QLDC promises rethink on rubbish bin contract
Don’t rush to sign up for Queenstown Lakes District Council’s new wheelie bin deal.
After Mountain Scene pointed out potential double-dipping, council lawyers are now rethinking the bin
contract residents have to sign.
From early this month, QLDC has called on Wakatipu households to “subscribe” for the new bins – at $200 a year you get a 140-litre red-top bin for general rubbish, with weekly collections from October.
But the fine print in the contract has fish-hooks.
If you leave town part-way through a 12-month hire, you don’t get any of that $200 back: “For the avoidance of doubt [QLDC] shall not be liable to refund any portion of the hire and service fees paid by the customer …”
Why not refund people for unused hire time?
“We’re getting the money upfront for a 12-month contract,” QLDC solid waste boss Stefan Borowy says.
Refunds would mean “we wouldn’t be able to manage our costs appropriately”.
If you move to another house in the district, you can take your bin with you – providing QLDC agrees – but people selling up to leave town can’t transfer bin contracts to incoming owners or tenants moving into their homes.
“This agreement is personal to the customer and shall not be assigned to any other party.”
And QLDC will re-hire returned bins to other households, charging them afresh for unused time already paid for by those leaving town?
Borowy: “Yeah, that’s about the size of it.”
That’s double-dipping, QLDC, it doesn’t seem fair. Wonder what Consumers Institute would make of that.
Borowy: “Um, I suppose in those cases we’d be able to deal with them on a case-by-case basis.”
Then the contract should say that, surely?
Borowy: “It’s something we could add, yeah.”
So you’ll get your lawyers on to it? “Absolutely.”
And cut out “for the avoidance of doubt … [no] refund”?
“We’ll get the lawyers to look at that as well.”
Then there’s another fish-hook – householders must pay for “damage” to wheelie bins “due to any cause whatsoever”.
Including damage from rough handling by rubbish collectors?
Borowy: “That won’t be the case.”
Then the contract should say that, shouldn’t it? “Yes, absolutely.”
And why can’t we buy bins outright and just pay a collection fee – why do we have to rent bins from QLDC?
There are “quite a number of problems” with that, Borowy says – but the main thing is rental bins are “easier to administer”.
The bins cost QLDC about $45 each, he admits, leaving a $155 margin in the first year for rubbish collections and profit – sorry, surplus, because councils aren’t allowed to make profits.