We've probably all been there. You go for the once in a blue moon trip to the tip. You're towing a trailer for the first time in a year or two, half lost, and you stumble upon the entrance.
You are then struck by a barrage of signs. Do this. Don't do that. Waivers of liability. Fees, fine print and a scowling attendant who looks at you like you're the worst form of idiot. And you haven't even opened your mouth yet.
|A barrage of signs, courtesy of HuffPost|
Depending on your personality, you rustle up your best "I know what I'm doing" swagger, hoping like hell you'll bluff your way through. Or you go all subservient and meekly ask what happens next. Doesn't really matter, because you then get interrogated about what is in the load, with no clues about what matters. And so you explain that you've got your husband's old vinyl suit (lively little number that was), a couple of tree branches and a couch.
You may then get an inspection, at which point the attendant uncovers a tin of paint and a couple of tyres that you've tried to smuggle in. Which, if you'd known they wanted to know about, you would have disclosed. And you then get charged some ridiculous amount for an arbitrary interpretation of the fees that you can't read anyway. And you're sent on your way to tip.
It doesn't get better at the tip site. You drive nervously down a dodgy goat track hoping you're not trespassing, before you end up with a whole heap of other non-trespassers. Another attendant wanders over and shows you the needle's eye you are to reverse your trailer through, then wanders off (perhaps to film it for "world's greatest reversing idiots"). At which point you break out into a cold sweat, and finally get in there after causing a minor riot among the people waiting.
So you unload. By yourself. Doesn't matter how heavy anything is, and by this point you just want it gone. Doesn't matter that the old couch is ok. Don't care about separating out branches from general waste. Just get it off this trailer so I can flee far from here. Which you do, and only return once you've forgotten the whole experience.
As I'm wont to say, it doesn't have to be thus.
Imagine if the tip was a warehouse in an industrial part of town, but instead of looking like a tip, it looked more like a drive through bottle shop. One big, simple sign showing prices and not much more. There are only a few prices.
You drive in, an attendant walks over to you and doesn't bother with the interrogation. They just say hello and ask if you'd like a hand unloading. Which of course you do, and they bring a crate over to the car. And you both unload, together. No reversing, no crazy questions, just good old fashioned service.
Even better, the attendant helps to separate out the stuff that is still ok. So the couch is put to one side. The cardboard is separated with you. The paint and tyres are put to one side. The crate for rubbish remains pretty empty. All the while the attendant chats to you, you know how the place works and you know what the fee is going to be. When it's all done, you're charged the appropriate fee, paying via a mobile device and you're free to go.
But you don't want to go. Because there is an awesome little shop and cafe, where all the stuff that was separated out from everybody else is available for sale. And everything is so, so cheap. So you drive your car (and trailer) to a parking bay, get yourself a coffee and browse. Either walking around or using one of many iPads at the tables. Congratulating yourself on a job well done, and looking for an excuse to return. Maybe all of the kids' stuff being stored in the back room?
How could you not love this service?
It is nothing more (nor less) than rethinking the waste facility so that it serves the needs of the customer. Not the needs of efficient bulk handling. Which, to be fair to the attendants, discourage them from helping.
Is customer service in waste facilities a crazy notion?