Archive | September, 2011

A Brilliant Idea Goes to Waste

6 Sep

Once in a while you come across a solution to a problem that’s so simple; you’re torn between applauding it and kicking yourself for not thinking of it.

The Bagster is an ingenious product from Waste Management for the disposal of debris from smaller renovation projects.

As they say it’s “the alternative to bulky metal dumpsters”.

Essentially it’s a dumpster or skip (UK) made of some heavy-duty fabric that holds up to 3300 lbs of garbage.

It comes in a bag for around $40 and when you need it you simply unfold it and start chucking stuff in, it’s a cracking piece of kit.

It costs more per ton than using a dumpster, but for downtown locations where a dumpster won’t fit, or when your demolition date is uncertain, it’s a premium worth paying.

{The ingenious Bagster}

When it’s full you book a collection and a chap with a boom truck comes and hooks it off your yard, just like this demo.

My mate Rick is a bona fide renovation genius, so when I challenged him to demolish my existing kitchen and rough in the new one over a weekend, he was totally up for it.

So Saturday morning the ingenious Bagster was unfurled on our tiny front lawn, and once most of our 50-year-old kitchen had been ripped out, I started chucking armfuls in.

And on Monday the kitchen fitters arrived and by Thursday the new kitchen was pretty much installed.

All that remained was to schedule a pick-up by calling 1-877 789 2247.

And that’s when it all went pear-shaped.

OK, I confess that my reading of the packaging was perfunctory.

{Oh those instructions}

When I called the call centre, it turned out I hadn’t grasped that there was a pick-up window of 3 business days.

No problem I thought, I’ll just park the car on the street in front of it, to ensure boom truck access.

But what I hadn’t factored in was, they could show up for pick up anytime within the 3 day window, and if I wasn’t around to move the car when the truck arrived, “a penalty charge may apply”.

There was something about “may” in the same sentence as “penalty charge” that made me uneasy.

Thinking, maybe I’d just got a particularly unhelpful call centre rep, I called  a couple of days later with much the same result.

Meanwhile, the Bagster was losing its lustre as it lay on the lawn like a beached whale.

{Free Baggy}

What offered so much, as a convenient disposal solution was proving inflexible and inconvenient – the exact opposite of its USP!

I viewed the web demo again and noticed the entire operation appeared to take place in a vast white aircraft hangar.

Maybe the problem was I live on a real street.

What hurt far worse than the now permanent mound on the lawn was promise betrayed, I felt like an MIA fan after the release of Maya.

A hashtag search on Twitter revealed @BagsterBag, hence:

Soon after DMing my number, a very helpful woman named Bev contacted me from Waste Management Canada.

She not only offered to shorten pick-up window, but also to liaise between me and the boom truck operator to ensure I’d be around to move the car.

And sure enough on the specified day voila, just like that the infernal Bagster was gone!

So how did this brilliantly simple idea get so frustrating, I felt compelled to blog about it?

Maybe the problem is cultural.

Waste Management is predominantly a commercial waste company.

They acquired the Bagster which had started life under the brand name Rhino Bag from founders Randy Uens & Mark Handley.

I’m sure  the word “synergy”  was bouncing around the board room, and fair enough, because this would appear to be an acquisition with a great fit…on paper.

But a 3 business day pick-up window in a major urban centre is hardly practical.

It felt like the mindset of a corporation unused to dealing with consumers — a different kettle than handling commercial accounts.

Presumably an algorithm or app could be deployed to shorten this window.

Or if the logistics truly can’t support more flexibility then maybe a phrase such as: “this product may not be suitable for use in certain locations” ought to be prominently displayed on the packaging.

Because it really shouldn’t take at least 7 phone calls plus a string of tweets to get the Bagster, or any other product, to do what it says on the can.

Sadly, the idea is so much better than the execution.

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