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Gary Shipman
Gary Shipman
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Propane Tank Ripoff – Consumers Get Less While Suppliers Get More

3 comments

Well, it seems that something stinks on the grill, and it’s not what you’re cooking.

When oil prices jumped in 2008, propane suppliers reduced by 2 pounds the amount of propane gass pumped into each 20 pound tank, saying that this reduction was to avoid raising prices. However, that was in 2008, and since then the price of propane has been cut in half, but don’t think that those suppliers (Blue Rhino and Amerigas, for instance) passed those savings on to the consumer by putting back the 2 pounds taken out of the cannister; they didn’t. Instead, what is believed to be 20 pounds is only 15 pounds.

In explaining this propane ripoff, a spokesman for Blue Rhino said "[t]here are a number of companies in different industries across the country addressing product packaging, just because of the soaring costs." Problem is, what may have once soared have now come tumbling down. Crude prices soared in 2008, together with all other energy costs, and propane futures hit $1.95 per gallon in July, 2008, but fell to just above .71 cents after January, 2009, and are currently trading in the .80 cent range. Propane distributors, however, have not increased the volume in tanks back to the price soar in 2008, and have instead, pocketed the profits for themselves. Smaller independent operations have returned to the pre-boom practices of filling tanks to their capacity, which is roughly 80% after which there an automatic shutoff in the tank. Not the big distributors, however, including places like Home Depot, who not surprisingly stated that there had been no "customer complaints."

Hey Home Depot – that’s because your customers don’t know that they’re not getting what they thought they were paying for, because you and the other distributors aren’t telling consumers that they’re getting shorted! How about posting some signs that say – "Dear Consumer: you know that cannister that you bought in 2007; it contained 17 lbs. of propane. As a good, solid corporate citizen, when propane prices went through the roof in 2008, to save you money we took a few pounds out, but didn’t tell you. And oh, by the way, after the propane prices returned to normal, we didn’t put those few pounds back in, and yet continued to charge you the same! We assume that you don’t really care about this little bait and switch, but if you do, please let us know!" I think that there would be more than just a few people pissed off at this reality slap! A few pounds here, a few pounds there, who’s going to notice, right?

Well, consumers, sit up and notice! Raise hell! The last time that I checked, Blue Rhino isn’t paying for the cheap hot dogs that you’re cooking on your grill because you’re trying to save every penny that you can and can’t afford steak. There are consumer fraud laws in every State of the United States, that regulates conduct that is both deceptive and unfair, and the conduct here appears to be both.

So gang, cheer up. It’s only a few more bucks out of your pocket so that others can line theirs. It could be worse; at least you have the money to cook something, right? Wrong.

3 Comments

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  1. Andy Hertzog says:
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    Should we also “raise hell” with Frito Lays, who have reduced the amount of chips in their $0.99 bag of chips? This is still a free country. You have the option of NOT buying products or services. If you want a full 17 lbs of propane, there are plenty of filling stations around that will do it for you.

    Secondly, the larger companies also likely enter into hedging contracts, in advance, likely at higher prices than can be currently had on the open market. This allows the retailer to have a set price/cost from which to set the retail price. Where’s you praise for those same companies for taking lower than normal profit margins last summer when the cost was soaring, and attempting to keep the end price lower and reasonable for the consumer?

  2. Chris Saltzman says:
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    Short-filling propane tanks is the consumer rip-off of the year! Blue Rhino and Amerigas are the offenders, and Home Depot and Lowes are totally complicit while looking the other way! People should go out and buy a “grill gauge.” (www.grillgauge.com). It spots under-filled rpopane tanks right away!!

    Chris S.

  3. Terry says:
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    In actuality, they are shorting the customer five pounds of product. This is slightly over a gallon.

    A twenty pound cylinder holds twenty pounds of product at 60 degrees F.