Some propane suppliers offer special incentives to attract new customers. One type of incentive is a ‘propane first fill special’. Propane first fill specials include filling a new customers tank for the first time at a reduced propane price per gallon.
Propane customers should proceed with caution when approached by a propane supplier offering a propane first fill special. The following are some of the points that propane consumers should carefully consider before proceeding:
Since most propane suppliers choose not to openly post current propane prices on their websites, the actual ‘market rate’ and the actual ‘discount rate’ realized by the propane first fill special may be unclear. The most transparent way to communicate propane pricing is to openly post the current propane price per gallon (or volume rates) on the supplier website at all times. When the public can view the current daily pricing and the discount pricing side-by-side on a web page, all consumers can clearly see the differential in pricing at any point in time. Propane customers should not feel like propane pricing is a shell game – wondering if the propane first fill special is an actual discount compare to the suppliers daily propane pricing.
Propane suppliers generally ask new propane customers for a time commitment in exchange for a propane first fill special. The time commitment may be a service agreement for one-year or longer.
While the first fill may be attractive, the important question is what the propane pricing will be during the time commitment including the winter heating months – typically October through March.
Since propane home heating demand is low during warmer summer weather, propane pricing may be lower to reflect the lower demand time of year. The propane first fill special may be the actual market rate for all new customers rather than discount propane first fill special as communicated to the potential new customer.
Bottom-Line: When considering a propane first fill special, review the considerations above before proceeding. Also, ask the supplier if you can trade the first fill special to a delivery the occurs in December – to realize a solid discount when propane prices are generally higher during the higher winter heating demand time of year.
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