Bill in response to irresponsible business owners taking thousands of dollars from consumers and leaving them without a way to heat their home
“Connecticut needs to act to protect consumers from these dishonest business owners who would close their doors, taking money from the pockets of people whose contracts they cannot fill,” said Senator Danté Bartolomeo. “I heard from too many families and seniors who found themselves without a source of heat during this particularly cold winter. These business owners hurt consumers and reputable heating oil companies who use the pre-pay contracts honestly to grow their businesses and save their customers hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
In Meriden, a heating oil company that was irresponsibly handing its pre-pay contracts in this way closed down after being unable to afford to procure the oil it had sold to its customers. This left customers of the company without heating oil or the money they had paid for it.
Senate Bill 299 increases penalties on companies who unethically offer pre-pay contracts that they do not plan to fulfill. It also requires that the state Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) monitors companies offering pre-pay contracts to ensure that the companies offering them are in compliance with state law and basic ethical business practices. The Department of Revenue Services (DRS) will notify DCP of any outstanding tax delinquencies at oil companies.
Additionally, the bill prohibits heating fuel dealers from offering pre-pay contracts to consumers between November 1 and March 31. Contracts offered during these months are often fraudulent, as oil prices are high during these months, and any discounted offer made at this time is likely “too good to be true.”
DCP will now also list on its website all heating oil dealers that have disclosed their pre-paid offerings. Consumers will also be informed that using credit cards to pre-pay for oil often affords them a better opportunity to get their money refunded than paying with a check or cash.