Richard O’Sullivan got in touch after selling Bank House Stores in Suffolk with a warning about Biffa. He wrote: “I had notified all the appropriate suppliers and service providers and the new owners were happy to continue with all existing services.

“The Biffa bin disappeared with the collection on 11 October and there was no general waste collection the following week, so my purchaser kindly disposed of the accumulated waste at the local landfill - as he had also done two months earlier when the same thing happened and we were without a collection for three weeks.

“Despite repeated calls, no bin appeared by the day of sale and the new owner contacted the local council to take on the contract. I have now received an email from Biffa informing me that I must pay £406.53 for final exit fees. They supported this claim with a copy of the terms and conditions page from the original contract signed in 2010.

“When you retire, you must pay the remainder of that year’s contract PLUS another three months. They refer to this as a liquidated damages charge and I am being charged the full payment up to 8 August 2018.

“As usual, it’s all in the small print, but is this sort of contract legal - it’s certainly not ethical. Anyone thinking of signing with Biffa should be warned.”

I emailed the company and a spokesperson from Biffa said: “We take all customer feedback seriously and our dedicated team is working closely with Mr O’Sullivan to reach a resolution. Our contracts are all in line with robust industry standards and uphold the Environmental Services Association’s Code of Conduct.”

I advised Richard to protest and take his sweet time in paying the bill. He informed me: “I took your advice and made it clear how unfair I thought their terms were. They finally came back with an offer of a 50% credit which they considered a generous gesture to reflect my years of custom. I have now paid the £203 final settlement just to get rid of them.”

But he adds: “Potential customers should be aware of the potential penalties for ending the contract.”

The nonsense is the lack of any redress for their failures. They are quite blatant in responding to missed collections as being irrelevant “as we are contracted to collect a volume which we will still do even if we have missed some scheduled collections”.

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