Window Breaker™ – Why is it so hard to track waste/recycling contract expiration dates?

In the property management industry, someone once told me “Our clients rarely review their waste removal contracts and since they can run 3 years, they often miss the deadline for making any changes.”

We hear this from property owners, property managers and small business owners almost every day.  Most often, when the thought of shopping around disposal rates becomes actionable, the existing contract has renewed for multiple years and anything short of paying liquated damages to cancel the contract is the only way to make a change.

Why is it so hard to track waste and recycling contract expiration dates?  In fact, why do individuals continue to sign service agreements with an “auto renew” clause in the first place?  The answer should be simple but instead, it’s actually complicated.

First, let’s look at what the “expiration date” really is.  One nationally recognized waste hauler contract states the expiration date is considered to “start on the date on which service under this agreement commences…”   So if the signature date reads 1-1-23 but the start date is listed as 4-1-23, the contract will expire (usually 36 months) on 3-31-26 and not 12-31-25.  When you have a small window of time in which to send a cancellation letter to the waste hauler, this 90 day period could impact the validity of your letter.

Second, now that we just touched on the window of time in the last paragraph, it’s worth noting that should anyone want to cancel a contract, their timeframe for doing so it extremely limited.  Most trash haulers will have language in their service agreements that allow for a cancellation “window” of time extending 60 or 90 days and usually it’s between 60-120 or 90-180 days prior to the end of the current term.  In the example above, the contract that expires on 3-31-26 will need to be cancelled during a specific window of time that is clearly spelled out in the agreement.  If the terms are 60-120 days, then the waste hauler must receive notice between 11-30-25 and 1-31-26.  What happens if the cancellation letter is received a day earlier or a day later than the cancellation window?  Your hauler might just throw it in the trash because technically, the contract language hasn’t been followed.

Finally, if you can figure out your window if time to send cancellation, where will you set up your reminder?  Outlook?  Google calendar?  A Post-it note on your desk?  Your waste hauler is NOT going to call you with a reminder so the #1 priority for anyone who just signed a contract is verify the cancellation date and set multiple reminders somewhere between 60 and 120 prior to the end of the term.

…or simply strike that auto-renew clause from the start.

Mark Lestina

President – Wastemaster, Corp.


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