Getting answers to the complaints on LA's new trash collection program

If you have had issues with sanitation in LA keep this number handy. It's 1-800-773-2489. It's staffed 24/7.

Next week the 6 month rollout of LA's new garbage pickup program that focuses on recycling will end and, by then, all of the affected 70,000 customers in apartment complexes and businesses will be in a system operated by the city involving 7 trash companies covering 11 zones and a 40-million dollar plant for separating recycled materials.

To date, there have been 20,000 complaints of everything from missed pickups or lack of them.

"Those are very serious service related issues," says Dan Meyers who heads up the new RecycLA program that aims to meet a state mandate that requires California businesses to arrange for recycling services. It was a massive undertaking, but to some, like Stephanie Gonzalez, the rollout is nothing short of rubbish.

Gonzalez says, "They take long to come and get the trash...It smells really bad in the garage" and, the cost to business owners like Carlos Hernandez is more expensive! He says his monthly bill went from $111 to $312.

Hernandez adds, "It's more than double. I mean it's crazy."

We wanted answers and asked Dan Meyer why it's been so chaotic since the rollout started in July. He told us "it's been a difficult transition. But, much of that is just attributed to getting customers into the right places in terms of service and getting those customers service on a regular basis."

Strange as it sounds, Hernandez has three phone messages on his answering machine from his service company each 5 minutes apart. The first says his service day is Tuesday. The second announces his service day will be Wednesday. Then, a third says his service day will be Thursday.

We asked Meyers why so much confusion? He said, "I definitely get why that might cause confusion. I don't have the background on why those separate calls for made."

But, to some, it's another example of a poor rollout.

We asked Meyers why couldn't this be a smoother rollout? His response? "It's just a very tough process. It's a tough process because there's no other way than just to start working with customers…" That helps in learning where the potholes are.

Meanwhile, Meyers says that "beginning February 1st the city has the ability to levy liquidated damages against our service providers for not providing every contract term in the contract," and will for such things as missed collections, multiple missed collections, not providing service on time and discourteous behavior to customers.

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