By Jim Newell
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s Corporate Oversight Division is laying the groundwork for a possible class action lawsuit against now-defunct Odd Job Disposal, Inc.
“We have seen a pattern of behavior from this company that is totally unacceptable: they knew they were closing, but continued to bill customers for their services anyway – and are now failing to make refunds to those customers who had either canceled their service or are no longer getting service because of Odd Job’s closure,” Nessel said in a June 10 press release.
For months, customers of the Oxford-based company had complained that Odd Job was not picking up their garbage, recycling and yard waste, instead leaving the refuse curbside for weeks, or even months, at a time.
And when residents contacted Odd Job to complain, they never got a response.
Area residents then began submitting formal complaints against the embattled garbage hauler. The attorney general’s office initially received three complaints — two from Orion Township residents and one from a Leonard resident.
“Two of the complaints alleged their contracted services weren’t rendered and the other is for failure to refund the consumer after the company no longer serviced their area,” said Kelly Rossman-McKinney, communications director with Nessel’s office.
Orion Township resident Edward Zioncheck was the first to file a complaint with the attorney general’s office.
“I have filed a complaint with the attorney general’s office. They advised me that anyone who has not received a refund from Odd Job to file your own individual complaint,” Zioncheck said.
Nessel said her office seeks “to protect the interests of consumers against Odd Job Disposal. Inc and its owners, Aaron Walter and Thomas Christensen. The Oakland County-based waste-hauling company closed its doors this spring, leaving nearly 13,000 customers in the lurch.”
The attorney general’s office issued a notice of intended action May 17 to Christensen and Walter, followed by a request for investigative subpoenas from Oakland County’s 6th Circuit Court, according to the attorney general’s office.
“The purpose of the investigation is to gain additional information about the scope and extent of the suspected violations of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act and to gain prompt insights and documentation regarding the assets so that any necessary precautions can be taken to guard against the diversion of proceeds from any sale of those assets,” Nessel said.
Zioncheck’s problems – late or missed garbage pickups – with Odd Job began around November 2018, he said.
The Orion Township Board of Trustees voted in March not to renew Odd Job’s permit to conduct waste hauling services in the township.
But after Odd Job completely stopped picking up trash in Orion Township in the third week of March, Zioncheck said he had had enough. Under Odd Job’s permit with Orion Township, the company could still collect refuse until March 31, 2019.
“They stopped picking up even though they still had until the end of the month and we had paid for the service,” Zioncheck said. “That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Zioncheck received a letter dated June 4 from Joseph E. Potchen, division chief of the Corporate Oversight Division, saying the division had received more than 100 complaints against Odd Job, and had notified Odd Job of the intention of filing a lawsuit.
“We have also opened a formal investigation under which we have issued subpoenas aimed at learning more about the company’s assets. While we cannot make any promises about what lies ahead, please know that our strategy is aimed at trying to help consumers negatively impacted by Odd Job’s conduct,” Potchen wrote.
“In addition to Odd Job Disposal co-owners Christensen and Walter, investigative testimony is being sought from Jessica Christensen and James Leinbach, who identified himself a friend of Walter’s while representing the company at an Orion Township Board meeting in March. The subpoenas were served on Odd Job Disposal and its owners during the week of June 3-7,” Nessel said. “While we do not know yet what refunds are due nor do we know the extent or value of available assets, our goal is to preserve as much information as possible to protect Michigan residents.”
Zioncheck had been a longtime Odd Job customer and supported the company, initially, when they went before the Orion Township Board of Trustees in January, urging board members to give Odd Job co-owner Aaron Walter another chance.
“We had been with them since 2012 and never had a problem,” he said.
Zioncheck said he hopes that the attorney general’s investigation into Odd Job’s assets yields some sort of refund for the affected customers.
“I think that they’re looking into the nature of their assets,” he said. “The think I would like to know is where would the residents stand in order of getting a refund.”