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Suburban PropanePricegauging Unfair Practices


I built a new home in 2006 and had 1000 gal Suburban owned tank put in for heating. It was put in by my builder without any consent from me and I was pretty shocked to find out that I would not be the owner of the tank. Due to the lact of experience at the time, I did sign their contract because they were offering a really good start-up price of 1.89 per gal. Every year I would be on the phone with them fighting over their price for propane. Every year come Aug-Sep I would call other companies and Suburban was giving me a price that was 50 cents to a dollar more than prevailing market price. My 08/09 pre-buy was 3.35 per gallon. The contract states that if I fail to make two payments all of my subsequent deliveries will be made at a market price. The market price is the prevailing price right at the time of delivery. They told me that my price would be 3.75 although the market price has fallen since last year and is at about 2.20 per gallon. They make their prices up as they go along, a special price for all of their captive customers who don't have a choice. There is no buy-out option for the tank in their contracts. Also they informed me that I would lose the 845 dollar credit sitting in my account for overpayment. I asked them to buy the tank. They said "they don't sell tanks." I have had another company negotiate a sale of the tank for me and they would not sell. They told me I would have to dig it up and pay for pumping out of the leftover propane and a removal fee for the tank. Which, they stated, would not apply to my credit balance (they get to keep my 845 bucks!)/ They would charge me a 75 cents per gal fee to remove propane and 125 dollars to pick up the tank. Obviously, I would be responsible for the excavation of the tank. After a certain amount of negotiations they called me and said they would sell me the tank (now they are selling them!) but I would still lose 845 dollars. To be continued...


  • Jg
    JG79 Nov 03, 2010

    The arrogance is incredible. Even after the lawsuit and all the negative publicity, we were just charged $5.029/gal for our propane last week. 12.9 gallons cost us $75. This is insane! We just moved to the area and went with the company that the previous homeowners were using, and we signed a contract. I need to see if we can get out of it, because this is just absurd. I'm so angry.

    0 Votes
  • Ab
    abi_abi Jun 24, 2010

    Suburban propane:

    means Extra bill: 2 times more than other local company.

    Worst service.

    charged me without even filling gas: They are cheat.

    Don't give right information.

    0 Votes
  • Au
    Aunt Jean Jun 13, 2010

    Check this link out. It is a class action suit in New Jersey:

    There is another law suit in Vermont:

    I have been trying to find suits in California. Any information about claims, or whether the Attorney General is sympathetic to consumers, please share.

    For me, it's not just the price gouging. It's the the ARROGANCE. Because they have a huge tank on your property and because the tank always has some propane in it, you always feel somewhat like a hostage when trying to decide whether to change suppliers. I've been meaning to for the last two years because every time I have a phone call with them, I get so angry. Yes, my starting price in December 2004 was $1.89/gallon. It jumped to $3.22/gallon in December 2005. After a phone call, I got a small reduction based on some sort of policy of being local. What does that mean? Then between January and June 2010, my three bills went up from $2.99/gallon in January to $3.13/gallon in March to...$4.30/gallon in June! I am shocked. I believe the less you use, THE MORE THEY CHARGE YOU by the gallon.

    0 Votes
  • Ms
    ms molli May 22, 2010

    Propane pricing unfair, some say
    Written by Walt Cook, The Union Democrat February 16, 2010 12:02 pm
    Some Tuolumne County residents have discovered it’s “buyer beware” when it comes to propane purchases.

    That’s because, unlike electricity and natural gas service, propane isn’t considered a utility in California, meaning suppliers don’t have to justify pricing to the State Public Utilities Commission.

    The result can range in prices from $2.50 a gallon to upwards of $5 per gallon. With most home propane tanks ranging from 250 to 500 gallons, that can add up to a lot of money.

    Groveland’s Bunny Henningsen found that out earlier this month. While she was away from home, her propane supplier — New Jersey-based Suburban Propane — put 200 gallons in her tank.

