Chula Vista Residents, City Leaders Frustrated With Republic Services' Refund Process

City Manager sends letter to sanitation company with several demands.

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The City of Chula Vista isn’t too happy with how Republic Services is handling business in the wake of a month-long sanitation strike that stranded garbage and recycle bins, and dumpsters around the town.

Social media is flooded with complaints about the sanitation company’s refund process. Now, Republic is facing one lawsuit from a San Diego resident and a potential lawsuit from Chula Vista.

“It’s been a disaster,” said Chula Vista City Councilwoman Jill Galvez.

NBC 7's Dave Summers explains what Chula Vista is asking from Republic Services in the wake of the trash collection strike.

Galvez said her social media blew up with people complaining about Republic’s refund process.

“Folks are spending two, three hours on the phone, escalating with supervisors, waiting for call-backs, and then finally getting a $5 bill credit -- $5 on a bill of $35-to-$56 a month,” she sighed. “Stop this nonsense of asking residents to call in and negotiate individual bill credits.”

Republic Services instructed customers to contact the company to inquire about refunds after Republic struggled to collect trash and recycle bins during a month-long strike by the Teamsters Local 542 drivers. The two sides settled on a new contract but that was after the city of Chula Vista paid its employees overtime to pick up the mess that was ignored for weeks at a time.

“We had to. We had no choice,” said Councilwoman Galvez.

Wednesday, Chula Vista City Manager Maria Kachadoorian sent a letter to the company making several demands including providing ratepayers credits on future bills and covering expenses incurred by the city during the strike.

Galvez said the city’s bill should be roughly $150,000.

“For some reason, Republic is just dragging their feet,” she said.

“We’re working directly with the city to address their concerns,” read a statement from Republic Services. “As we announced last week, customers with questions about their service or invoices are asked to follow the standard customer service process and call (619) 421-9400. We recognize that some customers may have received a different service experience than others, so we will handle individual situations on a case-by-case basis.”

Republic Services declined commenting on a lawsuit filed in Superior Court by a San Diego man. The man’s attorney, Ramin Hariri, said in a statement: “Republic Services failed to take the necessary steps to prevent an interruption in services they were contractually required to provide to thousands of Southern California residents. They then compounded this problem by continuing to charge customers even though no waste or recycling pickup services were being performed by the company. We are prepared to litigate this matter in order to achieve fairness and justice for Southern California residents.”

Galvez anticipated the complaint could become a class-action lawsuit against Republic Services that included hundreds of customers. She said the sanitation company may be able to make it all go away by simply crediting its customers for the month they paid and didn’t have adequate service.

A proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against Republic Services stating the company continued to charge customers who weren’t getting service during the employee strike.

“Just bite the bullet. Give everyone a full month’s credit,” she shrugged.

Kachadoorian also demanded a meeting between the city and Republic Services on Monday.

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