FerrellGas / price gouge, harassed to leave!
Some time ago, I converted from an electric heat system to a forced air propane. I contracted with a then-locally-managed company, Suburban Propane. They had a nearby office/distribution center, and their prices were reasonable/competitive. lso, they offered a no-tank-fee arrangement as long as I got propane through them.
Things went along fine, until the [protected] heating season, when Suburban was purchased by Ferrellgas. I was on a keep-full arrangement, and the first tank fill I got from Ferrellgas, was $2.40/gal +. Fuel prices were high at the time, so I assumed propane had gone up as well, so I did some checking. Turns out, Ferrell's price was 80 cents a gallon more than virtually all the other places in the area. I quickly called to get off of keep-full, until I could find another gas company.
Fast forward 2 months... I get another fill bill. This time, for a price right around $1.00/gallon more than the other guys. I called and asked why my keep-full order didn't get removed. I got "I'm sorry sir, we don't have a record of that change in our system". I asked that it be taken off, again, and paid the bill. It apparently "took" this time. It should be also noted, that the call center was now 800 miles away in Kansas, and that they had completely dissolved 2 local offices... the only people left were the guys driving the truck. No local support, if I needed it.
The following fall, I started calling for a new gas company. I started with a somewhat local place, 20 miles away. They sounded like a good place to work with, so I wanted to start the process of getting a new tank put in. The lady asked my name. I gave it, and she said... "hold on a moment". When she came back to the phone, she told me that they were unable to do business with me due to a lawsuit that Ferrell had filed locally that prevented their company from "going after" a long list of local accounts. My name was on the list. It amazes me still that any company can prevent me from doing business with a competitor, when *I* initiated the contact.
But, the story didn't end there. I managed to find a company Ferrell hadn't sued yet. They had a minimal tank rent, which I wasn't fond of, but their prices were low enough to make that pay for itself in a 1/4 tank. So I had them put a tank in, after letting my Ferrell tank go almost dry. Apparently, Ferrell had warned local companies to not try to pump propane out of "their" tanks. Ferrell would have to do that, at a cost of $90. Fortunately, the timing worked out that as my tank was nearly dry, the new company was able to schedule the new install.
About a month or so after the install (might have been a couple), I called Ferrell to tell them to come and get their old tank. They told me they would, and told me that it would be $90 to pump it out if there was anything left in it. I assured them it was essentially dry, and to get it off the lawn. Yesterday, I get a bill in the mail from Ferrell for "misc fees". I call to inquire what the fee is, and she informs me that it was a non-use fee. I reminded her that I had called and told them to get the tank. I got the standard "I'm sorry sir, we don't have a record of that request".
I informed her that there was no way I was gonna pay $75 for a non-use fee on a tank I told them to come and get. She said they'd have to send someone to get the tank. Also, there would be a $90 fee if they had to pump the tank out... I hung up.
It's pretty clear they have a strategy of gouging the customer, and then making it difficult/expensive to leave their company.
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