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Bin collection services – are you being scammed?

I had a conversation with one of my elderly neighbours last weekend that raised a couple of questions in my mind regarding how the current manner in which our bins are being collected – at least in Dublin – could potentially leave people open to being scammed.

I’d love to hear what people think about this. It’s just some thoughts and assumptions based on what I know and have been able to find out. If anyone can expand further on this, please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Identifying Bins

For anyone unfamiliar with the process involved, when you sign up for a bin collection service, you’re provided with a bin (or a number of bins), and you’re then given a set of barcode stickers that you put onto your bins. Those barcode stickers will identify your bin when it’s emptied so that the collection company can charge you accordingly.
Most people will also paint their house number onto the bins as well, but according to the bin collection company, it’ll the barcode sticker that will identify your bin, rather than what’s painted on the side.

Unscrupulous Neighbours

So, what would happen if some unscrupulous person on the same street as you was to swap the sticker from their bin with the sticker on yours? As far as you’re concerned, from a distance it’s still your bin because it has your house number on the side.

But with the barcodes swapped, every time they put their bin out in future, you’re charged. And every time you put your bin out, they’re charged.

And if you’re an old lady living on your own, putting your bin out once every couple of months, but they put their bin out every two weeks, then they’re getting the extra three bin collections for free – you’re paying for their extra waste disposal. And if you’re a good bin company customer, you’re paying by direct debit and you might not notice this scam for some time.

Basis for my Assumption

The above is my assumption of what could be done within the bounds of the existing systems set up by the bin collection companies.

My thinking was triggered by the fact that my neighbour received a call from her bin company telling her that her bin had been “swallowed” the previous week (I presume this means damaged somehow in the collection process) and that they would be sending out a new bin to her in the coming days.

But her bin was securely stored away, undamaged, in its normal place. As far as she was concerned, her bin was fine – it had her house number on it.

So what if?

What I do know is that, somehow, the bin company had a bin in their possession that was “swallowed” by the bin truck last week. And they thought it was my neighbours bin.

I can only surmise that they thought it was her bin because of the barcode identifier on whatever bin they did find.

And if her barcode was on someone elses bin that was swallowed, and there was no problem with her bin collection because it had a valid bar code on it, but probably then someone elses barcode, then that means there’s been some funny business going on somewhere in the neighbourhood with the bins.

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