The local gas company truck backed laboriously up the gravel drive on a routine, unannounced check of our tank. More often than not, they check, and leave without adding any gas. We don’t use any more than we have to, and with the wood heat, it’s mostly for cooking and hot water we use the propane. I went out and chatted with the delivery man.
“I’m surprised to see you” I said “since I just sent a bill in less than a month ago. I can’t imagine we’d need gas.”
He checked. We were down to 30% in the 320 gallon tank.
“That’s pretty remarkable to use that much gas in that short a time” I told him. How much did you put in for the $95 I just paid and when was it delivered?”
He checked his records and found the last bill for us in the 90-dollar range was back in 2004. My curiosity was aroused. What HAD I been billed for, then?
While the tank filled, I called the company. Here’s what I learned.
“Seems you didn’t use enough gas last year and the $95 would have been 105, you musta hadda credit. It’s the “MINIMUM USE FEE” she told me matter-of-factly.
“Say what? I’m being penalized because I was conservative? That doesn’t seem right.”
She saw my point, but it seems the shots are not called from the Floyd office anymore but from down in Stuart where it is more the bottom line that is most important.
The fine print on the contract we signed in 1999 gives the company the “right” to charge a rental fee (read PENALTY) on the tank if they don’t make enough from gas sales. One’s first reaction to this might be “heck, I’m cranking the heat up, since I’m going to pay one way or another, might as well bask in the heat of dead dinosaurs.”
I’m looking into the possibility of buying my own danged tank (upwards of $1000 I think), something that would make more sense if we faced a longer payback period ahead. I may do it, monetary feasibility be damned, just because I object to this reinforced excess of use that this policy carries with it.
If anybody has ideas about a source for a tank locally (I’ll be danged if I’m buying it from said local gas company) let me know. Concepts like this have no legitimacy in the modern energy-strapped marketplace. Shame!Less