POLLOCK PINES, Calif. (October 10, 2023) – In a story that highlights the delicate balance between environmental conservation and corporate policy, a 65-year-old Pollock Pines homeowner, Mark Eddy, is left baffled and frustrated by a recent charge levied by Ferrell Gas. This charge, a $200.01 fee, is referred to as a “no-usage fee” and has ignited a debate over whether individuals who practice propane conservation should be penalized for their efforts.
Mark Eddy, who diligently conserves propane, relies on a wood stove to heat his home, air dries his laundry, barbecues outdoors, and keeps his water heater set to a minimum. His motivation is clear: “We want to make the planet better; we want to use less of everything.”
However, his environmentally friendly approach left him astonished when Ferrell Gas slapped him with the unexpected fee. This no-usage fee was imposed because, according to the company, Eddy hadn’t met the minimum volume requirement, despite his loyalty as a customer for almost two decades.
Eddy’s frustration stems from the fact that his initial agreement with Ferrell Gas, signed nearly 20 years ago, made no mention of minimum usage requirements. However, Ferrell Gas defended their policy, stating that a “low usage” fee could be imposed if the customer failed to meet the specified minimum volume, although the exact volume required remained unspecified in the fine print.
Critics argue that such charges, in the absence of clear communication, seem punitive and may be an attempt to shore up revenues.
Colin Sueyres, CEO of the Western Propane Gas Association, representing approximately 150 propane companies, offered some insights into the practice. He explained that customers who lease a company’s tank are typically bound to purchase propane from the same company. He advised customers in Eddy’s situation to communicate their conservation efforts or any other valid reasons for reduced usage with the company.
Ferrell Gas, in response to the public outcry, announced that they would be waiving the customer fee, but Eddy is not satisfied. He now plans to exercise his consumer power by purchasing his own tank and seeking a new propane company. By doing so, he can fill his tank with propane from a provider of his choice, effectively regaining control over his energy conservation choices.
As a side note, Colin Sueyres mentioned that a used 250-gallon propane tank can be acquired for approximately $1,300, offering a more flexible alternative for consumers looking to assert control over their propane usage.
This case exemplifies the ongoing tension between environmental awareness and corporate policies and the importance of clear communication and transparency in such matters. For now, the “no-usage fee” story serves as a reminder to all consumers to be vigilant about the fine print in their agreements and to stand up for their beliefs in environmentally friendly practices.