‘We are only human’ – investigation complete into brown bin sticker error

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A full investigation into the mistake which led to some people who paid for garden waste collections receiving multiple wheelie bin stickers has been completed, Boston Borough Council has (Wednesday) said.

A mistake when programming a complex computerised mail-out system led to only some of those who had paid for garden waste collections receiving more than one letter of confirmation complete with their yellow stickers for 2017/18 collections, the authority has said in its latest statement on the matter.

It reads: “Once the process had been started letters in the system continued to be delivered over three days because of the use of second-class mail even though the council corrected the error as soon as it was spotted.

“It was purely human error, compounded by a complicated computerised process, necessary to deal with the 11,800 customers and around 13,500 brown wheelie bins spread across the borough and managed by a workforce which also has to deal with green and blue bins.

“The council pro-actively issued statements on its own website and social media platforms, available to the media, as soon as it became aware of the problem.

“The council is extremely grateful to all the residents who have returned their excess stickers to us and appreciates many comments received from those who have accepted that we are only human and mistakes sometimes happen. Returned stickers can be used again.”

We are so sorry that this happened. It was an honest mistake because we are only human.

In total 1,319 letters were sent in error, the council says.

Some received just one additional letter, most had four or five, it adds.

The council says it accepts full responsibility for the mistake and no fault is apportioned to the printer, The Boston Sign Company LTD.

No customer will be charged for any service they have not requested.

George Bernard, head of the council’s environmental services, said: “We are so sorry that this happened. It was an honest mistake because we are only human. I wish it hadn’t happened and if I could turn the clock back it wouldn’t happen. Many people have been very understanding and commented that we all occasionally make mistakes.”

The council has a full record of every sticker sent in error and bin lorry in-cab systems will show the correct amount of services for each property to help prevent fraudulent use, it adds.

A cost for the error has yet to be calculated, the council says.