    She was taken aback when she saw the bill hanging on her door: $1, 030 for 200 gallons. That amounts to $5.14 per gallon. The market rate on the day her tank was filled was $2.99 per gallon.

    Henningsen was outraged.

    “How many people out there purposely keep their house cold because they can’t afford an extra $2 a gallon? she said. “That’s a horrible thing to do to people in the middle of winter.”

    Attempting to modify a pricey home loan and operating a quilt shop in a bad economy, Henningsen had few dollars to spare.

    So she called the local Suburban office in Jamestown and complained. As a result, the company lowered her rate to $2.99 per gallon for the fill-up, cutting $432 from the original bill.

    Tim Brown, of Sonora, also had a run-in with Suburban. Like Henningsen, on the company’s automatic-fill plan, where a homeowner’s tank is filled without prior notice, he was shocked when he saw his bill. He said he was charged $5 per gallon for 102 gallons after a December fill-up. The market rate for propane at the time in California was $2.89 per gallon.

    “I just about flipped out, ” he said. “It’s ridiculous to fill somebody’s tank without notification, stick a bill on their door and expect them to pay up.”

    Brown has since canceled his service with Suburban.

    “They’re getting their gas back, and I’m not paying a dime, ” he said.

    Since most propane tanks are leased by homeowners, canceling service results in the booted propane company picking up its tank, which can cost homeowners up to $100. Some companies, though, have agreements to swap each other’s tanks free of charge.

    Various residents in the Sacramento area have levied similar complaints against Suburban, according to published reports.

    Suburban gave Henningsen and Brown different reasons for why they were being charged 40 percent more than the going-rate for propane.

    Brown said he was told he was paying for “superior service.”

    Henningsen, meanwhile, said she was told she was paying a higher rate because she wasn’t using enough propane annually.

    “They said it was because I was using less than 400 gallons a year, ” she said.

    A call to the local Suburban office in Jamestown this week revealed the company has a tiered pricing system, which, depending on the amount a customer uses annually, can range — as of now — from $2.50 to $5.14 per gallon.

    “Nobody else does that, ” said Henningsen, who has been shopping around for a new propane provider.

    Indeed, other companies operating in the area claimed they do not used a tiered pricing system. Rates at the other companies — excluding introductory rates — ranged from $2.93 to $3.20 per gallon as of this week.

    Suburban spokesman Peter Teshima, based in the company’s New Jersey office, said “a lot goes into pricing.” He declined to comment further on the phone, instead issuing a written statement.

    In the statement, Suburban touted its service — including “highly trained” dispatchers who take calls 24 hours a day, and its ability to secure reliable propane supplies from major providers.

    Delivery distances, delivery amounts and market rates all come into play when billing customers, according to the statement.

    Brown, the owner of a moving and storage company, expressed frustration with politicians for not protecting consumers when it comes to propane prices. He said with various fees and prices going up, the last thing people need is to be hit with an above-market-rate gas bill.

    “The regulation factor needs to come in somewhere along the line, ” Brown said.

    Henningsen agreed, saying homeowners don’t have the option of suddenly ceasing their use of propane, not when their appliances and central heating systems are powered by the petroleum-based gas.

    In that respect, propane is a lot like a utility, she said.

    Andrew Kotch of the state Public Utilities Commission described the importance of utility regulation, saying utilities are considered a necessity, so it’s important they aren’t put out of reach for consumers.

    “There are not that many around and the competition is less, which could lead to concerns about pricing, ” Kotch said.

    Lesley Brown Garland, president and CEO of the California-based Western Propane Gas Association, noted that because there are many propane companies around — several operate in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties alone — propane doesn’t fit the criteria of a utility.

    Lawmakers apparently agree, as California has no law regulating propane prices.

    Instead, the free market sorts things out, Garland said. If one company is charging too much, other companies are available for consumers to choose from. That’s something Brown and Henningsen have found out.

    “This keeps everyone operating as efficiently as possible, ” Garland said.

