Thursday 22 March 2018

'We apologise... we've made mistakes. But if we don't get paid we won't collect the bins'

GREYHOUND boss Michael Buckley has finally apologised for the bin chaos across Dublin.

The wealthy businesssman now admits that his company "made mistakes" during the takeover of the capital's rubbish collection.

In his first interview since the crisis began four weeks ago, Mr Buckley told the Herald: "We'll put our hands up and apologise, we apologise to our customers out there."

He conceded that residents were left in limbo for weeks before promising to give Dubliners the "best value bin service in the country".

However, he said that he and his brother Brian Buckley had inherited a "broken system" from Dublin City Council, warning that "if we don't get paid, we won't collect the bins".

The Herald can today reveal that families are facing an extra €15 on their annual bill from July, as the company hikes up charges.

And as first revealed by this newspaper, the long-running waiver system in Dublin city and south Dublin will be axed.

Speaking exclusively to the Herald about the chaotic privatisation deal, Michael Buckley today apologised to families for the poor communication, admitting: "I put my hands up, we could have done some things better.

"We've learned a lot, we would have done a lot of things differently," he said.

Greyhound is run from its Clondalkin base by Michael (37) and his brother Brian (40).

The company was described as "callous" and "disrespectful" following a series of controversial warnings to customers after taking over the bin service at the start of February.

However, Mr Buckley told the Herald that the company had a "negative message" to deliver which was always going to be received badly.

"We had a very difficult message to deliver. It was a negative message to get out there. There was a large number of customers out there who hadn't been paying their bills, that had been utilising this service.

"It was a huge shock to the system as well -- you used to pay in arrears, now you have to pay upfront, because to save €12m on a loss-making business, we had to do this model.

"It was a difficult message to deliver, it was always going to be received negatively."

Details have now emerged of the messy nature of the transfer of the city's waste collection service.

Mr Buckley revealed to the Herald that his company "does not know" how many customers it has and that there may still be families who have not been contacted by Greyhound. This means that for years Dublin City Council had not had a full picture on many customers they had.

Mr Buckley said: "We inherited a system that was broken. That's why the council sold this, it wasn't sustainable, it was broken, we had to make changes to get this sustainable and I think they were small sacrifices versus the alternatives -- double the price or shutting down libraries, diverting €12m from other areas of the council's budget into that, whereas the private sector could step in."

He said that bins were left uncollected because "customers starting coming out of the woodwork".

Mr Buckley told the Herald that the company's biggest problem is the large number of customers only using bags, which makes it difficult to have them accounted for.

"The bag customers is a real problem, anyone who has a bin in front of them we know all about them so there's no issue there."

But he emphasised that he and his brother are "running a business" and that anybody who does not pay will not have their bins collected.

"We're a private company. Our objective is to provide the best price and the best service but somebody has to foot the bill," he said.

"The big message for us is we're a private company providing a service and we have to get paid for it. We're not going to let a situation arise where we'll do that work for free and then we have to charge our customers, who are paying more, those customers will just move to a competitor who will end up being cheaper."


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