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 propane price gouging. 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 propane pricing. The following paragraphs have BEFORE and AFTER words highlighted. The reason for this is to underscore the importance of researching and comparing propane pricing BEFORE each delivery - as attempting to research and compare propane 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.
As noted in other areas of this website and on the Internet, it is very important for propane consumers (not participating in a fixed propane pricing program or similar program that has a predetermined propane pricing formula) to find out and compare his or her propane price per gallon BEFORE each propane delivery. Without being aware of the propane price per gallon BEFORE each pending delivery, a propane consumer may become a victim of propane price gouging. Since virtually all propane suppliers choose not to openly post current propane pricing on their company website, comparing propane 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 propane price per gallon being charged by his or her propane supplier 24 to 48 hours BEFORE each pending propane delivery. After finding out his or her propane price per gallon BEFORE each pending delivery, a propane consumer should contact other local propane suppliers to compare and verify that the propane price per gallon is competitive.
How does a propane consumer initiate the process of viewing and comparing propane pricing before each pending delivery with his propane supplier? Simply tell your propane supplier before starting service (or at anytime after starting service with a propane supplier) that you want to be informed of your propane price per gallon 24 to 48 hours BEFORE each propane delivery. Tell your propane supplier to notify you via smart phone text, fax, e-mail or voice-mail of your propane 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' propane price per gallon (including additonal fees) is indeed competitive compared to current propane prices being charged by other local propane suppliers, there is no action to take -- simply relax and look forward to receiving your pending delivery. Conversely, if you discover that your propane price per gallon for the pending delivery is clearly above the range of propane prices currently being charged by other local propane suppliers, contact your propane supplier with supporting evidence from your local propane price comparison study (the price per gallon quotes from other local propane suppliers) and request that the propane 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 propane 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 propane 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 unlikley that your propane pricing matter will get the same high-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 propane price between other local propane suppliers before the supplier completes the delivery to your propane tank. As a propane consumer can see here, it is not easy to gain comparable propane pricing from competitors for comparison to your current propane suppliers propane pricing. If a propane supplier simply posted propane 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 if 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 propane prices. The second alternative to avoid these headaches is to purchase your own propane tank - giving your the freedom to call any local supplier with the lowest propane price to order a delivery - and avoid all the price checking non-sense.
Fixed Propane Price Program Suggestion: When a propane consumer is on a fixed propane pricing plan (i.e.propane pre-buy), it is a good idea to verify that each delivery ticket reflects the propane 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 propane price per gallon appearing on a delivery ticket. In many cases, the best way to find out about simple errors in propane pricing is to carefully review each propane delivery ticket.
It's your money, PROTECT YOURSELF from propane price gouging!