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A broker is not a consultant and vice versa. Can somebody tell that to the waste industry!?

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Broker: One who sells or distributes something. Synonyms: go-between, intermediary, middleman.

Consultant: One who gives professional advice or services. Synonyms: adviser, counselor, consigliere.

It sure seems like Merriam-Webster thinks consultants and brokers are not the same thing. Ask one of the big national waste haulers, though, and they’ll try to convince you otherwise.

Recently, these national haulers have attempted to limit customers’ rights to audit and generally manage their waste disposal costs, as we covered in “Waste Disposal Industry Alert: New Language Threatens Fundamental Customer Rights.” (see sidebar)

To briefly summarize our prior alert on this topic, the haulers have injected a new clause into their standard agreements which makes it extremely prohibitive for a customer to retain a consultant or agent (or broker) for the purposes of assisting with auditing and/or managing the program.

Specifically, in the event the customer does retain such 3rd-party assistance, the language gives the hauler the right to terminate the customer’s agreement with a mere 15 days’ notice.

We have, of course, urged waste disposal customers to reject this language, as there is no reason they should cede their rights to manage their waste hauling expenditures with whatever strategies they deem appropriate.

Here, though, we also want to note that buried within this campaign is a disingenuous conflation of brokers and consultants. It serves the interests of the national waste haulers, of course, but it’s vital that customers of these companies understand the fallacy of this conflation.

A broker is not a consultant and a consultant is not a broker.

For what it’s worth, we can actually understand the new clause as it relates to brokers specifically. Brokers sell essentially the same services as the waste haulers, only by cobbling together networks of haulers as opposed to selling and performing the services directly. By asking for this contractual limitation as it relates to brokers, the waste haulers are essentially asking for exclusivity. While your organization may or may not be OK with an exclusivity provision in your national waste contract, it’s certainly not a crazy thing to ask for.

But consultants, agents, advisors and auditors are quite different. The only thing accomplished by disallowing these entities’ involvement in your account is to ensure that the waste haulers will have less-informed customers with fewer options for managing their expenses with these suppliers.

Especially in these times—with increased demands on procurement resources in frequently leaner-than-ever departments—our clients know that they absolutely need to strategically augment their in-house resources with consultants, advisors and auditors.

There is absolutely no reason to let your waste haulers take these options off the table for your organization.

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