Heating oil and propane tips from Ct Atty General

From Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal

 Heating Oil Tips:

•    Shop around. Literally dozens of home heating oil companies are competing for your Business. Take your time and ask lots of questions. An excessively low price, especially for a pre-buy contract, may be an indication of financial problems at the company. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is;

•    Only purchase oil from a retailer registered with the Department of Consumer Protection. You can check whether a dealer is registered by visiting DCP’s website, www.ct.gov/dcp;

•    Retain all delivery slips and scrutinize them to assure that the price, number of gallons and other information is mechanically printed on them. The slips also include information on the efficiency of your burner that will help you decide whether it’s time to buy a new furnace;

•    If you agree to pre-payment, fixed price or monthly payment plan, ask the dealer to state in writing that it has purchased futures contracts or posted a bond as required by state law;

•    Carefully weigh the pros and cons of price cap, pre-payment, fixed price or monthly payment plans. Make sure you fully understand the plan and the contract before signing. Keep in mind that the petroleum markets are extremely volatile and can fluctuate wildly based on anything from weather patterns to refinery breakdowns to unrest overseas.

Propane Tips:


•    First, determine who owns your propane tank. Home propane tanks
are often owned by propane dealers instead of homeowners. If you do not
own your propane tank, you may be charged rental and use fees on top of
propane costs. You may want to consider buying your tank if it is not
yours.

•    Make sure your dealer is licensed with the state. You can check on the DCP’s website;
•  
 As with oil dealers, shop around. Numerous companies sell propane and
their prices often vary significantly, especially depending on how much
you buy.

•    Some dealers offer verbal agreements. The Attorney General recommends always signing a written a contract.

•  
 Note all fees in your contract, especially for low usage and removal
and rental of a tank owned by the dealer. Demand the dealer explain
each fee in writing if it is not explained in the document. Call the
Attorney General’s Office if you are charged fees not in your contract.

“Whether
seeking propane or heating oil, consumers should shop around,” Attorney
General Richard Blumenthal said.

 “Homeowners should take advantage of
fierce retail competition for propane and heating oil, securing the
best deal. Make sure you fully understand any agreement you sign.
Carefully consider whether a pre-paid, fixed priced or capped price
contract makes sense for you. Demand written assurances that your
supplier has secured the futures or bonds to assure that it can deliver
the promised oil.

“Propane users should immediately determine
who owns their tank. If a company owns your tank, you may need to have
it removed or replaced to change suppliers. Propane prices vary wildly,
especially depending on amount purchased. So ask around.  

“The
key is good old common sense: beware of hidden, unnecessary fees,
especially for propane. Make sure you fully understand the contract. If
you don’t understand, keeping asking the dealer questions until you do.
If the dealer can’t explain, don’t sign. There are many oil and propane
dealers in Connecticut and at least one prepared to deal with you
fairly and honestly.”

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