That $100 million in settlement dollars from allegedly mistaken over-charges is now going out to Recology customers over an online portal, though the company claims they’ll send you a check if you do nothing before July 30.
One of the bright sides of the Mohammed Nuru Public Works scandal — and the resulting federal bribery charges against Recology officials — was the early March news that SF Recology customers would be reimbursed for rate hikes that may have been inappropriately approved by Nuru. City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s $100 million settlement deal, which was approved by the Board of Supervisors in May, included a $7 million payment to the city, and set aside $94.5 million for anyone who’d been an SF Recology customer between July 1, 2017, and March 31, 2021. Payments to individual customers will reportedly average $190 apiece.
BREAKING:— Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez (@FitzTheReporter) March 4, 2021
Since 2017, San Francisco's garbage company, Recology, has overcharged ratepayers to the tune of $94.5 million.
Now they're going to pay it back — and then some.
Who was in charge of garbage rates? Mohammed Nuru, former Public Works director.https://t.co/zrwbBMV95n
So, when are we going to get that money? You can apply for it now, though even if you don’t do it by the July 30 deadline, Recology claims “a check will be mailed to the address listed on your Recology account.”
There is now an announcement on the Recology San Francisco home page, seen above, that says “Consistent with our announcement earlier this year regarding the 2017 rate application, you may have received an email or postcard notifying you that you are eligible for a payment. If you have questions about that notification, please contact Recology’s payment administrator, EPIQ, at 1-855- 654-0939 or visit www.sfratepayment.com.”
Okay, let’s visit SFRatePayment.com. It is a legitimate, Recology-affiliated website, and says that “You should have received an email or postcard with instructions for payment options.” (Check your spam folder, as some users say the email went to their spam.) The system only works if you’ve received that email or postcard, as those contain a “Unique ID and PIN” required to log in and claim your rebate.
Logic would have dictated that Recology would simply lower your bill, or maybe just send rebate checks in the mail. They say they still will. According to the Recology rebate FAQs, “If you have not selected a payment option by July 30, 2021, a check will be mailed to the address listed on your Recology account.”
So you could just wait for that check to arrive in August-ish, but there are some advantages to using the online portal. You can request the money via PayPal, Venmo, or Zelle, and presumably you will receive your payment more quickly. Do not bank on it being $190, that is just the reported average, and likely involves many factors in its calculation.
If you didn’t receive an email or postcard notice but you think you are eligible, there is Recology Payment Administrator contact information in the FAQs.
We shorthand this as “Mohammed Nuru rebate,” though we should note that the claims about Recology execs and their dealings with Nuru are all still alleged (though it is the FBI doing the alleging here). In November, the FBI indicted Recology community relations manager Paul Giusti for funneling $1 million in alleged bribes to Nuru. Former Recology VP John Francis Porter was charged with bribery and money laundering for a $20,000 payment to Nuru through the now-discredited Lefty O'Doul's Foundation for Kids. Nuru, Guisti, and Porter all have looming federal court dates. But Porter’s indictment says that alleged bribes were OK’d “with the approval of Porter or Porter’s immediate predecessor,” so more Recology names could come up in future indictments.
Recology has previously sought to clarify that the revelation about overpayments by customers for trash services was made by Recology, internally, and they volunteered this to the City Attorney — though the whole sequence of events is unclear, and this was all happening amid this federal probe. The company has understandably sought to distance itself from this scandal, and has characterized this rate-payment mistake as a clerical error, which, perhaps, it was.
"We value our customers, and making them whole for this mistake is our top priority," said Recology CEO Sal Coniglio in an earlier statement. "As soon as we learned of the mistake, we took immediate action. We are grateful to the City Attorney for helping us reach a resolution that benefits our San Francisco customers."
Image: @MrCleanSF via Twitter