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Propane customers say suppliers are backing out of contracts

Richard Kremer, Wisconsin Public Radio

A growing number of propane customers are filing formal complaints with the state claiming their suppliers are backing out of contracts.

Around 70 people have contacted the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) in the last two weeks saying their propane suppliers aren’t delivering on promises. Sandy Chalmers, DATCP’s administrator of consumer protection, said the main issue is propane suppliers voiding prepay or price-lock contracts.

“We’re hearing from consumers who have either prepaid for a season’s worth of propane deliveries or who had had a locked-in price,” said Chalmers. “What we’re advising them to do is look at the contract you signed and see whether it gives your supplier an out from the contract – the ability to void the contract in certain situations.”

She said if the fine print doesn’t have that language, suppliers could be violating the law. In that case, Chalmers said companies could be referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution. She said the propane shortage has been a difficult situation for customers and suppliers, and that DATCP may need to look into new rules for the industry.