by Christopher Zoukis
If you live in south-central Pennsylvania and your trash is picked up by Penn Waste, a company owned by Republican State Senator Scott Wagner, you might want to pay the bill on time. If you don’t, police officers may come to your home, inventory your possessions, and eventually sell them at auction to cover the bill.
That’s all completely legal. When a creditor sues a debtor and obtains a judgment, the creditor can use a “writ of execution” on personal property in order to collect. Penn Waste has obtained 263 such writs since the beginning of 2016. According to an analysis of court records by the York Daily Record/Sunday News, the amount due on most of the bills ranged from $150 to $250.
Joe and Christina Kirby learned about writs of execution the hard way. They fell behind on the bills because of Christina’s illness. One of the bills was for $160, owed to Penn Waste. When the company didn’t get paid, they went to court. Then they sent the police to the Kirby home to collect.
A member of the York County Sheriff’s Office inventoried the two cars in the driveway and made his way through the home, inventorying the Kirby’s personal property, as he is legally permitted to do. Responding to a hysterical call from his wife, Joe Kirby rushed home and paid the bill, which had ballooned to $650 with fees.
“It was real demeaning to us,” said Kirby.
Wagner’s company defended the practice as a last resort used in “extreme cases.” Amanda Davidson, director of marketing for the company, said by the time Penn Waste sends armed law enforcement officers to take their customer’s possessions, the customer has been given an average of nine months to pay the debt.
“Penn Waste provides an important service to the community,” Davidson said. “We do not think it is unreasonable to utilize the judicial system to collect money owed to us for services we have already provided.”
Joe Kirby said he doesn’t think that heavy-handed practices like writs of execution are fair.
“If there’s any route around not using Penn Waste, we’re 100 percent going to cancel them,” said Kirby.
Sources: ydr.com, thefreethoughtproject.com
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