Haggling for Cheaper Trash Service

I’m actually not a fan of haggling.  I don’t like approaching a place of business, being given a price, and then being expected to haggle over the value of the product or service I want until the merchant finally gives it to me at a “discount” rate.  I know things cost money, and I know businesses incur costs to deliver them to me.  On top of that, I know businesses expect to make a profit, and I don’t begrudge them that.  Those simple facts should all add up to discreet prices, and I prefer seeing the best price first so I can make as quick a decision as possible about whether or not I feel it’s fair.

Maybe that’s the issue – I would much rather cut to the chase.  Buying something is a task to me, not a game or even necessarily an enjoyable experience.  I do enjoy the things I buy, but I want there to be as little friction between my decision to buy something and my enjoyment of it as possible.  For these reasons I found buying jewelry in Mexico particularly vexing – how in the world am I supposed to know how much silver is worth?  How can I tell if it’s really silver?  Are your children really going to starve at $75 for a pair of earrings with some quasi-precious stone attached to it?

No lie: I actually paid double the price for a trinket I bought at a market in Paris because I didn’t feel like haggling and didn’t want to wait around for change.  He said a Euro, I had a two-piece.  We traded items and I went away happy… so I could go peruse used and antique bookstores.  Ahh, but I guess some transactions are meant to take time.

Of course, sometimes things just work out in your favor, no haggling required.  Such was the case for me when I called to setup trash and recycling service at our new home in Greenville.

If you live within the Greenville city limits, you get trash and recycling service thanks to your local taxes.  I happen to live a little less than half a mile away from the city limits, so I was on my own.  I hear competition drives prices down, but without knowing how much the city pays trash companies, I have no way of knowing if competition outweighs collective bargaining in trash service.  But I digress…

I had two options that I knew of: Waste Management and Waste Industries.  I found a quote online for the latter of $49.99 / quarter for weekly trash and “fortnightly” recycling service.  “Not bad,” says I, as I dial up Waste Management to get a quote from them.  Turns out they wanted to charge close to $75 / quarter for weekly trash and recycling.  I told the customer service rep that I wanted to check competing quotes, and she went into “convert the sale” mode.  “Is there anything we can do to get your service right now?” she asked sweetly.

“Well, really I just want to call Waste Industries and see if I’m reading their rates properly.  I’m seeing a quote of $49.99, and I’m all about saving $100 a year if I can.”

“Oh, well, let me see if I can approve a discount for you.”  Seconds pass.  A very few of them, leading me to believe I was somehow pre-approved.  “Ahh, in fact we can do weekly trash and recycling for $57 / quarter.”

“Sold.  I’ll call you again in a year when you try to raise me back up to your ‘normal’ rate.”

And that was that.  I hate haggling, but I honestly intended to call Waste Industries and ensure there weren’t hidden fes that weren’t published on the website I saw.  Additionally, we do some serious recycling at our house, and the weekly service would help a lot.  (By serious I mean that recyclables I accidentally – or even intentionally – throw in the trash are quite likely to be dug out and carried to the recycle bin by the next day.  I’m at least a conscientious recycler of brown bottles, though…)

If you have a higher rate with Waste Management here in Greenville County, call them and let them know you found a quote for $49.99 and would like to cancel your service.  I’m guessing you will be approved for that discount to stick with them.  If you need a different quote, check out http://www.garbageforless.com and put in your information to find your bargaining power with your existing trash provider.

(Disclaimer: I reserve the right to switch my service next year without mockery from you readers.  I have a soft spot with Waste Management, because I helped build their Greenopolis website.  But I’m no passive customer… if that discount disappears in a year, I’m hittin’ the road with my garbage and recyclables.)

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Leaving “Home” to Make a New One

For the last fourteen and a half years I’ve lived in Louisville, KY.  I was there for my final three years of high school, four years of college, and another seven years of the usual “life beginning” miscellany.  I began a career in web development, found a bride, bought a home, and delivered my daughter.  In Louisville I learned to love God, love my neighbors, and love a woman – none of these as easy as you might expect.  My tastes in music, travel, food, and drink all developed over time so that I now rock out instead of croon country, fly to Europe and around the U.S. enjoying the best local food I can find, and drink down a bitter beer or strong red wine with my steak.

Louisville has been my home these many years and has shaped the development of so much in my life, that it was quite intimidating to consider leaving it for a new home.  However, the stresses of traveling employment (primarily on my significant other) with a growing family (I’ve a son due in June!) necessitated just such a change.  Fortunately, I work from home for a company I helped found called Commerce Guys, so nothing requires I remain in Louisville, even if the wonderful community, church, and city that we’ve grown to love as a family will all be hard to replace.

My wife and I determined to have our second child, William Christopher, in Louisville and then get serious about moving to Greenville, SC where her family abides.  The last several times we visited Greenville, I’d been looking at homes, neighborhoods, and churches anyways to determine whether or not I’d be able to move us here and be happy about it.  I was warming up to the idea and basically felt that if a deal came that was too good to pass up, we’d jump at it, but if nothing happened until 2013, I was more than happy to spend another year in Louisville – at home.

Sadly and fortunately, one of those deals did come our way in the closing days of 2011.  I wandered around the city with a realtor for a good part of one day looking at homes and ruling them out one by one.  We were set to head home on New Year’s Eve when we decided to poke around a few more… and we loved every single one of them.  Two of them were priced to sell and captured our imaginations quite easily.  We decided on the drive home to make an offer, commit the process to the Lord, and move if all signs were a “go.”  As it turns out, we didn’t hit a single roadblock and became owners of our new home on February 10th, 2012, just 42 days after walking through it for the first time.  The whole process has been quite breathtaking, leaving us hoping to sell our beloved home in Louisville, the venerable Top Porch, in short order.

One of the ironies of moving is that we crammed so many “last” visits to our favorite places and restaurants in Louisville and “last” meals with friends in the final two weeks of our time in Louisville, that it became harder and harder to feel good about the move.  Had I not been under contract, I would have backed out a dozen times.  (I guess that’s why we sign those things…)  Realistically, I probably would’ve stuck it out (the move is good for my family after all), but I was definitely growing more depressed and fretful the closer the day came.  We threw one final giant going away party for our friends and church and hit the road with a mightily packed moving van on February 25th, 2012, and the dust is finally settling here in the new house a week and a half later.

This blog was born out of my desire to both chronicle my move from One Ville to Another and explore the new sights and tastes of Greenville, SC.  I knew I was in for a treat before moving here, as I’ve enjoyed many of the wonderful things around Greeenville (foremost among them the gorgeous Reedy Falls Park downtown), and I wanted to keep a careful record of the new things I find in the coming months.  Perhaps my notes on the boring details of a move (already have my SC Driver’s License), my description of the wonders of the Upstate (can you say Upstate International Beer Festival?), and the pleasures of living near the Thompsons and Whaleys (my in-laws) will both entice and assist those friends of mine I hope follow me down to Greenville some day in the future. You know who you are.

To the rest, I hope you enjoy the blog, and I look forward to hearing what you love best about Greenville… and reminiscing about what we all love best about Louisville.  Louisville will always be my hometown, but Greenville is already shaping up to be a wonderful new home.