Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

“Democrat & Chronicle: Why NY is Investigating Propane Sales This Winter”

January 11, 2018

As published by Democrat & Chronicle, on January 9, 2018.

Dozens of complaints about propane deliveries, including price gouging, in recent weeks led Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Tuesday to announce a statewide investigation.

Schneiderman said his office has been “flooded with calls” from customers during the latest cold stretch about poor deliveries and skyrocketing prices.

“No New Yorker should have to sit in a freezing home or office this winter,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

“But in recent days, my office has been flooded with calls from New Yorkers across the state who’ve experienced extreme delivery delays and possible price gouging by their local propane supplier.”

New York has about 274,000 homes that use propane as a primary source of heating, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Schneiderman said the recent frigid temperatures, with record lows in parts of the Hudson Valley and upstate, prompted service complaints from consumers and reports of overpricing.

In some cases, he said, people called their propane company for days and couldn’t get a timely response, or any response.

In other cases, customers who typically received weekend deliveries were hit with new delivery charges when they called to complain during the week. Sometimes, the fees hit $150 or $200, Schneiderman said.

Additionally, some companies refused to fill another company’s tank, suggesting that customers buy a new tank for the company.

“I will not allow any business to exploit a weather emergency and leave New Yorkers in the cold,” Schneiderman continued.

New Yorkers can contact the Attorney General’s hotline at 518-776-2000 or file a complaint online at https://ag.ny.gov/price-gouging-complaint-form

Schneiderman said the investigation is aimed at getting more New Yorkers to tell their stories so they can help people who have been mistreated.

There was no immediate comment from the state Propane Gas Association, which represents the industry in New York.

Schneiderman’s office also encouraged customers to review their home-heating options, saying fuel oil and propane prices can vary significantly from supplier to supplier.

“Consumers considering entering into fuel oil and propane contracts for the season should make sure they understand all of the terms and conditions in the agreement, including any fees or charges for deliveries, minimum purchase requirements or other conditions,” his office warned.