THOUSANDS of householders have been left out of pocket after being caught up in a dispute between two of the country's largest bin firms.
The Irish Independent has learned that former customers of Greyhound Recycling had average sums of €50-€100 incorrectly docked from their bank accounts on New Year's Day.
The firm says it has begun refunding those affected and has claimed that the blunder was caused by the actions of its main rival in the capital, City Bin.
Customers who switched to City Bin in November and December were slapped with Greyhound's annual service charge, which ranges from €50-€200 depending on the individual contract.
The money was taken directly from customers' accounts through direct debit on January 1. It's understood that the majority of sums deducted were between €50-€100.
Greyhound said the mistake occurred because it was not provided with "sufficient opportunity" to process customers' cancellations.
The firm insists that if it had been given a longer period of notice from its rival, then it would have removed the former customers' bank details from its system.
However, City Bin refutes the claim that it did not provide adequate notice and accused Greyhound of having instilled "financial worry" in thousands of former customers.
The matter has now been referred to the National Consumer Agency (NCA) which has urged any affected customers to contact them.
Relations between the two companies are extremely hostile and have deteriorated further since City Bin entered the Dublin market in 2012.
City Bin offers to fill in cancellation forms on behalf of its new customers before sending the documentation directly to Greyhound's offices.
Greyhound claims that the "late delivery" of these forms has "unavoidably resulted in some customers having had (the) annual service charge automatically applied to their account".
"Greyhound Household has now refunded many of those customers and is currently in the process of making appropriate refunds to those affected as a priority," according to a spokesperson.
In a statement to the Irish Independent, City Bin director Niall Killilea refuted Greyhound's claim that it wasn't given adequate notice to process the cancellations.
"All cancellation forms were processed efficiently. It is the responsibility of Greyhound to process these instructions in a timely manner," Mr Killilea said.
"Not only have Greyhound failed to honour their own terms and conditions, but they have instilled financial worry in thousands of their former customers. Furthermore, if Greyhound could not deal with the volume of cancellations, they should not have taken the money until their backlog was cleared."
A spokesperson for the NCA urged affected customers to contact them if they do not receive a refund.
"In general, the agency would be concerned if any practices relating to switching significantly disadvantaged consumers."