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Do You Understand Your Uniform Bill?

By Gabby Hernandez, Social Media & Communications Coordinator

So you’ve made a sustainable choice and switched to reusable absorbents and shop towels. The environment thanks you! Reusable absorbents can help your company divert tens of thousands of pounds of waste from landfills or incineration every year. If you pick the right service provider, you can also save money while saving the planet.

Unfortunately, some billing models give you less bang for your buck. A “uniform” billing model is common in the reusable absorbents industry. The absorbents launderer charges the customer the same amount every single bill, for the same amount of inventory and the same amount of services. Sounds simple, right? The devil is in the details. You could be paying two to three times more than you should be to get your absorbents and shop towels cleaned.

The Problem with a Pre-Set Inventory

Often, the uniform billing model is sold as a convenient way to keep track of expenses. If your bill is the same every month, you have no surprises. However, the biggest surprise is that the pre-set amount of inventory is three times more than your actual usage. In order to understand your uniform bill, you have to know how your uniform bill defines “inventory.” “Inventory” includes all products at your facility, all products in transit to the cleaning facility, and all products being cleaned by the service provider.

So that $0.05 per rag cost? Don’t multiply that by the 1,000 rags delivered to your plant last week – multiply it by the 3,000+ rags delivered, picked up, and being cleaned. You’re charged for this “inventory” every single service. As if being charged for 3 times the product wasn’t enough, you’ll also get charged for missing or damaged mats. The laundering company will add missing mats to your recurring monthly inventory. The costs add up quickly, and you could easily be paying three times as much as you should be.

The most common contract length in the uniform billing world is a whopping 60 months. If you want to change your product type, amount, or service frequency, you may be subject to a new 60-month contract. Read the fine print. Your agreement may list an auto-renewal clause. If you don’t submit written notice of cancellation prior to your contract’s end date, it will automatically renew. How much will more of the same billing model end up costing your bottom line?

Absorbents usage varies with the ebb and flow of production. With uniform billing, you are charged for the same amount of inventory every month, regardless of your actual usage. A consistent bill may seem appealing at first, but not if you’re consistently paying more than necessary.

What You Can Do

When shopping for a sustainable absorbents program, think about the overall cost, not just the price per piece. Are you charged for a pre-determined inventory or the amount of product you use? CLR’s a-la-carte billing model charges only once per service for the amount of material delivered. If you need fewer absorbents due to less production one month, your invoice will reflect your usage. CLR also offers a range of agreement lengths and service frequencies to fit your needs.

If you think you may currently be in a uniform price agreement, ask for a copy of your bill that breaks down “count” versus “inventory.” This is where you can see exactly how much more “inventory” is accounted for in your overall bill. Once you know what you’re paying for, contact an expert from CLR. We’ll walk you through your actual absorbent usage and what you would be paying with an a-la-carte billing model. You can still save green while going green!

Gabby Hernandez has worked at CLR’s St. Louis headquarters since 2016. She manages CLR’s social media, blog, and memberships in recycling organizations.