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Lincoln garbage collector says it's being targeted

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News,Business

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A new garbage collecting business in Lincoln says it is being hurt by underhanded tactics of other, long-established garbage companies that resent the new competition.

New company Trash Taxi is crying foul over some of the tactics, The Lincoln Journal Star reported (http://bit.ly/ThzfYp ) Saturday.

Those tactics include cards and notices sent to customers accusing Trash Taxi of providing lousy service and implying that customers have complaints with the Better Business Bureau, even though the bureau lists zero complaints, Trash Taxi owner Dana Houser said.

A few competitors have refused to sign for certified letters canceling service after customers signed up with Trash Taxi, Houser said.

And three recycling processors, which sort and resell recycled products brought in by the garbage haulers, will no longer take Trash Taxi's recycling business, said Houser.

Lincoln's established garbage collecting companies say they are just protecting customers.

"(Houser) is not the victim. He's the instigator," said Steve Hatten, past president of the Lincoln Solid Waste and Recycling Association and owner of Paragon Sanitation.

He and others say Trash Taxi's initial prices were so low — about half the price of other haulers with free service for people older than 80 — that local haulers don't believe the company can stay in business.

Historically, family-owned garbage services have stayed in designated neighborhood under an unwritten agreement, and they have seldom competed directly for residential garbage service. But Houser said that model has become unreasonable and unprofitable as competition grows, so he began seeking business in areas traditionally served by others.

Donna Garden, assistant director for Lincoln's Public Works and Utilities Department, said the city has no power to intervene.

"This is a free market system," she said.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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