Your trash could be someone else’s treasure, but chances are it’s just plain junk. So instead of renting a dumpster or spending a Saturday making dump trips, customers of 1-800-Got-Junk are using the Web to throw away their unwanted stuff.

When Anthony Haraguchi, a network engineer, wanted to empty his garage of old books, kitchen gadgets and a stove, he used the junk removal company’s recently launched online booking system. After accessing www.1800gotjunk.com, Haraguchi estimated it would take two people 30 minutes to clean out his garage. And when the two haulers arrived, priced the job at US$150 and loaded the truck, Haraguchi paid the money – without tying one trash bag.

“We don’t have a car big enough to throw the stuff away,” he says. “It was real convenient to go through them.”

The 14-year-old firm, which specializes in transporting nonhazardous trash to recycling centres, has recently added technology to the mix. Cameron Herold, vice president for operations, sees the irony. “It’s a very IT-driven company, but we’re about as offline as you can get. We work with junk,” he says.

Herold expects the company to log US$450,000 in online bookings during its first three months, and US$3 million during 2004. The company’s Vancouver call centre goes through a homegrown JunkNet system, which provides CRM, scheduling and accounting data for 90 franchises in Canada and the United States. The system is flexible enough, Herold says, to reschedule jobs when customers give inaccurate estimates of their stuff to discard, or when one of the company’s more than 150 trucks breaks down. Drivers use wireless PDAs or WAP- or HTML-compatible cell phones to access their schedules.

Customers don’t get pricing estimates over the phone or Web. Instead, prices are determined onsite, based on location, the amount and weight of the trash, and recycling surcharges for items such as computer monitors and refrigerators.

The company will take just about anything except hazardous waste, according to its Website. How about 13 huge porcelain Buddha statues? Or 18,000 cans of expired sardines? Put ’em on the truck.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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