What’s Next? Responding to JACO’s unexpected closure

By Will Adams, Manager of Research Services –

Utility customers stuck with old refrigerators might now have some extra room to store Thanksgiving leftovers.

JACO Environmental, a Mill Creek, Washington-based appliance recycling contractor, unexpectedly shuttered its doors after going into receivership last week, leaving some utility customers frustrated with bounced checks and idle appliances.

But JACO isn’t the only company receiving a cold response from customers; utilities across the United States are now challenged to effectively communicate their vendor’s situation to their customers, process checks and mitigate any potential fallout from decreased customer satisfaction and local media reports.

The 20-year-old utility industry partner, which operates in 28 states from Maine to California, recycles almost half a million appliance units a year.

Per a report by local WHEC News 10 on the closure, JACO was in “forbearance with a secured lender, but the forbearance recently ran out, so both sides had agreed to the receivership. In essence, the owners of JACO owe debt to a lender and the company has stopped all pick-up operations.”

NYSEG customer Harry Coover told reporters, “I figured, ‘Well they always come late, so I’ll call them about 1:30 and they’ll tell me the truck will be there about 5.’ And I got the message that they were no longer in business. I ought to put it in the back of my truck, take it to NYSEG and dump it in their driveway, since they have no other solution for me.”

NYSEG informed customers of the situation with a short message on its website, requesting patience as more information is updated in the coming days and weeks: “As we look into this issue, we are advising participants not to deposit any rebate checks issued prior to Nov. 20. Those checks should be disregarded as new checks will be issued.”

If you and your colleagues are interested in learning how other utilities like NYSEG are managing customer communications and logistics, please join Chartwell for an insightful and interesting discussion as utilities from around the U.S. and Canada share their approaches on this matter.

Chartwell will host a call on Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 4 p.m. Eastern to discuss how the industry is communicating to customers in the wake of JACO’s receivership. This call, free to Chartwell Premier Members, will include:

  • An overview from Chartwell’s analysts of utility messaging related to JACO’s receivership
  • How local media are covering this issue
  • Other refrigerator recycling program vendors
  • Brief discussions from utilities that have been affected
  • A facilitated discussion to help attendees scope out next steps

For more information on the call, please contact Will Adams at wadams@chartwellinc.com or at 404.237.9099 ext. 260

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