Due to mistakes by their propane supplier, Dorothy Hodges and Tom Helminiak spent part of that spring enduring warm downpours and “banded together like arctic survivors.”
Hodges mailed SOS May 9 with the frustrating, month-long story, backed up by 26 mostly double-sided pages of account statements, invoices, contract language and other evidence.
She explained that in July, AmeriGas offered up to 1,700 gallons of propane at the below-market price of $1.20 per gallon for use during the 2021-22 heating season at their Potosi home, provided that they pay in full and in advance.
Hodges agreed, paid his bill for $2044.80 (they don’t know where the extra $4.80 came from) and between September 9 and February 2 he received five deliveries totaling about 1330 gallons and leaving them with about $444, or about 370 gallons, left. use, Hodges said.
The problems started with the next delivery on February 21, when for some reason the Pennsylvania-based company delivered 147.5 gallons, charged them $2.709 per gallon for almost all of them, and said their prepaid account was exhausted, she said.
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It took four calls for the company to reinstate the lower contract price and their unused balance, she said, but soon ran into two new problems: AmeriGas’ refusal to open the prepaid account to pay for future deliveries and the arrival of a mysterious “overdue” bill of $122.66.
In March, AmeriGas refused to let her buy more gasoline at the prepaid price, and calls to the company that month and in April either didn’t work or elicited no response, she said. . Fearing they were running out of gas – which the couple had rationed in hopes they could sort out their billing issues – she said she eventually ordered 100 gallons at a higher price, but she canceled it later when the weather warmed up.
“AmeriGas’ actions have caused considerable inconvenience and discomfort to me and my husband,” Hodges wrote to SOS. “I spent hours trying to fix the problem with their terrible customer service…I turned the house thermostat down to 60 degrees to stretch the gas supply and we bundled up like survivors of the arctic. I turned the water heater thermostat down to minimum, resulting in lukewarm showers, and I stopped using the gas stove for cooking. For an 82-year-old couple, all I can say , is that we survived this very long and cool spring without AmeriGas.
Hodges wanted two things: their account recovered so AmeriGas was no longer billing them, and a refund of his remaining prepaid account balance of $268.92.
On May 19, a day after SOS contacted AmeriGas on Hodges’ behalf, Hodges reported that she had been contacted by the company and her account balance was now zero.
Eight days later, she emailed to say she was “very, very happy to report” that a check from AmeriGas for $268.92 had arrived.
Hodges said she has been an AmeriGas customer at her current home for 15 years and at her former home for 25 years. The hassle she experienced this spring was her first with the company, she said, and suspects it has something to do with AmeriGas shifting its customer service operations from living humans based to Cuba to an offshore call center and company website.
AmeriGas did not respond to a request to comment on the suspicion or explain how the couple’s account went wrong. Hodges said in early June that she hoped to have a new propane supplier by the end of the month.
“I haven’t heard anything back and I haven’t called again to follow up on my end as I’m beyond frustrated and at my wit’s end.”
“We’ve made progress, but it’s a problem everyone has,” she said.
The electrician reported that “the rear electrical panel of the new LG dryer was damaged and unsafe to use,” she said.
Without Wi-Fi, there was no Netflix and no descriptive audio.