Anyone know about propane tanks?

I need an assist here…

I heat my home with propane. I have a 500 gallon tank out back. I have a contract with what I feel is a generally reliable national firm. I deal with its local office. They’re suppose to track degree-days heating and fill my tank up automatically when their formula tells them I’m low. They leave me a note and send a bill. Simple enough, right?

So over the holidays my propane runs dry. Not a drop. We come back from a trip and the house is cold as sin (38 degrees at its coldest). I call the emergency number and they get a tankful to me special delivery. They’re all apologetic and I move on.

Amount delivered: 342.8 gallons
Date 12/31/00
Cost: $664.57

FTR, the never fill past the 70-75% mark. Some sort of safety issue, I think.

Wait for 2 1/2 weeks to pass. It’s now 1/17/01. I come home from work and there’s another note on my front door. It’s their little yellow form saying they’ve dropped off 291.6 gallons that day. Bill to follow.

“???” says I, “That can’t be the case.” I think call and leave a message. No call back.

Amount Delivered: 291.6 gallons
Date 1/17/01
Cost: $565.76

So that would mean I’ve used 291.6 gallons in 17 days.

Let’s make a best case scenario: My tank has 342.8 gallons on 12/31/00. On 1/17/01 they fill me up to 500 gallons (full capacity). That would mean between 12/31/00 and 1/17/01 I used 134.4 gallons of propane. In addition to that my tank now reads 70% full. I’ve kept an eye on it for 4 days now and it’s barely moved in that time. My take on that last fact is that I do not have a gas leak that would deplete my tank.

The upshot of the above scenario is that, under the most understanding of circumstances, I would have used somewhere around 300 gallons of propane. I think this is, to say the least, bull-puckey.

I spoke with their office manager this morning. I quote, “No one ever realizes how much fuel they use in the winter. It’s been exceptionally cold.” Also, she tell me my last delivery (prior to this series) was 11/3/00 so that in 30 days I used 342.8 gallons so it shouldn’t be unreasonable that in the last 30 days I used 291.6 gallons.

Well, check me if I’m wrong but that makes it 58 days between the 11/3/00 and 12/31/00 deliveries and 17 days between the 12/31/00 and 1/17/01 deliveries. When I mentioned that I was told I’d have to speak with her manager in Front Royal. She gave me the 800 number and said goodbye (polite the whole time…no worries there).

My questions:

  1. How pissed should I be?

  2. Is there a case for civil or criminal fraud here?

  3. What steps do y’all think I should take from here?

Petroleum derivatively yours,


Some more investigation is in order. If there is a chance you are leaking propane they should check you out pronto.

I don’t use propane I use heating oil. Something happened to me that may be similar.

They delivered oil to our neighbors by mistake. We found out when we got a bill but our tank was almost empty. Had to beat some heads but they delivered to us in the nick of time. They had a new driver, we have multiple houses down a lane all with similar street address. Their new guy just filled the first tank he saw.

Maybe the extra billing is for a mistaken delivery?

I don’t know if I’d be pissed yet…sounds like something is a little screwy on their end. Do you have copies of how much you went through last year as a means of comparison? I’m assuming you don’t have a second tank setup somewhere (I’ve got a double system myself…prior to automatic delivery, I would run one tank 'til empty, then switch and refill).

Hopefully, they’ll come up with some sort of explanation (mistaken delivery, etc.). You may wish to get your fuel gauge checked to make sure it’s working. Otherwise, it sure sounds like they’re trying to hose you. If so, I’d go find another propane company, and refuse to pay the second bill.

Good Luck.

I don’t see how this could be the case. I live in the mountains and my nearest neighbor is maybe 1/4 mile away. For them to deliver to him they’d have to set up at his place then walk or drive down the road and leave the notice of delivery on my door.

I don’t have records of the AMOUNT they delivered last year but I do have records of my checks to them. In the period between 11/16/99 and 11/15/00 I paid them $2,054.50. In the last 30 days I’ve run up a tab of $1,230.33.

Now propane has gone up a bit (something like an extra 50 cents per gallon) but that seems ludicrous.

All (and any other) advice is muchly appreciated.