Letters to the Editor

Propane bills costly to widow

My 81-year-old widowed neighbor, being on a fixed income, asked me to check over her finances and living expenses since it seemed that her money was  going “out” excessively fast. One of the things I found to be out of line was four years worth of “budget” billings (semi-fixed monthly billings) for propane from Suburban Propane out of Marysville. I asked for and received her billings and payment records for the 12-plus years she had been serviced by the company. During the past four years, she was making monthly payments of up to $260, which brought her cost per delivered gallon up near $6 during the period.

Looking at it another way, during the 15-month period between a September 2010 delivery and the last fill in December of 2011, she received 140.6 gallons total. The only reason she used even that amount was because the pilot light in her fireplace insert burned far more than her only other propane appliance, the kitchen stove. I turned off her pilot light a few months ago, so her monthly usage will likely be no more than 5 gallons or so per month now.

Oh, and during the 2011 calendar year, she paid a total of $1,628.10 to Suburban. That brings the per gallon cost up to around $11 during the period; however, haggling with the company rep and re-applying the payments so they hypothetically cover portions of previous deliveries, we settled at the $5 to $6 per gallon figure.

Anyway, I would like to find out if other seniors simply pay bills as they are received without questioning the amount. I believe there are a few folks out there that may be on this same bogus “monthly budget” plan with this propane provider where an invoice is not rendered immediately following a delivery, rather fixed payments are made between fill ups. Some may be paying upwards of $6 per gallon of propane when the going cost/gallon generally runs around $3 to $4.

Bruce Howard

Freeland

 

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