This week the New Hampshire Senate is set to vote on a House bill designed to protect home heating fuel customers. This comes after hundreds of Fred Fuller Oil Company customers suffered shortages and late deliveries in January.
The bill is designed to protect so-called “pre-buy” customers, who pay companies for home heating fuel months in advance, in the hope of getting a lower price. It would make failure to deliver on those contracts a criminal offense under the Consumer Protection Act. House Majority Leader Steve Shurtleff co-sponsored the bill. He says legislators don’t want to unfairly target fuel dealers.
“The vast majority are very responsible and take good care of their customers," he says. "But there is that small percentage that for one reason or another is having a problem, and we just want to put them on record to know that here in New Hampshire, there are consumer protections, and we’re going to do all we can to protect their customers.”
Kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas dealers are also covered under the proposal. The bill also sets minimum inventory requirements for fuel dealers and narrows the window during which they can sell pre-paid contracts.