After the abrupt closure of trash removal company Feher Rubbish last week, some of its Cayuga County customers described difficulty with the company and payments that have yet to be refunded.
The customers contacted The Citizen after it reported Feher's closure May 11. The family-owned company was in business for more than 50 years, according to its website, and covered an area spanning Rochester, Geneva, Watertown, Syracuse and Utica. Feher has not responded to calls to its Geneva or Syracuse locations.
Several of the company's former customers told The Citizen that its service has been spotty for the past year or so, with problems that included delayed trash pickup and even property damage.
Paul Woodmansee, of Owasco, said he contracted Feher for three months in March, only to wait more than a month for his receptacles. After two months, he found a new trash removal company.
Patti Fordham, of Fleming, said her pickup day was Wednesday, but for the past several months, "We were lucky if they came by Friday. Sometimes they wouldn't show up until the following week."
Todd Gaglianese, of Owasco, said Feher hasn't been coming on its designated collection day for about two months. He added that one of the company's trucks cracked his driveway culvert last winter, and it refused to address the damage. And as a result of Feher's closure, Gaglianese now has four weeks of recyclables and two weeks of trash sitting by his curb, he said.
Both Woodmansee and Gaglianese also said that Feher owes them money. In Woodmansee's case, the company didn't refund him after its lack of service led him to find a new one.
"After the recent closure and the fact that I never received any trash cans, I am convinced that they knew at the time I signed up for new service that they were going to close," Woodmansee said. "They should have never accepted a new account nor taken payment for three months."
Gaglianese, meanwhile, has paid ahead for trash removal service that he won't receive now that Feher is closed.
He and Woodmansee are two of less than 40 Owasco residents who contracted with Feher, town Supervisor Ed Wagner said. The only Cayuga County municipality that Feher's website says the company serves is Cayuga, but Clerk Deb Pinckney said the village no longer contracts with Feher. "Maybe a dozen" individual residents do, she said.
Auburn Superintendent of Public Works Mike Talbot said Feher had a contract to dump trash at the city's landfill, but "they weren't one of our bigger customers."
"They stayed mostly in Onondaga (County) and Geneva," Talbot said. "They didn't do much in Cayuga County."
Still, Talbot expects the company's closure has resulted in "some dumpsters that are pretty full right now." But its Cayuga County customers will not only have to find a new trash removal company, many will have to find a way to recover the money they paid Feher. They can file complaints online with the state attorney general's office (ag.ny.gov) or the Better Business Bureau (bbb.org).
They'll have to get in line, too: Syracuse media reported that Solvay Bank filed a lawsuit against Feher Monday in state Supreme Court, alleging the company owes the bank, the state and others more than $2.8 million. The bank asks the court to appoint a receiver to collect the income from the company's assets, citing "imminent danger" that those assets will be lost or diminished otherwise.