporation to pay $5,250,000 to class participants, should be approved. Soon, if the settlement agreement is approved, thousands of WCA customers will 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 is somewhat arbitrary. Customers who spend the time to file a claim will be reimbursed pro-rata (proportional to the number/value of claims filed). If many people file, the reimbursement will be small. If a few people file, the reimbursement could be large. A careful customer would ask “how much am I going to be reimbursed.” However, nobody will be able to answer.

At Zters Waste Value, 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 directly 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: Rental, Disposal Fees, Pick-up, Delivery, and of course Taxes. 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.