Propane Price Gouging
Propane home heating customers can use anywhere in the range of a couple hundred gallons plus or minus per year to a couple thousand plus or minus gallons of propane per year to fuel common household propane gas appliances (furnaces, waterheaters, clothes dryers, cooking appliances, pool heaters, spa heaters, etc.). Purchasing this range of volume of propane per year can add up to a significant amount of money per year.
Purchasing large volumes of propane without a clue of the propane price per gallon BEFORE each delivery puts a propane consumer at significant risk of becoming a victim of price gouging. Any propane consumer that puts a propane supplier on the 'honor system' to charge a competitive propane price for each delivery is taking a huge risk that may result in overpaying for propane. Failing to openly share pricing with propane consumers before each delivery creates a very tempting situation for a propane supplier to become greedy and put company profits higher on the company priority list than ensuring that each customer is informed of his or her propane price per gallon before each delivery. No excuse from a propane supplier to fail to share price per gallon information prior to each deliviery should be acceptable to any propane consumer. NO ACCEPTIONS! Demand your propane price per gallon BEFORE each delivery. If the propane supplier refuses your request, change to another supplier that puts customer honesty, integrity and price tranparency on their priority list!
Since virtually all propane suppliers choose not to openly and transparently post current propane price per gallon information on company websites, it is the responsibility of propane consumers to maintain awareness of current propane pricing of his or her propane supplier and all local competitors to ensure each delivery is priced competitvely when compared to all local suppliers.
The following paragraphs will provide some important tips to help a propane consumer maintain awareness of local pricing. The following paragraphs have BEFORE and AFTER words highlighted. The reason for this is to underscore the importance of researching and comparing pricing BEFORE each delivery - as attempting to research and compare prices AFTER a propane delivery may be extremely difficult, if not impossible - as the delivery has already been completed and the local suppliers may not have useful comparison information to share with consumers AFTER the delivery has been completed. Any company, propane or any other industry, that has created a situation where customer deliveries are completed without providing advance notice of the unit price of the product before each delivery should be a red flag for all customers. Perhaps this type of supplier feels that their customers don't care what the unit price is before each delivery? If you are a customer that cares and wants to make sure that you do not become a victim of propane price gouging, carefully read the pricing tips that are noted within our website.
As noted in other areas of this website and on the Internet, it is very important for propane consumers (not participating in a fixed pricing program or similar program that has a predetermined pricing formula) to find out and compare his or her price per gallon BEFORE each propane delivery. Without being aware of the price per gallon BEFORE each pending delivery, a propane consumer may become a victim of price gouging. Since virtually all propane suppliers choose not to openly post current pricing on their company website, comparing pricing BEFORE a propane delivery is the responsibility of each propane consumer and requires determination and dilligence.
Propane consumers should ALWAYS be informed of the price per gallon being charged by his or her supplier 24 to 48 hours BEFORE each pending propane delivery. After finding out his or her price per gallon BEFORE each pending delivery, a propane consumer should contact other local propane suppliers to compare and verify that the price per gallon is competitive.
How does a propane consumer initiate the process of viewing and comparing pricing before each pending delivery with his propane supplier? Simply tell your supplier before starting service (or at anytime after starting service with a propane supplier) that you want to be informed of your price per gallon 24 to 48 hours BEFORE each home delivery. Tell your propane supplier to notify you via smart phone text, fax, e-mail or voice-mail of your price per gallon. Make sure you have your propane supplier write this request in your paperwork to ensure that your supplier is aware of this commitment in the case a verbal agreement between you and one of their employees - and that employee is transferred, leaves the company, etc.
When contacting other local propane suppliers to compare your propane price per gallon for your pending delivery, be sure to compare other relevant propane delivery parameters including the approximate volume of your subject propane delivery, your approximate annual consumption and the propane tank ownership (homeowner or supplier leased) etc.
If you discover that your local propane price comparison check reveals that your current suppliers' price per gallon (including additional fees, if any) is indeed competitive compared to current prices being charged by other local suppliers, there is no action to take -- simply relax and look forward to receiving your pending delivery. However, you should make a note of the supplier quote that you received BEFORE the delivery to make sure that it matches the price per gallon that is used to calculate the total amount due noted on the supplier invoice following the delivery.
Conversely, if you discover that your propane price per gallon for the pending delivery is clearly above the range of prices currently being charged by other local propane suppliers, contact your propane supplier with supporting evidence from your local price comparison study (the price per gallon quotes from other local propane suppliers) and request that the your price per gallon be adjusted to within the pricing range of other local propane suppliers. Make a note of the representatives name as well as the time and date of the telephone conversation to ensure that the invoice amount matches the adjusted propane price communicated during the price adjustment conversation. During the winter heating season, supplier telephones may be very busy and you will want to document names, dates and times of all conversations to follow-up on any verbal commitments at a later date if necessary.
It is critical that a propane consumer discover and compare her price per gallon within the 24-48 hours window BEFORE the pending propane delivery arrives. Why is this important? Issues involving a propane delivery tend to get higher-priority attention BEFORE the delivery is completed at the customers home. AFTER the pending propane delivery has been transferred to your propane tank, it is unlikely that your pricing matter will get the same high-priority level of attention at your suppliers office as it may have before the propane delivery. Furthermore, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to contact and verify the propane price per gallon information from other local propane suppliers several days AFTER a propane delivery occurred. This is a good reason to contact your supplier well in advance of running out of propane if you need to engage in a dialog around learning and comparing your price between other local propane suppliers before the supplier completes the delivery to your propane tank.
As most propane consumers are aware, since most propane suppliers choose not to openly and transparently post current propane pricing for public viewing and comparison, it is not easy to gain comparable pricing from competitors for comparison to your current suppliers pricing. Propane consumers can be placing propane delivery orders valued in the hundreds or perhaps thousands of dollars. A price gouging incident that goes undetected by a consumer several times in a winter heating season can result in a consumer being price gouged for significant sums of money. It is not like an overcharge at the local supermarket for 30 cents or 50 cents as part of a weekly grocery purchase. If a propane supplier simply posted prices for customer viewing, customers would not have to deal with all of these issues. Hence, when searching for a propane supplier, try to find one in your area that is straight forward and openly posts current propane pricing on it's website. You will save yourself the headaches of trying to find out if your supplier is indeed charging competitive prices. The alternative to avoid these headaches is to purchase your own propane tank - giving your the freedom to call any local supplier with the lowest price to order a delivery - and avoid all the price checking telephone calls. Buyer beware! You need to keep your eyes open and watch each invoice closely to eliminate your chances of becoming a victim of price gouging.
Fixed Price Program Suggestion: When a propane consumer is on a fixed pricing plan (i.e.propane pre-buy), it is a good idea to verify that each delivery ticket reflects the price per gallon that applies to the fixed propane pricing plan. It is possible that a simple innocent mistake can occur that results in the incorrect price per gallon appearing on a delivery ticket. In many cases, the best way to find out about simple errors in pricing is to carefully review each propane delivery ticket.
It's your money, PROTECT YOURSELF from propane price gouging!