Tips courtesy of Ct Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell Jr.
Make sure the dealer you buy from is registered with the Department of Consumer Protection, as required by law. See License Verification at www.ct.gov/dcp or call 860-713-6160. Some propane dealers offer guaranteed price plans. Retail contracts for propane gas that offer a guaranteed price, including fixed price contracts, must be in writing. All terms and conditions must be disclosed in plain language and must be printed in at least twelve-point boldface type.
Ask for a signed, dated copy of any contract that you sign, and hold on to all your delivery receipts for at least a year, in case there is a dispute.
Propane dealers may also offer pre- buy contracts. If you sign a pre-buy contract, use a credit card that has purchase protection and only buy from a reputable dealer.Â Pre-buy contracts can be no longer than 18 months and shall indicate:
â€¢ The amount of funds you paid to the dealer under the contract.
â€¢ The maximum number of gallons of propane committed by the dealer for delivery to you under the contract.
â€¢ That performance of the prepaid propane gas contract is secured.
Within thirty days after your contract ends, any undelivered propane gas owed to you under the contract shall be reimbursed to you, unless you and the dealer agree otherwise. This agreement should be in writing for your protection.
Special Note:Â It is relatively common in propane for non-pre-buy contracts to be of a longer duration than 18 months, it is important to read your contract before you sign as to the contract duration.Â You also need to be aware of early exit
penalties, fees and service charges that may be imposed. Â
The price of propane can vary widely among competitors in a local market. You should take advantage of this competition by shopping around for the best price and quality of service. However the price of propane also depends on the amount of fuel used.
A low usage individual can pay2 to 4 times the amount of a high volume user. Keep this in mind if all you use propane for is a pool or spa and your neighbor who heats his house with propane has a lower price.Â Ask friends and neighbors for names of reputable and reliable fuel delivery companies.
Before deciding on a propane dealer, please call the Department of Consumer Protection at 1-800-842-2649 to find out if complaints have been filed against that particular company.
Rights and Responsibilities of the Tank Owner
Propane suppliers typically supply the tank along with the fuel delivery service.Â It is therefore very important to know who owns the tank.Â
This is particularly important when buying a home. In Connecticut (as well as the rest of the country) as only the tank owner is allowed to fill, empty, disconnect, and transport both the tank and the regulator.
This can make switching from one propane provider to another a bit more involved than with other fuels, and incredibly difficult when the tank in buried (there may be added fees related to moving a buried tank as well).Â Many people consider buying their own propane tanks but because of fire and safety regulations this can also be very complex.
If you do decide to purchase your tank, you should ask of the installer when the tank was last certified and what ongoing maintenance is needed. Ask if there are any warranties and if you are purchasing a tank already installed whether or not the warrantee is assignable.
VERY IMPORTANT! A “leak test” is required any time there is an interruption in the propane supply. Whenever a tank is connected or an empty tank is filled, it must be retested for leaks.
If the tank on your property is owned by a propane company and you want to switch to another company that will provide its own tanks, you need to coordinate with both companies and allow enough time for the switch to occur.
When switching over, have the new company do the following:
â€¢Provide at least four business days written notice to the current propane provider to disconnect and remove its tank and regulator before the new company does its installation.Â Written notice must include the name of the person, business or propane supplier requesting the disconnection; your name and address; and the scheduled date and time of disconnection.
Your new company should coordinate delivery and connection of your new tanks with the disconnection of the old tanks so as not to cause an interruption in your service.
â€¢ After providing written notice to your old provider, your new company may disconnect the original tanks in a way that renders them free of leaks, with valves turned off and all openings plugged, and move the tanks to a safe location on your
property away from living areas.
â€¢ Only the owner of the tank may move the tanks off your property. The disconnected tank or regulator is required to be moved from your premises within 15 business days after being disconnected.
â€¢ In extremely cold weather, where a need for indoor heat requires that the switch take place immediately, or if a tank leak or fi re causes potential harm or danger, any propane gas supplier may disconnect or evacuate the cylinder or tank at the direction of a public emergency response agency such as the fire department.
Read your contract and do your homework.Â It is incredible difficult to mediate a dispute if the terms and conditions are clear and conspicuous and the consumer has signed the contract.Â Ask questions and demand answers before you sign any contract.
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