    0 Votes
  • Ms
    ms molli May 22, 2010

    I have had the same thing happen to our family also. Except they filled our 575 gal. a 2000.00 bill in Nov 2009 tank and when I could not pay a payment because my daughter was dying of phenomena at Madera children's hospital. ( I called and told them what was going on) from the hospital, they denied my payment in April from the energy assistance program ATTCAA and would not take a 300.00 payment from me a 4 days prier to shut off notice this month. they said I had to pay half of 1200.00 ( they never included the pledge the month before ( after returning home from hospital. They wanted at leased 600.00. they turned my tank off on the 21st of may and put in a work order on the 20th according to there shut off letter I had four more days . then they said that they are going to charge me roughly 1.50 a gal to pump the remaining 200 gal. back. and a 75.00 to remove the tank. if you do the math they want around 500.00 for what? making my family of 6( 4 children two 3 year olds and my all better 7 year old and my 13 year old) cold and no way of cooking.or taking baths and not honoring the energy assistance program, I think there is discrimination, dishonesty and greedy money hungery propane vampires'! I found a another local propane co. who were more than happy to install a small tank that does not leak, oh did I forget that part, the tank was leaking ALLOT a work order had to be put in while me and my 7 year old were in Madera. to fix leak, they came out and loosened a nut and said that the tank need to be replaced that was in march, they never replaced it. I wonder how much propane leaked out that was paid for? they said they would give me a credit that never happened for 50.00. I have filed a complaint with the BBB for bad business of New Jersey and the utilities commission for not honoring my energy assistance program.. if you want the full story or want to publish my email go ahead I want everyone to know what crooks are

    0 Votes
  • Ag
    Aggressor Jun 18, 2009

    Suburban revells in thievery, piracy, or whatever descriptive terms you can dream up. Dont be afraid to come up with the worse sort of hateful malelovent terms as they are justified and you will probably still fall short of an accurate description of the levels of greed possible by their company. I was charged $5.05 per gallon at the begining of the 2008-09 heating season. When I called to ask why, my call was meet with indifference and the statement that I did not buy enough propane to qualify for better pricing. With propane prices hushed-up in general I did not find internet sources to verify that I was overcharged in my area. The price dropped over the spring months to a "LOW" of $4.95. in late April I was fortunate to have a sales rep from Heller Propane Company (a company new in our area) stop at my doorstep. He explaned that I was paying over double for my propane. In addition he was appalled at the fact that they had the gall to charge $74.00 annually in addition for tank rental. His statement was that we're just damn glad to have our customers so we provide the tanks for free. I had his company set aside Suburban's tanks and to hookup 2 - 100 gallon tanks in their place. I then called Suburban to pickup their tanks explaining with much restraint that I was being screwed over by their companyto the point of financial rape. I was told they would pickup the tanks and credit me for the propane. I was shocked when they credited me at a fair price of $5.00 per gallon. So now I'm on the phone requesting a check for my $860.00. At this point I was told that my check was already mail in the amount of $ 704.00. After a rather hot discussion I was told that the balance would be issued as a second check. During the conversation they stated that the $154.00 was for tank pickup and I should just be glad that I received a refund at all on the propane. They really thought they had the right to charge for the pickup their own tanks and literally steal back the propane that I own. I put them on notice that this is an issue that will not go away - ever - and I will generate as much ill-will for them as possible. I am thinking that our district and state representitives may be interested in the underhanded corporate corruption the is going on in their districts gouging their costituants which such unbridled contempt. I don't know if the Attorney Generals Office would be interested in a diversion from the fine work they are doing in cyberspace crime but I intend to find out. Thieves, Liers, and scoundles can all find home and refuge in the employe of Suburban Propane.

    0 Votes
  • Tc
    TC2 Jun 17, 2009

    Suburban has consistently been the most overpriced and dishonest propane company in the nation. Why anybody would do business with them is beyond comprehension.

    2 Votes
  • Sg
    SGR Jun 04, 2009

    Same thing here. Prices over $3.69/gal. I was told that they are not selling the tanks. Please keep us posted. We have a 1000 gal. underground tank.

    Tuxedo, NY

    0 Votes

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