Ohio Energy Company Left New York Customers Cold
Attorney General Spitzer today announced a settlement with an Ohio-based energy company accused of leaving New York customers without fuel during one of the coldest periods of the winter.
"This company failed to meet the most basic standards of performance that we expect from corporate citizens," Spitzer said. "It was indifferent to the plight of its regular customers who desperately needed its services. The company has, however, worked with my office to address this situation and is now committed to improving its performance."
Level Propane Gases, Inc., -- of West Lake, Ohio -- was accused of reneging on fuel service contracts with certain residential propane customers in central and Western New York.
During a three-week period in January and February, some of Level Propane's customers made repeated and increasingly urgent calls to the company requesting that their propane tanks be filled. The company failed to respond to these calls. In several cases, families were forced out of their homes after propane tanks were exhausted and heating systems shut down.
At least 20 Level customers from the Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse areas filed complaints with the Attorney General's office about the company's failure to deliver fuel. In other cases Level did deliver propane, but charged more than its contracted "firm" price.
Level claimed its delivery difficulties stemmed from problems at one of its propane distribution centers. But Spitzer said that poor business planning could not excuse shoddy customer service.
Under terms of the settlement, the company will pay the state $17,000 in penalties and costs and pay restitution and waive illegal service fees to customers in the amount of $3,375.37.
The company is also responsible for making restitution to additional customers who file legitimate claims with the Attorney General's office (1-800-771-7755) within 90 days. Consumer complaint forms can also be found on the Attorney General's website at: www.ag.ny.gov.
The settlement, signed by Level Propane executives Feb. 24, contains assurances that the company will comply with applicable New York laws in all future dealings with its customers.
"My office is carefully monitoring the recent dramatic rise in energy prices, and is actively looking for situations where companies might take unfair advantage of consumers," said Spitzer. "We will be as aggressive as possible in these circumstances, and we will pursue settlement negotiations or lawsuits, as appropriate."
Level Propane services some 6,000 customers in New York from distribution centers in Batavia, Howard, Tulley, Lyons, Herkimer and Arcade. The company is a subsidiary of the Level Energy Group which sells propane gas to 150,00 consumers in 18 states.
Level Propane has been the subject of recent customer complaints in several states, including Ohio and Kentucky. New York is the first state to take enforcement action against the company.
The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Carlos Rodriguez and Consumer Frauds representative Richard Pusateri.
In a separate action, Spitzer announced that he intends to sue a Westchester County energy company for forcing its residential customers to pay inflated prices for home heating oil this winter.RESTITUTION
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|Level waives fees of $224.25|
West Lake, NY
|Level waives fees of $107.00|
Level waives fees of $107.00
and refund of $206.82
Bonita A. Nola
|Level waives fees of $410.50|
Paul D. Gernatt
|Level waives fees of $151.09|
|Level waives fees of $414.58|