7 On Your Side helps woman get garbage bill fixed

July 27, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
No one should have to pay for a service they're not getting. But a San Jose family has been doing that for years. The dispute is over a garbage bill. It seemed like a simple matter, but unwinding something that's been going on for so long proved to be anything but simple.

Linda Fraasch enjoys her time in the garden. Tucked away in the corner of her small yard are two trash cans. The black is garbage, the blue one is for recyclables. Missing is a yellow can for yard waste.

"We never had a yellow can," Fraasch said. "We never had a green can. No one in this complex has ever had a yellow can."

Any yard waste she generates is left on the curb and picked up by the homeowner's association.

Yet, she recently discovered that her family has been paying for a yellow can they never had. Her late mother suffered from the early stages of Alzheimer's. Fraasch suspects the billing dates back to that period more than five years ago when mom was paying the bills, "It's a point of the thing being billed for something you never had."

She called the garbage company. But when the next bill arrived, the charge was still on there. Fraasch says she simply crossed it out and requested the company credit the charge back to her, "So, two months later I get billed for the yellow waste can plus a penalty charge for the amount I didn't pay."

So, once again, she phoned the garbage company, "She said, ok, we'll send somebody over there to take a look at the can and I'm going what? It's a non-existent can!"

That's when she decided to call 7 On Your Side. We took her concerns to the City of San Jose, and the city immediately called Linda, "Ah, yeah. It was a relief. It was a relief," she said.

City regulations call for San Jose to only credit her back to the date when the mistake was discovered. But the city took it a step further, giving her three years worth of credit, a total of $155.

"I'm on a fixed income," Fraasch said. "That $155 is a lot of meals for me."

The City of San Jose declined to go on camera, but by phone said, "In our minds the customer is happy and we're all happy. The issue is resolved. This is an unusual circumstance. When we looked into it, it was clear to us we needed to clear her account."

Fraasch agreed, exclaiming, "Thank you, thank you!"


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