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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Futile attempts to replace my recycle container

Atlanta has a great recycling program.  Almost everyone I know is finding that the recycling container provided by the city of Atlanta is more filled than the regular garbage can as we all learn how to recycle more and more.

In November, the guys who collect the recycling broke the hinge on my container.  I have been trying since then to get the container replaced.  I wrote the following assertive letter to the Department of Public Works:

Dear Sir:

In late November the recycling collectors broke the hinge on my blue recycle container so that the lid is hanging by one hinge.  I called in early December to request a replacement.  I was told one would be delivered within the next three weeks.  That never happened.  I felt forgiving about that, given the holiday season, so in good spirits called again in early January to repeat my request.  After putting me on hold, the call person reported that my zip code had been improperly entered and she had corrected the error.  She told me I would have a new container "as soon as possible."

It's now past the middle of February.  I called on Friday and the call person did not answer my question about what had happened but said, "I'll put you through to my supervisor's voicemail and she'll call you back."  That never happened.

I would like a replacement for my recycle container.  It is extremely difficult for me to open and shut the container when the lid hangs by one hinge.  I don't know if that's because I am 5'1" or because I am 64, but either way, it's difficult.  Neither of those factors should count in why I need the container replaced.  I did not break it - the collectors did - and it seems completely unreasonable that it has been this long and I have still not gotten a replacement container. 

Please replace my recycle container.  I started to say "as soon as possible"  but since I now know from experience that that phrase does not have the same definition for your office as it does for me, I will simply say, please replace my recycle container.


Linda Tillman
Home Address
Atlanta, GA 30...

I sent this letter to the contact person for the Sanitation part of the Public Works department and also cc'd my city councilman, Alex Wan.  My son-in-law tells me that the only way to get the Public Works department to take action is to cc your council person.  So in addition to the letter above, I also filled out a form on Alex Wan's web site with this problem described.  Maybe between the two attempts, I'll get a replacement.

Alex Wan is know to be responsive (and he's a fellow beekeeper), so I think this will have impact.  In assertive letter writing, if you can get more power by copying to another person, even if that only serves as a record that you wrote the letter, it's important to do.

For example, if you are struggling to solve a problem with another person in your department at work, then any email should be sent to that person, but also copied to someone who might need to know about the issue you are addressing.  That both ups the possibility of solution and adds to the possibility of collaboration.

We'll see if this has any impact and I'll add to this post when/if I get the new container.  We'll find out what "as soon as possible" means to the Atlanta Department of Public Works.

Note:  I sent the email at 8:30 on a Sunday morning.  Within 30 minutes, I received an email from Alex Wan who was cc'd on the email, saying that he would get this figured out when he gets to the office on Monday morning - wow - that was quick!

Note #2:  At 7:24 PM on the same Sunday night (not at all during business hours), I got an email from the director of Solid Waste Service, Mr. Raikes.  This is what it said:

"Thank you for the corrected address information Dr. Tillman. I will have a replacement delivered on Monday please leave the broken cart curbside so we can remove. I appreciate your patience and apologize for the delay."


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