City of Jacksonville Sending Letter to GFL Over Alleged Failures with Customer Service

By Benjamin Cox on March 29, 2023 at 9:22am

The City of Jacksonville is sending a legal letter to GFL Environmental asking them to start sticking to their exclusive contract.

A concerned citizen voiced problem Monday night at the Jacksonville City Council meeting that GFL has not removed a trash receptacle from their house after the opted out of their residential trash service. The resident said they had also received a bill from the company after they had never used its service and opted out back in January. City Clerk Skip Bradshaw said that it’s a common problem that he’s dealt with from citizens and GFL for the past 3 months. Bradshaw says one resident even went so far as to bring their trash bin to the municipal building because they no longer wanted it on their property.

Ward 2 Alderwoman Lori Large-Oldenettel expressed concern about customer service with the company after she was placed on hold for over 20 minutes on Monday afternoon and still was never able to get through to a representative to talk about a constituent issue. Bradshaw says he’s experienced the same problem with the phone number on the company’s website. Ward 2 Alderwoman Alison Rubin de Celis says she believes it’s a spoof number because all the calls are re-routed to a call center in Peoria and then, put into an automated system. Several of the aldermen agreed a direct line with a person handling Jacksonville and Morgan County’s trash service should exist.

Mayor Pro Tem Don Cook says he sees people are in the office out on the Route 104 drop off site but they refuse to answer the door. He says that the office was closed to the public since February 1st. In emails obtained by WLDS News during negotiations between the Village of South Jacksonville and GFL, GFL Manager of Government Contracts Eric Shangraw says the offices at the drop-off site were closed to foot traffic due to security reasons. The email communication also says that the recycling bins for the county were removed at that time because “users were dumping straight trash/food waste in the recycling dumpsters.” South Jacksonville opted instead to leave trash service up to local residents instead of signing an exclusive contract.

The city council unanimously approved City Attorney Dan Beard sending a letter to GFL requesting that they start adhering to the agreements in their residential contract. Beard says the city has advised him to bring the issues to GFL from a legal standpoint: “At this point the city is directing me to write to them, I think, voicing again some of the issues that have been here and approaching it more from a legal standpoint that you need to take care of these things one way or another. It’s not really a situation where we want to go line by line in the contract and find out what they may have done wrong, rather indicate that we’re not getting the responses that we need and however it needs to be done, somebody needs to get in touch with the city, have someone available by phone and for the city residents to call, and to take care of the lingering issues of picking up the containers from properties that have opted out or never were in the program.”

Anonymous sources have told WLDS News that GFL has been unhappy with the city when it came to the number of residential customers in their contract. When asked about the contract and the city’s dealings with GFL, Beard says it’s the first he’s heard of the company’s displeasure in dealing with the city: “Thjat’s the first that I’ve heard that GFL is not happy with the city. If that in any way is the reason that they are not being responsive, that could lead to major issues whether it’s litigation or not but it could lead to major issues.”

Despite the lingering issues, City Clerk Skip Bradshaw says Jacksonville water customers will be receiving a flyer with their water bill soon about the Spring citywide clean up. More information on the clean up date will be released at a later date. Bradshaw says it is a part of the city’s contract to have a clean-up day in both the Spring and Fall.

A voicemail and email left with GFL’s Eric Shangraw asking for the company’s position on the lingering issues in Jacksonville has not been returned as of press time.