Stafford Sup calls for Virginia AG investigation into trash hauler GFL

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Stafford County leaders are tired of hearing complaints from residents who say they’re not being served by private trash haulter GFL.

The Canadian firm recently purchased multiple trash-hauling companies in the Fredericksburg region. Last year, after it purchased Spotsylvania-based County Waste, Stafford leaders were inundated with complaint phone calls and emails. Many residents said they could not reach the company to have questions answered or complain.

Holding up multiple reams of paper during a January 17, 2023 meeting, Rock Hill District Supervisor Crystal Vanuch said residents sent her and county staff enough emails to require more than 7,000 sheets of paper to print out, all about failures with the trash hauler.

According to Vanuch, the emails contain complaints about the company’s failure to return customers’ phone calls, failure to pick up trash as scheduled, and refusal to issue refunds promised to customers.

“We’ve received 255 phone calls. This is now becoming a Stafford County Government issue, using taxpayer money to address the issues of a private company,” said Vanuch. “We have to do something.”

Vanuch asked the county administrator and attorney to present actions the county government could take to resolve the issue at its next Board of Supervisors meeting on February 7, 2023. Vanuch asked the county administrator to consider asking Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares to investigate the company’s practices.

County leaders have been wrangling with service issues from the company since the Summer of 2022. Initially, the firm blamed the no-show trash service on route scheduling software.

In surrounding jurisdictions also experiencing similar issues with private trash haulers, supply chain and employee shortages were cited as the causes.

“When customers call to complain, and when no one answers and the phone ‘rolls over,’ they’re not getting people who understand Stafford County, and they’re not getting the answers they want,” said Falmouth District Supervisor Meg Bohmke, met with someone from GFL last year to discuss the ongoing issues.

“The problem is bigger than the local manager [here in Virginia,]” said Bohmke, who said the firm focused on solutions it provided in Connecticut, Florida, and Massachusetts markets. “I don’t care about those places. I care about the people here in Stafford County,” said Bohmke. “We have to get GFL’s attention in some other way.”

Several private companies provide trash service in Stafford County. Trucks roll out to homes, pick up roll-away trash bins, employ the garbage into trucks, and then haul it to a regional landfill on Eskimo Hill Road in Stafford County.

“I’m not opposed to having a conservation with GFL,” said Griffis-Widewater Supervisor Tinesha Allen. “Anyone come to [haul] trash in Stafford. It’s an open process. Anyone can file for a permit and become a trash collector.”

Allen called the company responsive to her and said she agreed to give the firm a grace period as it ramps up operations.

Stafford Sup calls for Virginia AG investigation into trash hauler GFL

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