Odd Job co-owner responds and thanks customers for their support
By Jim Newell
Odd Job Disposal, Inc. is likely out of a job in Orion Twp. when their current license to operate within the township’s borders expires on March 31.
After that date, under township Ordinance 73, Odd Job will no longer be able to provide service to its Orion Twp. customers, unless the Orion Twp. Board of Trustees decides to renew the garbage company’s license at the March 18 board meeting.
It’s a move that seems unlikely, especially since the board had given Odd Job co-owners Aaron Walter and Tom Christensen until Feb. 25 to improve service to residents and come up with a plan to meet certain criteria discussed during a license revocation hearing at the board’s Jan. 7 meeting.
Odd Job’s service to its customers is an issue that has been talked about for months, with residents complaining that their trash and compost have not been picked up when it’s supposed to, sometimes sitting out on the curb for days or weeks at a time. They also have said that when they try to contact Odd Job, no one answers phone calls or emails or gets back to them.
That’s when unsatisfied customers began contacting Orion Twp. officials, complaining about the lack of service and mess in their neighborhoods.
The board at its meeting on Monday had scheduled Odd Job on the agenda to hear an update from the company’s owners, who were a no-show.
Orion Twp. Supervisor Chris Barnett said township officials have continued to receive complaints and that the township has tried to contact Odd Job numerous times, including hand delivering several letters via a process server.
“Honestly, we’ve received zero correspondence since Jan. 18 when (Walter and Christensen) were in our office,” Barnett said.
Odd Job did respond during the meeting on Monday. Jim Lenibach, a friend of the company’s owners did read into the record a letter from Odd Job, but Barnett noted that there were no signatures on the letter, nor letterhead identifying the letter as being from Odd Job.
The letter, reportedly from Odd Job, states:
“We wish we were able to be there tonight but we are, unfortunately, still at work.
“Since we last met, we have taken steps to right-size the business by tightening our borders, we have been processing refunds for the people who have decided to find other service, and have been diligently working on getting a better system for calls and emails.”
The letter goes on to state that Odd Job cannot afford a call center to take residents’ calls; that the “weather has made it impossible to operate as normal”; and that they had been informed that they must pick up garbage and recycling on scheduled days.
“This means we would be forced to push back some of our customers for several weeks at a time,” the letter states. “We question, are the other companies that service Lake Orion also being penalized for not picking up on the same days of inclement weather?”
Barnett told The Lake Orion Review that the township has not issued any citations or fines to Odd Job, and that he received an email from Aaron Walter at 9:30 p.m. Monday in which Walter indicates that Odd Job will be sending in the paperwork for renewing their license to operate in Orion Twp.
The Review did try to contact Odd Job for comment but did not receive an answer by press time on Tuesday.
Odd Job co-owner Aaron Walter contacted The Review on Wednesday and said the company is working hard to turn things around and appreciates it’s customers loyalty while the company works to rectify its problems.
Regarding the letter read at the board meeting, Walter said, “It came out the wrong way. It was meant to express that we feel the township is making it very difficult to renew our license.”
Walter said Odd Job does intend to renew it’s license to operate in Orion Twp. and he will “probably” attend the next board meeting on March 18.
Regarding service to Odd Job’s customers, Walter said they are working on improving timely garbage and recycling pick ups, answering customers’ calls and emails and processing refunds.
“|We’ve been trying to proactively solve the problems. We’ve added people to the office to help alleviate those calls, but the sheer volume of calls is high,” Walter said, adding that customers should email the company at firstname.lastname@example.org for the fastest response.
“We have a person dedicated to answering emails,” he said.
Odd Job’s efforts to catch up on trash pickups did hit another snag with the winter storms and icy roads, Walter said.
“We were right on track and starting to gain some ground when the weather set us back,” Walter said, adding that Odd Job spent $5,000 to have several trucks towed out of ditches during the inclement weather.
Walter also said that the company is processing refunds for people who want to discontinue their service.
“We’re processing refunds as quickly as we can, but we can’t give everyone a refund right away. We want to stay in business,” Walter said.
Trustee Brian Birney, who is a local business owner, said he has received several complaints from residents and has assured them that the township is trying to rectify the problems.
Birney took exception to Odd Job’s claim that the township has treated them unfairly.
“I have to make a comment on what was said in that letter. The public probably has no clue the amount of calls, texts, emails, meetings, complaints that have gone into township hall (and) probably every single person siting here. Now, that’s our job, we get that.
“This is the icing on the incompetent cake for me,” Birney said. “This is absolutely ridiculous. We’ve extended our hand and tried to help at the last meeting, giving free pointers, giving free advice, saying this is what you should do, this is what you shouldn’t do. And that was with open arms, I thought. And now, to get something like this at the 11th hour when we’ve sent out numerous communications…
“For this (letter) to come back and for them to say we’re mistreating them is total garbage,” Birney said. “I’m frustrated by the situation. I thought we were coming to a better conclusion than this.”
Under township Ordinance 73, Solid Waste & Recyclable Materials Collection Regulation, the township could refuse to grant a garbage hauler’s application “for any just cause, or when in its judgment, the public health, safety and welfare of the inhabitants of the Township so require.”
Odd Job has had several people at township board meetings and in the Lake Orion Chat Room come to their defense, but the support seems to have dwindled over the past few weeks. Most comments urged the township to give a locally-owned business another chance.
At its Jan. 7 meeting, the board held a hearing to consider revoking Odd Job’s license to operate in the township, with Odd Job co-owner Aaron Walter representing the garbage company. The board voted unanimously to give Odd Job another chance, with conditions to meet:
• The township wants to know how many customers Odd Job has in Orion Township? Walter estimated that Odd Job has 6,000 customers in the township but couldn’t give an exact number.
• Odd Job needs to develop a strategy for conveying information to customers when the company is going to be late picking up trash and compost.
• Odd Job needs to pick up trash, recycling and yard waste when scheduled.
• There needs to be a “specific point person” who the township and residents can call if there is a problem and get answers.
Barnett also asked for some guarantee for residents who had prepaid for a year’s service that they would be refunded if they canceled their service with Odd Job and wants a written policy given to the township to put on record.
Walter said people would get a refund check but would have to contact or go to the Odd Job office to do so.
Township Clerk Penny Shults said her office has received more than 100 complaints from residents about Odd Job’s lack of service.
Shults said she and her husband had been Odd Job customers until a month ago when they made the decision to switch companies.
And for residents who have prepaid for disposal service and now want a refund from Odd Job, board members said the township has no authority to compel a company to issue a refund.
“We can’t get your refunds…that’s a private contract between you and your garbage company,” Barnett said.
Orion Township did hire Resource Recycling Services in February to look at Ordinance 73 and recommend updates. “We are getting all the information together to provide a long-term solution to our residents,” Barnett said.