Waste Management has been under fire by a slew of customers complaining on social media concerning its ability to deliver propane services in a timely matter. But the company says that due to recent inclement weather, trucks are having difficulty reaching some areas of Tehachapi and Bear Valley.

The company, which took over operation of propane services from Benz in 2017, currently serves 2,800 customers in the greater Tehachapi area.

Resident Jessica Otis said she was formerly under a monthly delivery contract with Benz. However, ever since Waste Management took over, she has not had propane delivered to her home since May 11, 2018.

"The only delivery I had was an emergency delivery on Dec. 31 when I ran out," Otis said. "Since then, I have been unable to get another delivery. Yes, I pay my bills. They tell me it will be delivered every time I have called in the last week, after they missed this month's delivery. I still have no propane."

Eloisa Orozco, senior area communications manager for Waste Management of Southern California, said the business does not offer automated pay services, and only charges its customers for propane it delivers.

"People only get charged when we deliver the actual propane. The people who we have under the Keep Full Program, our people go around and they check on a monthly basis, and if they don't need it, then they don't put the propane in. But if they are running low, then they fill it up and the customer gets charged after the fill-up so there is no reoccurring charge," Orozco said.

Another resident told Tehachapi News she, too, experienced a problem having propane delivered, although she was under contract to "keep full."

"I had no problems until this winter hit and now, since Waste Management have bought the company, they seem to be dropping service for the delivery of propane gas," said Sally Curran, who has lived outside city limits for the past four years.

Curran said she found her tank had run dry around 5:30 p.m. on a Friday evening during freezing temperatures.

"(It) was an ordeal and terribly stressful event with the prospect of below freezing temps during the weekend and having all my utilities running off propane," Curran said.

Curran said she was ultimately forced to cancel service with Waste Management.

"I had to change companies," she said. "It was very disconcerting. It kinda bummed me out because I'm paying more for my gas, but Kern River Propane stepped up and got all of my appliances going. Their (Waste Management's) tank is still here. They said they would come get it, but haven't come back yet."

Local customers have also complained that they are being charged a $250 fee to remove their propane tanks after canceling services with Waste Management.

According to Orozco, the removal fee is charged "because it takes specialized, hazmat people to move that equipment."

"However, we have been working with residents who are unable to pay that fee on a one-on-one basis. We can work with them," Orozco said.

Customers who change from Keep Full contracts to On Call are not charged a fee, she Orozco.

For customers with urgent needs, Orozco said Waste Management is extending service of 25-gallon propane tanks via pickup truck delivery when safe to do so.

Said Orozco, "We do have a dedicated team that is available after normal service hours. Customers needing services may reach our team at 661-305-6494."

Waste Management can also be reached at its customer care number at 822-6871.