It is common scenario for homeowners that recently purchased a home in a rural community (outside the network of natural gas lines) to start propane home heating service for the first time.
New propane home heating customers should thoroughly educate themselves around propane home heating service and carefully research all local propane suppliers before starting propane home heating service.
Our website includes two specific pages that are a good starting point for new propane consumers to become educated on propane home heating service.
These pages are as follows:
When researching local propane suppliers before making a decision on one propane supplier, contact current propane consumers in your new community including friends, relatives, co-workers and/or neighbors. Ask trusted folks about their experience with local propane suppliers: Which suppliers have a history of good propane service? Do any of the local propane suppliers have a history of raising propane prices again and again to the point that many local propane customers became frustrated and changed to another propane supplier? (aka have a history of ‘customer propane price gouging’) Do any of the local suppliers have a history of providing poor service to the point of letting local customers run out of propane?
Just because a propane supplier has a propane tank on the property of the home that you recently purchased, that typically does not mean you need to use that specific propane supplier for your new propane home heating service (although the supplier that owns the propane tank may have a company representative that encourages (aka pressures you) you to use their propane service.
Three very important points to remember while learning about propane fuel: (1) Propane Prices are generally NOT regulated by the government. Without government price regulation, it is possible that a propane supplier may continuously increase propane prices over and over to the point that they are no longer competitive, (2) most propane suppliers choose not to openly post current propane pricing per gallon on company websites or other public displays, and (3) if a propane supplier is giving away ‘freebies’ to start service with a new customer, the supplier may be asking for a longer-term service commitment (beyond a 30-day commitment or a 1-year or longer agreement, etc.). Consider the following “If this supplier delivers all the wonderful service that he or she verbally promises, and ensures you that the supplier is charges ‘competitive propane prices’ for each delivery, then why does this company feel the need to give me ‘freebies’ as an enticement to lock me into a longer-term service commitment? With great propane service, I would be staying with this supplier anyway, right?”. Be bold and ask the supplier why they need a longer-term commitment. If a longer-term service agreement is mandatory with one or more specific propane suppliers, check with other suppliers. If you are more comfortable with a shorter-term propane service agreement, tell the suppliers that you talk to that you prefer a shorter-term service agreement.
When considering point number three above, refer back to point number two. “This supplier is asking me to sign a long-term (beyond a 30-day commitment or a 1-year or longer agreement, etc.) and the supplier does not post it’s propane price per gallon on it’s website? Signing up for an extended propane service contract with a propane supplier without a fixed price or price cap agreement that does not make current propane pricing available on it’s website may result in future propane price per gallon ‘suprises’. If a propane consumer signed a longer-term service agreement in this scenario, the propane consumer may have locked himself or herself into a propane service contract with more propane price ‘suprises’ during the remainder of the extended service agreement.
Bottom line: Be careful when signing up for propane service. Sometimes a propane service ‘feebie’ is not such a ‘freebie’ when all factors are considered in a propane service agreement. If a propane supplier is pressuring you into signing a longer-term service agreement in exchange for a ‘free propane tank installation’, for example, be extra careful if the supplier does not openly post it’s current propane price per gallon on it’s website. Propane pricing should not be a big secret. Propane pricing should be transparent – openly accessible and viewable for customer viewing and comparison.
Some propane suppliers openly post their current propane pricing on their company website. Consumers may feel more comfortable dealing with a transparent company that openly posts current propane pricing – rather than one that chooses not to openly post current propane pricing. If a propane consumer is more comfortable with a supplier with openly posted pricing, check to find out if any local propane suppliers openly post current propane pricing for customer viewing and comparison.
There are many explanations that a propane supplier may have for NOT openly posting current propane pricing for current and future customer comparison. However, the basics of customer service should include openly posting current propane pricing. Signing up for service with a supplier of any product (that does not have a fixed product price or price cap program) that chooses not to openly post current prices is akin to asking a customer to mail in a blank check.
Asking a customer to ‘call the office to find out current propane pricing’ should not be an acceptable alternative for openly posting current propane prices. View the following post for further information around ‘calling the office for current propane prices’ Propane Price Disclosure.