Some 30A Recycle customers have taken matters into their own hands as they await refunds that were supposed to be issued this month.
Mary Jo Howard of Panama City said she has not received her pro-rated refund as of Thursday, after owner Tony Bucher said all refunds were mailed and processed to customers by July 31.
The company started curbside services in Bay and Walton counties in September. Services ended after Walton County’s solid waste and recycling program — where 30A delivered its materials — witnessed a decline in the plastics market.
In June, Bucher said customers would get refunds by July 15, but some people said they did not receive them. The News Herald’s attempts to contact Bucher were unsuccessful and he did not return calls left by a reporter.
Howard said she filed a claim with the Better Business Bureau against the company months ago, but it was a “dead end.” The Better Business Bureau Serving Northwest Florida could not confirm Howard’s claim. The organization can’t identify consumers’ identities without their permission, said Tammy Ward, communications director.
Four complaints against 30A have been filed with the bureau. An excerpt from one complaint, dated June 18, stated: “After waiting a couple of weeks we decided that we no longer wished to remain customers, since we were not being provided service. We made the request the second week of April and were told we could expect our refund within 7-11 business days. To date we have not received our pro-rated refund.”
Closing a business does not free the business of its duties to customers, unless the company files bankruptcy, Ward said.
Ward said if consumers can’t find business owners, they can send letters to the business address that might be found if a forwarding address was left with a post office. She also said customers can file a complaint with the Florida Attorney General’s Office or seek legal assistance.
“In addition, if the county where the business is located requires an occupational license, they can check with the occupational licensing department to see if they have the business owner’s name and address on the license,” she said. “If they know the address of the business they can try to find out if the property is owned, leased or rented, and who, if appropriate, was the landlord. In the event the business was incorporated, they can call the secretary of state to check on the registered agent.”
Howard said she doesn’t know if Bucher led customers on by promising refunds.
“Maybe he was trying to buy time and got his tail in a crack. Maybe he was in over his head,” she said. “This whole ordeal is more disappointing and aggravating than anything. People have expectations. Now, my husband and I are back to making our weekly Saturday morning treks to a recycling location. Unfortunately, the dumpsters don’t take glass, whereas 30A would.”
Dennis Wallace of Bay County said he does not know if he will take legal action against the company. He said he will try his best to track down Bucher.
“I want to alert people on who he is,” Wallace said.
He said he believes Bucher led customers to believe they one day would receive a refund.