Appliance Recycling: “Why don’t you pick up scrap metal for free?”

We LOVE to recycle your old appliances! It saves on landfill fees and helps prevent our landfills from filling up too quickly. And, we make a little bit of money off of it. In the majority of cases though it is not worth it economically to pick up your appliances for free. Some of the people who call us for services seem almost aghast at the thought we want them to pay us to pick up a washer and dryer or [insert other appliance type here].

In addition to labor there are also other costs involved in picking up appliances. The primary cost being gas and ‘wear and tear’ on our equipment. The IRS comes out with a rate each year to calculate gas and wear and tear for operating a vehicle. This year – 2018 – it is currently 54.5 cents per mile. As most around here know; there’s no way to get anywhere quick out here in the country. From our primary location to someplace in Harrisonburg or Winchester can be somewhere between 70 – 110 miles round trip. To operate our vehicles that is a cost of $38.15 to $59.95 per trip.

The price of scrap. “You make tons of money selling my appliance to the scrap yard,” people seem to think.  As of a couple weeks ago Rockingham Scrap Metals was paying .08 cents a pound for scrap iron. So, say you have a washing machine and dryer that have a combined weight of 200 pounds (being generous with the weight here). That will get you $16 at the scrap yard. As you can tell by the numbers, this payment doesn’t even come close to covering the cost of operating our vehicles to pick your item up.

On top of vehicle operation costs we have labor costs (you wouldn’t work for free would you?). Although we may be at your home for only 15 minutes, it often takes us 45 minutes to an hour or more to get to to you. Same for return trip. We’re generally looking at a time investment of 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours and 15 minutes or more. Maybe we get lucky and have 2 or more pick ups in the same location? You can’t count on that though (it rarely happens anyway).

We almost exclusively use Rockingham Scrap to recycle appliances. For us that is approximately a 72 mile round trip;  a vehicle operation cost of $39.24 – again, not taking into account time (labor fees).

These are the reasons why we charge to pick your appliances up to recycle them. This is why if you have a refrigerator (or 2) in Harrisonburg or Winchester Virginia we often times have to charge $95 and up. Are you closer to us in the Mount Jackson/ Basye VA area? Give us a call. We can do it at a much cheaper rate for customers that are closer to us. Often for as low as $40 or $50. Do you have a large amount of scrap (2,000lb+)? We can offer a reduced fee or no fee for very large amounts of scrap no matter how far you are in our service area.

So, what does Abelia Services do to avoid losing money recycling the scrap appliances we get from you? Primarily we charge a fee that covers our overall transportation costs and provides for a fair profit to us. We also store your appliance(s) until we have several thousand pounds to take to the recycling center.

We don’t want to lose your business through perceived high prices. At the same time no one can survive operating a business at a loss.

You might be asking yourself right now “I’ve seen people advertising on Craig’s List or on the Facebook yard sale sites offering to pick up my appliances and other scrap metal for free or really cheap (like for $20). Why can’t you do that? What’s the difference between them and you?”

The answer is actually quite simple. There are generally 3 reasons. First, the majority of these people don’t know how to calculate their costs. They operate at a loss constantly and don’t realize it. They are the guys that think because they made enough money to cover their gas and buy a case of beer that they have made money. They are the ones that show up at your doorstep with a beat up ugly old pick up truck that leaks oil on your drive. They are the guys you watch your valuables from while they are there. They are the guys that don’t have insurance and who you will never see again when they brake something costly at your home.

The second reason some can offer their removal services “free” is because they aren’t actually free. When they get to your door they will tell you there is a “refrigerant recycling fee” or an “electronics charge” or some other fee.

Third, they are in the city or a densely packed area where they don’t have to travel far to pick up your appliance. Or, they can schedule multiple pick-ups in a geographic area to spread the cost of travel over multiple items. We wish this scenario were true for us, but we’re based in the country – where nothing is close by. And, we generally don’t receive appliance pick up calls but for  a few times a month.

What can you do to get the cheapest price possible? 1) Find a company closer to you for these small loads. As much as we would welcome doing the work for you, we understand if you get a better deal and take it. 2) Call your friends. The cheapest way to get appliances out is to do it yourself. Don’t have a pick up truck or trailer to haul the item(s) in? Call a friend with one and offer them a meal and to pay for their gas for helping you. 3) Hire the guys who don’t know how to calculate their costs. You get a good price from them and eventually they will stop being competition for us when they can no longer afford to offer their services.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Caleb Benson

    Well explained and very interested to hear that you run into this problem too. The fact that you’re transparent about the process of picking up and disposal says a lot about how you run your business. We have a junk removal business in Riverside which is a decent size city and while we don’t have the same mileage to drive, we spend a lot of time dealing with heavy traffic which still takes it’s toll with wear and tear and gas mileage, not to mention labor time per job. Keep up the good work, it sounds like you’ll attract the right kind of customers by the way you going about your business.

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